Potential roots of reconciliation


in Canada, History, Law, Politics

As we saw in the previous chapter, the Aboriginal peoples’ foundational agreement for sharing the country with the settlers was with the British Crown. The rights and freedoms of Aboriginal peoples recognized in that agreement are now inscribed in the Charter. Since that agreement, Canada has become a self-governing democracy. Some might say this means that Aboriginal people should adjust to this reality and give up counting on an honourable Crown as their partner in regulating the relationship with Canada. But why should they do that? They were never consulted about these huge changes in the nature of their treaty partner. They were totally excluded from any kind of participation in the discussions and negotiations that led to Confederation and the founding of the Dominion of Canada. For nearly a century after Confederation they were denied any right to participate in the institutions of the new Dominion – including, for a time, its courts. For Canadians who wish to see Canada’s relations with Aboriginal peoples based on justice and honour rather than force, the task ahead is to find a way modern-day Canada can replace the Great White Mother or Father with a treaty-making process that Aboriginal peoples can trust but that also meets the imperatives of accountable democratic government.

Russell, Peter. Canada’s Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests. University of Toronto Press, 2017. p. 67

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