Aboriginal Traditions of Tolerance and Reparation: Introducing Canadian Colonialism
LE DEVOIR DE MEMOIRE ET LES POLITIQUES DU PARDON, pp. 141-159, Micheline Labelle, Rachad Antoinius, Georges Leroux, eds., Presses de l’Universite de Quebec, 2005
Posted: 8 Jan 2012
Date Written: 2005
Canada is understood to have shed its colonial status sometime between Confederation and the Second World War, and the emergence of Canada's post-colonial state was definitely signaled by the repatriation of the Constitution in 1982. Aboriginal people, however, understand that colonialism is more than a matter of the political and legislative arrangements between former empires and colonies. On the ground, colonialism turns on the dispossession of Aboriginal peoples by settler societies. Aboriginal people in Canada have been and continue to be colonized, living in third-world conditions in the midst of a first-world country.
As long as the displaced continue to live in poverty and despair, in shocking contrast with the displacers, or their place-holders, colonialism is alive and well in Canada. The transition to post-colonialism must be purchased by an acknowledgement of the Wrong of colonialism and reparation to the Wronged. In Canada, colonialism was facilitated by the refusal of Europeans to respect Aboriginal ideals of reciprocity and non-contradiction. Ethnohistorical evidence from the early encounter period demonstrates that current Canadian ideals of tolerance and pluralism were deeply embedded in Aboriginal societies. Judged by indigenous standards, the disrespect and interference which characterized Canadian colonization were clearly wrong. However, an exploration of the language and protocols relating to Aboriginal reparations can provide guidance to Canadians seeking a path to post-colonialism.
Keywords: Canada, colonialism, Aboriginal peoples, indigenous peoples
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