At Her Majesty’s Pleasure?

Our own Justin E. H. Smith in his eponymous blog:

ScreenHunter_02 Aug. 12 11.04 Prior to moving to Canada in 2003, I never really thought about the existence of Native Americans. Of course I'd heard the standard histories, seen the caricatures in old movies, was able to make some basic distinctions as to the names and locations of the different tribes. But the appropriation of the continent and the setting up there of a new and successful nation state seemed to me, from my American perspective, to be such a thorough fait accompli that any suggestion of the enduring moral obligation to reflect on and perhaps respond to past wrongs would have seemed to me as foreign as a proposal to reconstitute Gondwanaland. This very much in contrast with the legacy of slavery, which never escaped my notice as the gaping wound that defines my country's history and character.

I don't know quite what changed; perhaps it was simply the little, symbolic things that the well-meaning Canadian government does to recognize the First Nations (including, by the way, calling them 'First Nations'), such as providing links on many government websites in Mohawk, Inuktitut, and so on. Perhaps it was the very absence of a legacy of slavery (which, I insist, has only to do with the different exigencies of a different sort of colonial economy: one without large-scale plantation farming), which leaves Canada with only one original sin, rather than two.

Whatever it was, over the past several years I have acquired what I take to be a distinctly Canadian sensibility about the First Nations issue, namely, one that supposes that it is not too late to do something about the wrongs that were done a long time ago; or, rather, that the colonial powers are not absolved of the need to do something simply because the wrongs were done a long time ago. It is still a live issue.

More here.