Sidewalk labs is the Alphabet (Google) company who is tasked with developing Toronto’s Waterfront district. The first visit to the project’s website brings up a digital Indigenous land acknowledgement. This is the first time I’ve seen this practice.
Still, I’ve got to admit that I’m a little unsettled by this implementation, and not in the way that Indigenous activists generally intend. I can’t imagine that the district will have a real and substantive land restitution element. So isn’t what we are left with a hallow gesture that seeks to make the urban data gaze and the subsequent selling of that data more palatable. To my mind this is a great example of liberal politics: co-opt indigenous political iconography to sanitized surveillance.