What is Reconciliation?

Indigenous Rights in One Minute
By Bruce McIvor

What is Reconciliation?


Reconciliation is Canada’s attempt to legitimize its ongoing colonization project.

The Truth Reconciliation Commission described reconciliation as a process establishing and maintaining respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

In contrast, the Supreme Court’s definition of reconciliation has focused on the need to, and the process for, resolving the tension between Indigenous Peoples' pre-existing rights to their lands and waters, with the assumed sovereignty and property rights of the colonizers and their descendants.

The legal process of reconciliation includes the need for governments to justify the infringement of Aboriginal and treaty rights. It also includes the requirement to consult, and if necessary, accommodate Indigenous people when government conduct and decisions affect Aboriginal and treaty rights.

In recent years the Supreme Court has increasingly described reconciliation as a process for balancing Indigenous and non-Indigenous interests while acknowledging that non-Indigenous interests might not have a basis in law.

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Bruce McIvor, lawyer and historian, is partner at First Peoples Law LLP. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law where he teaches the constitutional law of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. A member of the bar in British Columbia and Ontario, Bruce is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading practitioner of Aboriginal law in Canada. Bruce's ancestors took Métis scrip at Red River in Manitoba. He holds a law degree, a Ph.D. in Aboriginal and environmental history, is a Fulbright Scholar and author of Standoff: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It. He is a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

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First Peoples Law is a law firm dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. We work closely with First Nations to defend their Aboriginal title, rights and Treaty rights, uphold their Indigenous laws and governance and ensure economic prosperity for their members. 

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