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12 Easy Steps For Canadians To Follow If They’re Serious About Reconciliation

It starts with land and ends with showing the hell up.

Here’s the thing, I am not a huge fan of the current way reconciliation is being conceptualized in Canada. In fact, I kind of hate it.


Look, at its root, reconciliation is about bringing us, Indigenous nations, and you, Canadians, together in a symbolic move forward beyond all the bullshit of the past.


But there’s a huge catch. That bullshit of the past is still going on today. The main issue that’s causing all this bullshit is the one thing that Canadians seem oblivious to: land, and lots of it.

Simply put, Canada’s occupation of our lands, its violent removal of our bodies to get that land, its reluctance to give back what could easily be returned, and its paternalistic control of our every affair creates a winning combination for continued conflict and strife.

Canada, hear me out. Reconciliation is a possibility, but it ain’t gonna happen before we resolve some key issues.


Thankfully, I’ve put together this helpful 12 step program to show you how, together, we can reach a point where reconciliation is a real possibility.

1. Admit that Canada – and Canadians – are still colonial occupiers of Indigenous lands.


First steps are always the hardest, but if we’re going to go anywhere with this, you're going to have to grasp that colonialism isn’t in the past.

Canada is not post-colonial, Canada is not de-colonized, and Canadians most definitely still greatly benefit from the theft and occupation of our lands.

Canada is a settler colonial state; an illegal, militarized occupation that violates local Indigenous & international law #RememberThis

Once you truly understand this, the rest of the steps in this program actually become pretty easy to accomplish.

2. Put an end to comprehensive land claims, also known as land surrenders.


Comprehensive land claims are the government’s attempt to resolve the fact that Canada doesn't have title over much of Canada’s land base.

In turn Canada has used comprehensive land claims as a tool to sway Indigenous nations to relinquish title over large swaths of territory in exchange for a smaller piece of land — a one-time payment that undervalues what the land is really worth. To date, Canada has settled 26 comprehensive land claims, most notably the James Bay and Nisga'a Agreements. It’s colonial trickery at its finest and needs to stop now.

3. Return all unused Crown lands to their respective Indigenous nations.


Yes, I am hella serious. Give the land back.

Now I'm not saying that the entire country should be handed over to us and everyone should leave. Quite the contrary. There are expansive parcels of unused Crown land in this country. Return it to its rightful owners, meaning the nations that have traditionally used and controlled the land.

4. Negotiate restitution for lands and resources that can't be returned.


We get it, some lands simply cannot be returned. No biggie.

Let’s evaluate what those lands are worth, which nation has claim to those lands, and justly compensate for both the value of the land and the value of the resources extracted from the land since it was stolen. Make sense? And don’t get at me with “that will cost Canada too much." Y’all just spent half a billion dollars on Canada 150.

5. End resource extraction on disputed lands until boundary issues are resolved.


Colonialism is the appropriation of Indigenous territory without Indigenous consent. Knowing that, how are we supposed to reconcile anything when Canada continues to extract resources directly from Indigenous nations, often without consultation or consent?

That was the case when Canada adamantly ignored the community of Elsipogtog’s concerns over fracking in their territory and instead used the RCMP to physically protect unwanted resource exploration in the area.

Other situations, like the chemical pollution faced by Aamjiwnaang First Nation, demonstrate how the resource industry with the support of federal and provincial governments damage our shared waters, air, and lands.

6. Abolish the Indian Act and replace it with complete Indigenous autonomy.


The Indian Act, first drafted and passed by Canadian Parliament in 1876, is an outdated, racist, and colonial document that was created with the intent of controlling every facet of Indigenous lives.

To this day the Indian Act still determines who is and isn’t an “Indian,” how our governance structures operate, and how our communities are managed. Remember this was all drafted without our consultation or consent. Let’s get rid of it and replace it with nothing shy of full Indigenous autonomy over our every affair. Canada has no business governing and regulating us.

7. Dismantle Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and hand power over to Indigenous nations.


If we’re going to abolish the Indian Act, you’d better believe INAC will be the next to go.

This incredibly inefficient and colonial institution has a history of being a royal pain in the ass, recently exemplified by their inability to properly handle something as easy as issuing an identification card. Plus, we’re pretty sick of this watchdog telling us when to jump and how high. After dismantling the ministry, just hand their duties and powers back to whatever governance respective Indigenous nations have in place.

8. Hand over control of law and justice in our communities to our communities.


Our land, our law. The Canadian legal system and its enforcement mechanisms have done nothing good for us, examples being: our overrepresentation in the prison system and extremely problematic behaviour from enforcement agencies, such as the 37 accusations of sexual abuse made against the Surete du Quebec in Val D’or, Quebec.

9. Actually implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

We support UNDRIP. Oh wait, no we don't, adopting it into Canadian law ‘unworkable’. Get your story straight Canada.

After whining about UNDRIP for who knows how long, Canada finally signed on. Now what?

Well Canada, you should fully adopt UNDRIP into Canadian law. Alas, Canada has made it very clear it isn’t interested in actually implementing UNDRIP and in turn has made it clear that Canada isn’t actually committed to real reconciliation.

10. Implement all Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action.


The TRC was mandated with the task of documenting the accounts of residential school survivors and making public the reality, impact, and consequences that the residential school system had and has upon Indigenous communities in Canada.

The TRC concluded by releasing 94 calls to action. Read them. Implement them.

11. Establish the nation-to-nation diplomacy we keep asking for.


It’s pretty simple. At this point, you’ve returned our lands, compensated us for what you can’t return, relinquished power to us over our own affairs, and abolished the administrative bureaucracy that ran our communities. Legit — at this point we’re fully autonomous nations. From this point we can start dialoguing as such.

Obviously, we’ve got a few more kinks to work out. So at this point it may be wise to develop a government agency focused on building a healthy relationship with us, your neighbours. This agency or ministry can essentially function as a diplomatic hub of sorts. Not as a regulatory body.

12. Check your people.

Alanis Obomsawin

In 1990, during the Oka crisis, Mohawks from Kahnawake had their cars pelted with massive rocks by an angry mob of Canadians. Why? Because angry violent racists exist in Canada, like the ones who attacked Indigenous woman Barbara Kentner with a trailer hitch in Thunder Bay.

Just listing the above steps are enough to enrage and expose just about all the angry violent racists in this country and when they finally do lash out, it’s up to you to physically support us, stand with us and call out injustice wherever you see it.

If you can’t do that, then you're not serious about reconciliation.