REPORT: Students must acknowledge benefitting from genocide to take classes

At George Brown College (GBC), students must reportedly admit that they benefit from the “colonization and genocide” of the local native population before they can access online courses.

GBC is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The statement, mandated through an IT waiver, reportedly requires students to acknowledge the Indigenous people of Toronto and commit themselves to “engage in resistance” to injustice.

It reads:

“We acknowledge this sacred land on which George Brown College operates. As settlers or the displanted, we benefit from the colonization and genocide of the Indigenous peoples of this land. In order to engage in resistance and solidarity against the past and present injustices inflicted on the Indigenous people of this land, it is imperative we constantly engage in acts of awareness and decolonization.”

Students cannot opt out or reject the statement. Those who oppose or refuse to sign the statement are reportedly barred from accessing their classes. 

[RELATED: ‘This is not our land’: Students pen editorial on ‘dark origins’ of Thanksgiving]

GBC stated that the statement is not intended to force students into submission to its ideology, but to “inform through acknowledgement.”

“This acknowledgement is to generate awareness and offer opportunities for personal reflection,” the waiver states.

GBU has a history of imposing land acknowledgements on students, and they are frequently posted on university-sponsored communication channels. 

GBC hosts an additional land acknowledgement on its website.

It reads:

“George Brown College is located on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and other Indigenous peoples who have lived here over time. We are grateful to share this land as treaty people who learn, work and live in the community with each other.”

According to the college website, the land acknowledgement is required to be read at speaker events prior to the playing of the national anthem, O Canada. 

The order acknowledges the “historical order” of the land.

It is also used on presentation slides, college-affiliated websites, and in email signatures.

[RELATED: Cornell is the latest university to adopt Native American ‘land acknowledgement’ statement]

Campus Reform has reported on the rise of land acknowledgements in the United States. In January, Campus Reform spoke to a University of Washington professor who was censored by the administration for promoting an alternative land acknowledgement.

Rather than acknowledge the previous occupation of the property, Stuart Reges included a sentence in his classroom syllabus that suggested the “Coast Salish people” do not own the land currently occupied by the university.

“I acknowledge that by the labor theory of property the Coast Salish people can claim historical ownership of almost none of the land currently occupied by the University of Washington,” it read.

The statement was removed from the syllabus by the university. Administrators apologized to students and allowed offended students to switch to a different course under another instructor.

Campus Reform contacted the university for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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