The Truth And Reconciliation Commission released its report on Tuesday. If all of its 94 recommendations are implemented, the way Canada is governed will radically change. Tom Walkom writes that some changes will be easy:
Many recommendations involve education. Aboriginal history should be taught to all children. Lawyers should learn about traditional aboriginal law. Journalism students should be taught aboriginal history in order to help them avoid tired stereotypes.
Such recommendations are politically easy. Provincial governments may be reluctant to spend money teaching aboriginal history. But they won’t oppose the idea outright.
Nor will any sensible politician oppose recommendations calling on government to improve the health of aboriginal people (although, again, some may balk at spending money).
Other changes, however, could result in pitched battles. For instance, the commission recommends that larger first nations be able to make "laws within their own communities." That's a very tall order. The recommendation suggests that
the whole nature of law should be rethought, first to integrate traditional aboriginal legal rules into Canadian practice and second to allow indigenous people “to become the law’s architects and interpreters where it applies to their collective rights and interests.”
That sounds a lot like a separate level of government and courts.
Justin Trudeau says he wants to establish a new relationship with Canada's First Nations. It's easy to talk about a new relationship. It's much harder to bring it to fruition.