Truth, reconciliation and restitution

The summary report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was released last week. The work of the Commission took seven years, gathering public and private testimony from survivors and families of survivors of Canada’s state- and Church-sanctioned residential school system—a system that forcibly removed from families, assimilated and often killed Indigenous children. The Commission’s conclusion was stark: Canada committed cultural genocide on Indigenous peoples.

My first guest is Indigenous scholar Vanessa Watts-Powless. Vanessa is Mohawk and Anishnaabe and teaches in Indigenous Studies at McMaster University. With Hayden King, a previous guest, she penned an important article in the Globe and Mail calling for action on restitution in the wake of the TRC report. The meaning of restitution was the topic of our conversation.

As my second guest, I’m happy to finally have the chance to talk with Greg Albo, who teaches political economy at York University and is the co-editor of the Socialist Register. I spoke with Greg to get a sense of how the arguments for restitution made by Vanessa fit into the context of Canada’s political economy.

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First Nations and the political economy of land


This episode looks at the political economy of land in Canada and the Canadian state’s relationship with First Nations as mediated by land. I’m happy to bring together two guests who deal extensively with these issues and pose challenges to rethink the way land is governed.

My first guest is Hayden King, Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation in Ontario and director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Toronto’s Ryerson University. He joined me to discuss his recent piece in the Globe and Mail on land and the institutions that govern it.

My second guest is Lynn Gehl, an Algonquin Anishinaabe researcher, writer and activist with a PhD in Indigenous Studies. We discuss her recent article in Ricochet, written with Heather Majuary, on how the current Algonquin land claims process may be undermining those First Nations. It is based on her book The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin on the Algonquin Land Claims Process.


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