Producing legitimacy: Reconciliation and the negotiation of aboriginal rights in Canada

  • Blackburn C
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The article explores two distinct meanings of reconciliation associated with the Nisga'a treaty in Canada. In the first, people are using reconciliation to mean correcting the mistakes of the past and creating a new relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. In the second, people use reconciliation to mean reconciling the constitutionally protected aboriginal rights of the Nisga'a with Canadian sovereignty and the presence of non-aboriginal Canadian society. In this article I show that reconciliation in the first sense is a language of political legitimation that links the treaty with progress and the fulfilment of modern, enlightenment values. The second sense of reconciliation is more specific and involves making formerly incompatible rights compatible. I argue that by reconciling aboriginal rights with Canadian sovereignty the treaty does not repudiate the colonial insistence that aboriginal people conform to non-aboriginal laws and institutions to the extent implied in the more celebratory uses of reconciliation

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  • Carole Blackburn

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