From (Re)Ordering to Reconciliation

Early Settler Colonial Divide and Conquer Policies in Canada


  • Gabrielle Legault University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus


Indigenous Peoples, Canadian Policy, Indian Act, Halfbreed Scrip, Manitoba Act, Indigenous Identity, Métis, Settler Colonialism, Relationality, Reconciliation


In consideration of current conversations on systemic racism and reconciliation in Canada, this work extends collective understandings of the impact of Canada’s policies towards Indigenous Peoples in Canada, including both the Manitoba Act (1870) and the Indian Act (1876), to examine how a “forcefield of settler colonialism” was deployed as a compounding tactic to divide and conquer Indigenous Peoples. These Acts fractured and divided Indigenous communities, ultimately re-ordering their relationships with one another and the Land, while creating competition between Indigenous Nations over rights, lands, and resources. The residual effects of these policies continue to be felt by Indigenous peoples in Canada in the form of cultural dislocation, disconnection from traditional homelands, and interpersonal lateral violence. Following over a century of policies that sought to disrupt historically positive relations, attending to Indigenous philosophies of relationality and reviving inter-Indigenous alliance building offers hope for reconciling Indigenous relationships to land, identity, and one another.


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