Today Indigenous people are struggling to negotiate treaties with the BC and Canadian governments and in other ways to re-assume meaningful say over their ancestral lands and resources. Likewise, they are seeking to re-establish forms of self-governance that will be recognized and respected within Canada’s federal constitutional traditions.
Indigenous people and non-Indigenous Canadians alike are rightly asking why this process is proving so difficult, and likewise why respectful reconciliatory relations were not established much earlier? The answer to these and related questions require careful historical analysis.
In this recent presentation to the BCHF annual conference Keith Thor Carlson brings ethnohistorical methods and techniques to provide an assessment of settler colonial processes in Canada’s Pacific province. He concludes by outlining the pre-conditions, as he sees them, for building reconciliation between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous Canadian society today.
Thor Carlson is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Indigenous and Community-engaged History at the University of the Fraser Valley. He is also the director of the university’s Peace and Reconciliation Centre.