Friday, February 21, 2020

History of Reconciliation (it predates the Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

I have not been much impressed with the quality of analysis of the Wet'suwet'en crisis, either by politicians or by journalists and commentators. The issue here is not ending the blockades or getting the trains run. It's not holding face-to-face meetings. It's not who we think is entitled to speak for the Wet'suwet'en. It's not even the pipeline. 

Fundamentally, the spark of the crisis was the court decision that authorized the overriding of indigenous self-government and title to land, the two matters which have always been the basic requirements of "reconciliation." Those are the issues needing to be addressed. 

The public figure I have seen being most clear about this is Jody Wilson-Raybould, though she has not been getting much attention, as far as I have seen. Her key proposal is "the immediate tabling of long-promised Indigenous land rights and self-governance legislation."

Not that she is hopeful:
She said despite Trudeau’s “lofty” reconciliation rhetoric and promises to offer a new legislative framework to support Indigenous communities to get out from under the Indian Act, the prime minister never truly supported their quest for self-determination beyond political language that became an excuse for delays and inaction.
In recent decades it was the courts that took the lead in pushing Canada toward justice for indigenous peoples, while governments hung back. Delgamuukw, in 1997, was one of the Supreme Court judgments that went farthest in binding Canada to accepting indigenous title to land and self-government, but it still accepted a Crown right to override indigenous title, which is where the current crisis started.  

In 1997 Chief Justice Antonio Lamer wrapped up his unanimously supported decision in Delgamuukw (at paragraph 186) with advice for governments.
Ultimately, it is through negotiated settlements, with good faith and give and take on all sides, reinforced by the judgments of this Court, that we will achieve what I stated [...] to be a basic purpose of s. 35(1) -- “the reconciliation of the pre-existence of aboriginal societies with the sovereignty of the Crown”. Let us face it, we are all here to stay.
Jody Wilson-Raybould has it right. It's time for the Crown to table some draft legislation and to move the discussion of self-government and indigenous title from the courts to the political sphere. Now, who else is willing to say so? Above all, is Prime Minister Trudeau?
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