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Reconciliation after genocide in Canada: Towards a syncretic model of democracy

David MacDonald


Despite recent claims by Saul (2008) that Canada’s federal and provincial systems of government, including its justice systems, have been strongly influenced by Aboriginal peoples, this article advances that any infl uence has been largely coincidental. A detailed critical appraisal of Saul’s work reveals a romanticized glossing over of Aboriginal–settler history rather than a detailed engagement with it. Taking Saul’s purported goals rather than his analysis as a starting point, this article seeks to examine ways in which provincial and federal government legislative institutions might better incorporate (some) Aboriginal conceptions of power, justice, and decision- making. In so doing it argues for a process of “syncretic democracy,” which includes symbols, ceremonies, guaranteed Aboriginal seats in existing institutions, potentially new institutions, and a much larger process of deliberation around how best to indigenize (and change) Canada’s institutions.

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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740