Faced with a constant stream of news reports of standoffs and confrontations, Canada’s “reconciliation project” has obviously gone off the rails. In this series of concise and thoughtful essays, lawyer and historian Bruce McIvor explains why reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is failing and what needs to be done to fix it.
Widely known as a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights, McIvor reports from the front lines of legal and political disputes that have gripped the nation. From Wet’suwet’en opposition to a pipeline in northern British Columbia, to Mi’kmaw exercising their fishing rights in Nova Scotia, McIvor has been actively involved in advising First Nation clients, fielding industry and non-Indigenous opposition to true reconciliation, and explaining to government officials why their policies are failing.
McIvor’s essays are honest and heartfelt. In clear, plain language he explains the historical and social forces that underpin the development of Indigenous law, criticizes the current legal shortcomings and charts a practical, principled way forward.
By weaving in personal stories of growing up Métis on the fringes of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and representing First Nations in court and negotiations, McIvor brings to life the human side of the law and politics surrounding Indigenous peoples’ ongoing struggle for fairness and justice. His writing covers many of the most important issues that have become part of a national dialogue, including systemic racism, treaty rights, violence against Indigenous people, Métis identity, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and the duty to consult.
McIvor’s message is consistent and powerful: if Canadians are brave enough to confront the reality of the country’s colonialist past and present and insist that politicians replace empty promises with concrete, meaningful change, there is a realistic path forward based on respect, recognition and the implementation of Indigenous rights.
Dr. Bruce McIvor is recognized nationally and internationally as one of Canada’s leading lawyers in Aboriginal law. Bruce represents First Nations across Canada and teaches at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law. His great-grandparents took Métis scrip at Red River in Manitoba. He is a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.
Published: December 2022
“As a masterful scholar, advocate and Indigenous thought leader, Bruce McIvor has for decades been at the forefront of dismantling Canada’s colonial legal system and the mindset that sustains the continued denial of the rights of Indigenous peoples. In all this work, Bruce embraces cultural humility and defers to the voices of his client, bringing wisdom and collaboration in each step of this arduous journey.” — Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe)
“This a great book. I highly recommend it to those who want to gain an understanding about Indigenous Peoples and Canadian law without going to law school. The book goes beyond Canadian law and looks at Indigenous law as well. It is easy to read and understand and has the added chapter summaries of “Why it Matters.” I definitely recommend this book.” — Bev Sellars, author of Price Paid: The Fight for First Nations Survival
“Canada’s vision of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is crap. It’s nice to see a book that shares this view. Read it and learn.” — Tim Fontaine, Walking Eagle News