What does “reconciliation” mean today?

(This article is part of a series on Understanding Economic Reconciliation Agreements. Click here to start over at the beginning.)

The term “reconciliation” appears to have three distinct meanings in Canada today:

  • Legal Jurisdiction: Reconciling Aboriginal and Crown title.
  • Truth and Reconciliation: Recognizing past wrongs and working together to address the consequences.
  • Economic Reconciliation Agreements: Non-treaty, government-to-government agreements focused on creating economic prosperity for First Nations in British Columbia and so closing the socio-economic gaps between Indigenous people and other British Columbians.

Let’s explore each of these in turn:

Reconciling the Land Question

The work being done under each of these distinct meanings is important and essential to achieving true reconciliation. Legal jurisdiction represents the ultimate resolution of the question of title to land. Unfortunately, to date, almost all progress in this area, bar a few modern treaties, has come through the drawn-out, expensive and adversarial arena of the courts.

Truth and Reconciliation

Truth and reconciliation, as primarily represented in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has the potential to address the wrongs of the past and, perhaps more importantly, mitigate the ongoing impacts of those wrongs. It is focused on the personal and social impacts that 150 plus years of colonization has had on individuals and communities.

Economic Reconciliation Agreements

Economic Reconciliation Agreements, a product of the “New Relationship”, are a relatively new focus of the British Columbia government. So far, they have taken the form of government-to-government economic development framework agreements. The aim of these agreements is to create economic prosperity in First Nation communities thereby closing the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and settler people in BC and creating economic certainty on the land.

What do you think?

What do you think of these uses of the term “reconciliation”? Are they similar, or do they represent quite different approaches to different issues? Is the term overused? Is it appropriate to think of an economic agreement as a form of reconciliation?

Add your voice to the dialogue for these questions – please leave a comment below.

Next: We take a closer look at “What are “economic reconciliation agreements?”

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