Reconciling to the State: Social Justice in an Era of Reconciliation

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Vanessa WATTS, McMaster University, Canada
The era of reconciliation has presented an opportunity for Indigenous-related issues to be recognized in the sociopolitical realm via visibility in the media, education, and policy uptake at regional and federal levels. Yet, statist objectives to eliminating the “Indian Problem” remain present. This paper will examine how reconciliation discourse ultimately reinscribes state-centered efforts towards assimilating Indigenous peoples and communities in the Canadian body politic. The national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women has been a fraught process, replete with Indigenous communities, activists and scholars as well as families of MMIW calling for a reset of this Inquiry. Child welfare advocates continue to fight the inequities and discrimination that are embedded in the child welfare system against First Nations children despite the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling in favour of Indigenous advocacy organizations. Further, “economic reconciliation” with Indigenous communities has emerged as a priority from the federal government and continues to be met with opposition from Indigenous peoples. While the idea of reconciliation lends to the notion of authentic engagement between Indigenous communities and the state, it has in many respects, accelerated the need for social justice in Indigenous communities.