Caught an interesting Op-Ed by Steven Newcomb in Indian Country Today.
Playing from the ecumenical sense of the term (I sincerely hope), Newcomb draws the connection
between ‘reconciliation’ and the Inquisition (yeah, we got a piece of that action in the Americas).
Consider as well the connections between the quasi-religious connotations of reconciliation and those
of the doctrine of discovery, terra nullius, and a range of related theories used to justify the illigitimate
dispossession of indigenous nations.
And between "Reconciliation" and the residential schools policy (this is something I’ve heard before –
indeed I’ve argued that ‘reconciliation’ could well be used as a cover for assimilation – surely in a different
time and era, because we hopefully have moved beyond that)
This is what I love about Newcomb (in fact, I highly recommend his book, Pagans in a Promised land –
don’t just read it, buy it and put it on your bookshelf, you’ll be well served to read through it carefullly several
While I agree with him, I think the key question raised is ‘what are we reconciling’? Are we reconciling
the fact there are established societies surrounding our communities, and these societies aren’t going anywhere?
Are we reconciling modern realities with the equally compelling realities that we (collectively) remain nations,
endowed with the same rights, privileges and obligations of other nations? (I like this one)
Or, in terms of Canadian law, are we reconciling the fact that Canada has exercised de facto (factual, rather
than legal) sovereignty over this territory, despite the fact indigenous nations remain, and remain fully endowed
with the juridical status of nations?
I like that one a bit, too.
But there are several other incarnations of reconcilation, that appear less charitable.
But the choice of term by the Supreme Court is definitely interesting, given its connections to the doctrine of discovery.
Something to think about…