Recent times I have heard many differing opinions on the Acknowledgement of Country. Opinions such as why/if it should be done at meetings and when it is done.
Sometimes that it happens too much. Sometimes that it happened before and as such, not needed to happen afterwards.
If you are unsure what an Acknowledgement of Country is, it is a way to pay respect to the indigenous people who are the custodians of the land. You can see an example of one, that is very vague and all identifying, in the footer of my website.
Needless to say, if I have the desire to include it in my footer, I probably think it’s a big deal whether it’s included or not. And you are right! I think it is an extremely important way of reflecting on my sense of being, a way to communicate my values of indigenous rights and to build continual discourse on how we should be treating our indigenous friends.
In a class recently, I asked the question for a presentation if the lecturer would like us to do an Acknowledgement of Country, so it is embded with our presentation practice. (Social Work and Indigenous peoples unit just to clarify).
I thought this was a clear cut yes, but an opinion was held that perhaps one should be done at the beginning as it could potentially take up too much time for our 10-minute presentations.
If you want a practice of how long it takes, try reading out my acknowledgement of country.
acknowledge the indigenous people as the traditional custodians of the land that I work and gain knowledge on. I would like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and future .
I read this out, timed myself, slipped up on saying ‘traditional custodians’ and it took me under 10 seconds. In our 10-minute presentations, if 10 seconds can’t be given (15 maybe because i’m a fast reader) to pay respects to the longest living culture and the culture that has been subject to ‘fourth world’ conditions (Dyck, 1985), then there is a bigger semantic error that we must address in the ways we talk.
Another issue which I did not personally experience, but people have mentioned was at a cultural facilitation event. The company provided training about multiculturalism without doing an Acknowledgement of Country. The justification was that they had done it at the beginning of the year, one time.
Perhaps the intended audience of the workshop are incorporeal beings that know not the strings of time and fluctuate across the eons, searching for that one time that one white guy presented an acknowledgement of country, Jeremy Bearimy style (THE GOOD PLACE SPOILER)
Now without throwing in Doctor Who or a Delorean into the mix, we gotta understand the tokenism that comes with such a statement. To say ‘we did one already’ is another way for indigenous people to be told to ‘get over it’. It treats the act as if it is the really poorly written and unfunny bestman speech at a wedding, before the festivities (idk how weddings work tbh). That it’s something to get out of the way. Thats what both of these comments suggest.
And I hope by making this post, I try to point out that it shouldn’t be a one-time thing. That akin to New Zealands Haka, this respect should be ingrained with our national identity.
But what do you think of the Acknowledgement of Country? Particularly, I am interested in indigenous voices and if i get enough discussion with this, then I may make a follow up post. Feel free to hit me up on my social medias or by commenting.