A19(d) - Opportunities for and Challenges of Reconciliation in Canada
Date: Jun 14 | Time: 01:45pm to 03:15pm | Location:
A New and Renewed Relationship or a Skipping Record? Indigenous/Canadian 'Progress' (2015-2019): Chadwick Cowie (University of Toronto)
Abstract: The purpose of this paper will be to assess the first term of the Justin Trudeau Liberal government in relation to Indigenous relations, rights, and reconciliation. Although Trudeau, during the 2015 Canadian federal election made many promises relating to a new, and renewed, relationship with Indigenous peoples, the assessment put forth will highlight that such a relationship continued to be a ‘Canadian-centric’ form rather than nation-to-nation. In arguing that the Trudeau government’s approach was more Canadian-centric than nation-to-nation, this paper will first assess the first year of the Trudeau government – focusing on the swearing in of Cabinet and budgetary promises during its first mandate. Following a review of Cabinet and Budgetary commitments, this paper will then review policy decisions and movements that impact and relate to Indigenous nations, peoples, rights, consultation, and concepts of reconciliation. Lastly, focus will then turn to assessing how such Canadian-centric approaches by the Trudeau government not only led to a decline in Indigenous support and volunteerism but was further declined with the treatment of the of former Ministers Hunter Tootoo and Jody Wilson-Raybould.
UNDRIP and Reconciliation: Canadian Legislation and the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action: Isabelle Cote (Memorial University), Matthew Mitchell (USask), Andrew Grant (Queen's University), Dimitri Panagos (Memorial University)
Abstract: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued its final report in 2015. A prominent feature of the report is its 94 Calls to Action, a detailed list of concrete steps aimed at promoting the process of reconciliation with Indigenous communities in Canada. A careful survey of the 94 Calls reveals the important role of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in the reconciliation process. Among other things, the report urges federal, provincial, and territorial governments to formally recognize UNDRIP and to develop strategies for its implementation (Calls to Action #43 and #44). This paper examines the progress made by federal, provincial, and territorial authorities on this front. Specifically, it tests the hypothesis that less progress will be made in jurisdictions where a higher proportion of the governments’ revenues are drawn from mining and hydrocarbon sectors, as the Duty to Consult with Indigenous communities means that uncertainty regarding the timeline and outcome of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent could heighten the costs and risks associated with potential projects. The paper thus assesses which governments have incorporated UNDRIP into their legislation, how UNDRIP impacts this legislation (including impact on investment in mining and hydrocarbon projects), and the degree to which these legislative effects coincide with the 94 Calls to Action. The study will not only ascertain how much progress Canada has made toward meeting the commission’s UNDRIP-related calls to action, but also offer insights on how to promote reconciliation in both a feasible and equitable manner.
Personal Responsibility and Attitudes Toward Reconciliation: Mark Williamson (Toronto Metropolitan University)
Abstract: Addressing intergroup inequality and historical injustices often requires government-led, structural reforms. Yet popular discourse in recent years has regularly emphasized the responsibility that individual citizens have to take action on these issues in their own day-to-day lives. Focusing on the case of reconciliation in Canada, this project investigates how appeals to personal responsibility affect support for improving intergroup relations. Pessimists have argued that emphasizing individual-level responsibility can induce backlash by raising the perceived costs of supporting reconciliation and triggering feelings of blame. Yet highlighting the need for individual action can also foster a sense of duty and make pro-social norms more salient. I investigate these competing accounts using an online survey experiment that manipulates whether Canadians feel personally responsible for working to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. I find that appealing to a sense of individual responsibility increases support for reconciliation and encourages a more expansive view of what is required to redress the relevant injustices. Contrary to theories of backlash, respondents do not feel more blamed when they are primed about their personal responsibility. In fact, the positive effects on support for reconciliation are strongest among those who traditionally hold more negative attitudes toward Indigenous Peoples. These findings advance discussions on how best to build support for reconciliation in Canada and offer broader lessons on how individuals think about responsibility for structural injustices.
The Prevalence and Correlates of Residential School Denialism in Canada: Edana Beauvais (Simon Fraser University), Mark Williamson (Toronto Metropolitan University)
Abstract: For a period of more than 150 years, government-funded and church-operated Indian Residential Schools operated across Canada. More than 4,000 Indigenous children died at these schools, although experts believe the true number is much higher. Beginning in the summer of 2021, unmarked graves were identified at several former schools across the country using radar technology. While this news initially led to an outpouring of collective grief among the Canadian public, misinformation about the schools’ history gradually emerged in online circles, the media and elite discourse. This residential school “denialism” has sought to cast doubt on the existence of unmarked graves and misrepresent the purposes and consequences of the schools. In this paper, we use an original survey to develop a unidimensional and reliable scale that measures the latent concept of residential school denialism. Using this new measure, we characterize the extent of denialism in Canada and show that it correlates with partisanship and several important demographic predictors. We also use an experimental learning intervention to disentangle ignorance from "true" denialism (i.e. when, after being exposed to a factual history of residential schools, Canadians still endorse denialist claims). This study advances our understanding of the barriers to reconciliation in Canada and contributes to broader debates on the role of misinformation in politics.