History Slam 195: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People & How to Fix It

By Sean Graham

During the election campaign this fall, the major political parties all included Reconciliation in their platforms. Yet in the past couple of weeks, the protests around the country in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have served as another example of how far there is to go towards meaningful Reconciliation. As Bruce McIvor notes, this will be a multi-generational project that will take a genuine commitment to engage.

McIvor explores the failures of Reconciliation and how to resolve these issues in his new book Standoff: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It. The book features a series of short essays he has written throughout his career as a lawyer fighting for Indigenous rights. With a wide range of topics presented in a short, easily-readable format, Standoff is a deeply engaging book that challenges its readers to go beyond established narratives surrounding Reconciliation and consider what a meaningful Reconciliation process could look like.

In this episode of the History Slam, I talk with Bruce McIvor about Reconciliation and the book. We chat about his background as a lawyer challenging colonial laws, the pervasiveness of colonialism, and treaty obligations. We also discuss the the current protests, what meaningful actions non-Indigenous Canadians can take, and the impact of colonialism on Indigenous youth across Canada. If you are interested in purchasing the book, head to Bruce’s website where you can find a list of independent, Indigenous-owned bookstores around the country.

Sean Graham is a historian of Canadian broadcasting, an Adjunct Professor at Carleton University, and a contributing editor with Activehistory.ca

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