Dilemmas of Reconciliation: Cases and Concepts

By Carol A.L. Prager; Trudy Govier | Go to book overview

8
We Are All Treaty People: History,
Reconciliation, and the
“Settler Problem”

Roger Epp

To have no history is to face only natural obstacles and one’s
own limitations.

—Sheldon Wolin, The Presence of the Past


I

In an Ottawa stateroom in January 1998, elders and chiefs present, the Canadian government made a “solemn offer of reconciliation” to Aboriginal peoples. The offer was read by the minister of Indian Affairs—not the prime minister, as some noted—as part of long-awaited response to the five-volume report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), which had been appointed following the armed standoff between Canadian troops and Mohawk warriors at Oka. The government’s offer accepted the Commission’s historical outline of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in what is now Canada: first, separate worlds; then, contact and cooperation; displacement and assimilation; and, finally (hopefully), renewal and respect. “Sadly,” it said,

our history with respect to the treatment of Aboriginal people
is not something in which we can take pride. Attitudes of racial
and cultural superiority led to a suppression of Aboriginal cul-
ture and values. As a country, we are burdened by past actions
that resulted in weakening the identity of Aboriginal peoples,
suppressing their languages and cultures, and outlawing spiri-

Notes to chapter 8 are on pp. 241-44.

-223-

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