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Wisdom of the elders: Canadian reconciliatory experience as an insight on the present

Faculty Advisor




Canadian identity, Canadian culture, indigenous peoples, cultural accommodation, French Canada, inclusivity, multiculturalism, reconciliation

Abstract (summary)

Canada’s first two large historical encounters of recognition and work-in-progress accommodation of previously marginalized and alienated groups involved French Canada and newcomer Canadians. The third such engagement is now underway in response to the Indigenous peoples of Canada. While this endeavour is long overdue, there is reason for concern that the laudable enthusiasm of many for this project of reconciliation may be authorizing some policies, practices and discourses that conflict with and potentially undermine the values that informed and came out of previous inclusionary encounters. Three areas of concern arise. The first is the embrace of state deference in some instances to unlawful and sometimes violent forms of Aboriginal protest and resistance, undercutting the idea of the rule of law and of the value of the peaceful resolution of disputes. The second is the propensity to under critically over-authorize Indigenous cultural communities as sources of moral valuation, in ways that may undermine individuals’ dignity and well-being, as well as doing harm to the good of intra-cultural inclusiveness. The third is the related tendency to over-valorise Indigenous cultures and claims in ways that suggest symbolically and in practical terms the idea of the existence of morally first-class and morally second-class Canadians.

Publication Information

John Soroski. Wisdom of the Elders: Canadian Reconciliatory Experience as an Insight on the Present. London Journal of Canadian Studies. 2019. Vol. 34(1):176-200.


Item Type




Attribution (CC BY)