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Federal Election 2021: Are you voting for Reconciliation?

Today is election day. Today eligible voters get to express their preference for who forms the next federal government and shapes the future of Canada. Here at Team ReconciliAction YEG, we hope that Canadians see reconciliation in Canada’s future and are voting with reconciliation in mind. But what does the federal government have to do with reconciliation? The short answer is: everything.

Artwork: “Akina Awiyag Noojimowin (Healing All Nations)” by Simone McLeod

Consider the enormity of reconciliation. It is a wicked problem[1] because reconciliation engages a system of complex and interconnected problems that cannot be addressed in isolation. Healing of individuals and entire peoples, health, preservation of language and culture, education, equity in the legal system, and justice for those who suffered harm and continue to suffer are just a few of the necessary goals.[2] Reconciliation engages different worldviews from Indigenous and Non-Indigenous perspectives, and they do not always align. Reconciliation takes a coordinated effort from multiple levels of government, institutions (including churches), communities and individuals.[3] Reconciliation is also resource-intensive. It takes financial investment, from funding national-level programming to supporting grassroots initiatives, and considerable time and effort by all parties involved.[4] In short, reconciliation requires leadership, coordination, and resources to move a country encompassing multiple jurisdictions, peoples, institutions and communities. A movement of this magnitude cannot succeed without sustained engagement from the federal government.

The TRC set out 94 Calls to Action that break down this wicked problem into more easily-digestible tasks and identify who should take action to achieve each one. [5] The Commission directly calls upon the federal government to take action on 72 of the 94 Calls to Action, which equals 77% of all Calls.[6] Evidently, the federal government must play a fundamental role in our progress towards reconciliation and the TRC, through the Calls to Action, laid out a path to get there. Now it is up to the federal government to implement these Calls to Action, mobilize their partners in government, institutions and communities, and set the conditions for Canada to move towards meaningful reconciliation.

Going into this federal election, we hope voters consider what the federal parties and their local candidates have to say about reconciliation. What is their vision for the relationship between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples in Canada? What is their plan to implement the 94 Calls to Action? Which priorities are included in their platforms, and what is notably absent?

We at ReconcilAction YEG do not endorse one party or candidate over any other. Instead, we hope that voters make an informed decision and cast their ballot with reconciliation in mind. We also encourage voters to remain engaged after the ballots are cast, to hold their elected representatives accountable and to shape political platforms for the next election. It is your voice that pushes us further along our shared path.

The following resources were developed by Indigenous-led organizations that may help guide voters in this important decision and beyond:

  • The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Healing Path Forward:[7] The AFN puts forward the shared vision of First Nations’ priorities at the national level as well their assessment of the federal parties’ platforms.

  • Yellowhead Institute, Liberal Red, Conservative Blue, Or Something New?:[8] Brock Pitawanakwat puts forward his comments on the election in general and his assessment of how the federal parties’ platforms measure up to the AFN’s priorities.

Until next time,

Team ReconciliAction YEG

[1] See Brian W Head & John Alford, “Wicked Problems: Implications for Public Policy and Management” (2015) 47(6) Administration & Society 711. [2] See the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015) [“TRC Calls to Action”]. [3] See The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Canada’s Residential Schools: Reconciliation. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015) vol 6 at 3-4. [4] Ibid. [5] TRC Calls to Action, supra note 2. [6] Ibid (includes direct calls to the “federal government” the “Government of Canada” and “all levels of government”). [7] The Assembly of First Nations, “2021 Federal Priorities for Strengthening and Rebuilding First Nations” (September, 2021), online: Assembly of First Nations <>. [8] Brock Pitawanakwat, “Liberal Red, Conservative Blue, Or Something New? A First Nation Voter’s Guide To The 2021 Federal Election” (16 September 2021), online: Yellowhead Institute <>.

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