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Envisioning Reconciliation at the International Level

Archival Voices and Sources

Source: Statement by Indians, written by Indian Agent P. McTiernan to Superintendent of Indian Affairs J.W. Powell. Library and Archives Canada. RG 10, Reel  C-10119, Volumbe 3679, File 12 061. “New Westminster Agency- Report of the murder of an Indian boy at Sumas by whites from the United States. 1884.”


“We are so very glad that you come to see us at this time, we wish to tell you know the sickness of our hearts ________, by the outrage committed on us by a mob of Americans who had come to Sumas, and took an innocent Indian Boy 15 years of age, and without five minutes warning lynched him to the next tree they met. We want you to take the few words we have to say down on paper and send it to superintendent Powell, he always has been our good friend. We know he will be grieved at what the white-men have done to us. Because we are Indians they have done so, we are all unanimous that we are fully justified in gong immediately in very large numbers across the Boundary line and take the first white men we meet and bring them to the very spot where they hung the Indian, and treat in the same manner. We hope you will agree with our decision, there are a good many of our men have present who objected to telling you know anything about these intention until it was all over but the majority of us decided to tell you everything, and take your advice. We request that J. Powell will let the Government at Ottawa know how sick our hearts are. From what you have just said to us last evening we feel some consolation and we all promise you that we will go back to our homes and leave the matter at present in the hands of the Dominion Government. We hope you will meet us again about the 1st of May.”

Contemporary Voices Through Scholarship

Source: Anker, Kristen. “Reconciliation in Translation: Indigenous Legal Traditions and Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice. Vol. 33, No. 2 (2016), 15 - 43. Retrieved from

               Dr. Kristen Anker is a professor of law at McGill University with a focus in Aboriginal Law and Indigenous legal traditions. Anker’s article is based on the disconnect between the final report of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indigenous legal tradition recognition. For Anker, this cannot be reconciled without engagement and a cross-cultural translation where space is established for Indigenous perspectives within legal traditions and institutions. Much of our political and social structures, as well as ideals and narratives, must therefore be decolonized to produce better relationships. She also highlights that the establishment of residential schools was used to eradicate Indigenous autonomy and self-determination, along with culture.

“In international law and jurisprudence, for instance, cultural rights are understood as being interdependent, with self-determination being the ultimate collective right.” Page 18

Contemporary Voices Through Recent Interviews

Eddie Gardner (Skwah First Nation) 

“We all carry a responsibility. No one group has all the answers. We don’t as Indigenous people. We need each other more than ever before. Reconciliation means working together on this issue of survival, the survival of humanity. That’s what reconciliation means to me. And we can only do that, if we have that right relationship with one another and with what we call our relatives in the natural world. But that concept of acknowledging our relatives in the natural world is where the block is, because people don’t understand that. They can’t come to an understanding of that somehow. But we have to describe it or learn how to communicate that in a way that they can understand the significance and the importance of doing that. It’s hard because it’s an international issue. And that’s why there is a United Nations, a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.” […00:57:38]

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Murray Ned (Sema:th First Nation) 

[On fishing management]
“As a First Nation person, so our rights and our opportunities are watered down by the international obligation. So when you start to talk about reconciliation, you know, back in the day when First Nations consulted about the treaty, probably not.”

Murray Ned (Sema:th First Nation) 

“Internationally. So, I spoke about the Pacific Salmon Treaty, the Pacific Salmon Commission and obviously there’s a lack of recognition of First Nations right to resources within their territory and so on, their right to be able to appoint individuals to represent and serve them... So there’s no resources for I or somebody else behalf of a First Nations Commissioner to go out and talk about what’s happen at the international level. That may change over time... we’re actually seeing a little bit of movement... so here’s the interesting thing, in province in the B.C., if you ever wanted to perhaps reconcile that particular situation and you wanted First Nations to appoint a commissioner and there’s only two of them... two First Nations Commissioners, how would First Nations do that? So we’d have to build and develop a governance structure around that, of course come to some kind of consensus to appoint people. So, the things that we’ve asked for are going to challenge us to deliver on something like that.”

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