Reforming Multiculturalism in a Bi-National Society: Aboriginal Peoples and the Search for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada

David Bruce MacDonald


Since the 1960s, some Aboriginal theorists and political leaders have opposed principles of multiculturalism in Canada. They do so largely on the premise that they dilute Aboriginal legal rights and cultural distinctiveness. Multiculturalism and its promise of generic tolerance (within western institutions) and formal equality go against what many Aboriginal peoples desire from the federal state. Multiculturalism also fails to grapple with the continuing inequalities between Aboriginal and settler populations. This article argues that we need to work towards embracing a “syncretic multiculturalism,” which will involve adopting a “bi-national” perspective, focusing on the need for partnership between Aboriginal and Shognosh people, thus moving away from our current “mono-national” and “colonial multicultural” policies. Without acknowledgment of the harms that continue to be done by our state, and without a genuine effort to repair those harms, both multiculturalism and bilingualism buttress colonialism, and impede any form of genuine reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples.


Aboriginal, Multiculturalism, Colonialism, Canada

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