Land Acknowledgement

As the Toronto Biennial of Art team, we are accountable to upholding our responsibility to the lands we are privileged to work upon. Our 2024 edition stretches from High Park in the west to the Toronto Sculpture Garden in the east, from The Power Plant in the south to The Auto Bldg, 158 Sterling in the north. This event would not be possible without the care that the stewards of these lands have given for thousands of years in consideration of future generations.

As we create the 2024 Biennial with deep consideration of local Indigenous communities, we are engaging with past, present, and future stewards of this land. First and foremost, we acknowledge that all of our activities are located on land that has been a site of human activity for more than 12,000 years. This land is the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabe peoples, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, and continues to be part of who they are. Their stories, beliefs, and concepts about the land and the water guide and inspire us. These lands are now home to many Indigenous peoples from across the globe, as well as to those moving to or through Canada to seek refuge and new beginnings.

This Biennial edition is rooted in dialogue and attentive listening, a guiding approach to our work and collaborations. The curatorial key directives—“Joy,” “Precarious,” “Home,” “Polyphony,” “Solace,” and “Coded”—are inspired by participating artists and their creative labour. These directives manifest the strategies embedded within artists’ practices as they raise political awareness of the world we live in and reclaim the power of aesthetics to shape collective life. These key directives also resonate with Indigenous ways of knowing and care.  

We understand the role of settler-colonial privilege and that resisting the ongoing process of colonialism requires active work and attention. Current environmental destruction is connected to long, violent histories of land dispossession against Indigenous peoples on and beyond these lands. As a team and in close collaboration with artists, partners, colleagues, and our board, we continue working to dismantle the legacy of colonial systems that impact all aspects of our practices to the best of our ability. Through our creation of spaces of belonging that welcome ideas and discourse, and in holding ourselves accountable, we carry forward a commitment to listen, (un)learn, and grow.

We acknowledge our physical surroundings, from the many buildings and outdoor spaces that have housed our exhibition and year-round programs over five years to all that lies beneath, including the rocks and the soil. We recognize the many lost rivers below us that vein across the city and connect us, physically and psychically, to Lake Ontario and its tributaries. We acknowledge the trees and plants surrounding us, tracing their root systems up toward the surface, as well as the grass, plants, insects, animals, fungi, and microbial beings that live beside us, sharing the city and the lake. Finally, we direct our intentions to the sky. We acknowledge the clouds, moon, sun, and stars, whose light has made this fantastic journey across space and time.

 This Land Acknowledgement builds upon TBA’s 2022 version, which was developed with the consultation and guidance of Ange Loft (interdisciplinary performing artist from Kahnawà:ke, Quebec), and, subsequently, with the wisdom of Camille Georgeson-Usher (Coast Salish/Sahtu Dene/Scottish scholar, curator, and writer from Galiano Island, British Columbia), in collaboration with Candice Hopkins (citizen of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Senior Curator, TBA 2019–22 and current Board Member, TBA), Ilana Shamoon (Deputy Director and Director of Programs, TBA), Katie Lawson (Curator, TBA 2019–22), and Tairone Bastien (Curator, TBA 2019–22). Through a collaborative process in early 2024, Camille Georgeson-Usher, Dominique Fontaine (Co-Curator, TBA 2024), Ilana Shamoon, and Miguel A. López (Co-Curator, TBA 2024) revisited this Acknowledgement to relate it to current understandings and conversations informing our 2024 Biennial.