Indigenous reconciliation proposals need to be enormous – by Jesse Staniforth (Toronto Star – August 4, 2016)

Indigenous people need to be offered land it will cost a fortune, which is what they lost over the years

Last week, Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon released an episode of his podcast, Red Man Laughing — a hybrid of comedy and serious discussion of indigenous issues. This season, the podcast follows the theme “Reconciliation,” and to advertise the new episode “Land,” McMahon posted a two-sentence proposition to social media: “The colonial project in Canada was/is about LAND. Reconciliation is impossible without returning land.”

The bluntness of this statement and the inescapability of its conclusion were a stark contrast to the news of the day about indigenous issues. Within the last month, Trudeau’s Liberal government has stepped back from its oft-stated commitment to harmonize Canadian law with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a project for which it voted as a bloc last year, and for which Trudeau reiterated his support on the campaign trail last fall.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould called the UNDRIP a “simplistic (approach)” and “unworkable,” though she insists the Liberals still intend to “adopt” the declaration.

NDP MP Romeo Saganash, however, argued in May, “You adopt legislatively, and you implement through programs and policies. That’s the distinction the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) made, and it’s quite an important one.”

On Wednesday of the government released the terms of reference for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW) as well as announced its five commissioners. Nowhere in the documents was there mention of a substantive investigation into police conduct and practices in cases related MMIW, despite demand for precisely that from community after community in the consultation process.

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