While acknowledging the deep ambivalence on the part of the Indigenous political class about the desirability of greater representation in Parliament, based on a long history of settler colonialism and formal political exclusion, the author posits that it would be a mistake to leave parliamentary reform out of the broader exploration of reconciliation that is currently underway. Without prejudicing outcomes by advocating for particular reforms, the author outlines some historic models from Canada and aboard and some of the challenges that participants will face when restarting this conversation.
Indigenous peoples play an ever more central role in political life in Canada. Episodes like the Idle No More movement, or ongoing contention over resource extraction attract a new kind of attention and intellectual investment on the part of non-Indigenous peoples. The challenge of building a more consensual political community in the aftermath of settler colonialism is an entirely mainstream preoccupation, more now than ever before. But curiously, the question of reforming political institutions has rather receded from view. In particular, parliamentary reform and “decolonization” have existed in separate intellectual universes.