CPSA Reconciliation Committee

The field of Political Science is beginning to engage the challenges and opportunities of including Indigenous content in university courses (Ladner 2017; Bruyneel 2012). Although discussions regarding the “indigenization” of universities were important prior to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Calls to Action and Final Report, such discussions are even more urgent.

Indigenous Content Syllabus Materials: A Resource for Political Science Instructors in Canada [pdf download]

CPSA Reconciliation Committee

CPSA Reconciliation Committee’s Briefing Note on Genocide


In international law, genocide is defined in Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and  Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (hereafter the Genocide Convention). 


Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial  or religious group is considered genocide:  

(a) Killing members of the group 

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group 

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction  in whole or in part 

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group 

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group 


The Reconciliation Committee recognizes genocide and genocidal processes that stretch beyond the  Indian Residential School, Day School, and Industrial School systems. Below we lay out a non-exhaustive  list of examples that demand sustained research and teaching attention. 


Our recognition of genocide is consistent with the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019), which details “the application of genocide in both legal and in social terms, and as it persists today.”i We recognize that the state continues to interfere with Indigenous governments, legal systems, and ways of living, and that Indigenous societies are not in control  of their lands, which the state now claims. 


The committee identifies a double standard in government behaviour concerning official genocide recognition. The federal and various provincial governments have officially recognized eight genocides: the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust (Shoah) (including Jewish, Roma and Sinti victims), the Ukrainian famine genocide (Holodomor), the Rwandan genocide, the Srebrenica massacres, the mass killing of the Yazidi people, the mass murder of the Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar, and the current genocide of China’s Muslim Uyghur populations. Consistent with these precedents, we call on both orders of government in Canada to recognize the genocidal Indian Residential Schools as violations of the Genocide Convention. 


We recognize that the Genocide Convention is not a perfect legal instrument. It was the result of political compromises, in which almost the whole section on cultural genocide as a key type of genocide was nearly removed in its entirety. Some colonial governments and settler states were themselves complicit in genocide during the drafting and passage of the Genocide Convention. 


Within political science, there have been calls to expand the definition of genocide to better encompass the ongoing effects of colonization on Indigenous Peoples. The call to expand our understanding and to combine legal and sociological understandings of genocide is supported by the work of Canada’s 2019 Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Reclaiming Power and Place.  


There are numerous genocidal actions and processes that CPSA members cannot avoid. These stretch  across themes of territorial destruction and dispossession; continuing forcible separation of children from their families and homelands; gender-based violence, and the continuation of systemic racism across Canada. Taking up the expansive nature of genocide in Canada is necessary to hear the truth that must  precede reconciliation. Examples of genocide and genocidal processes requiring sustained research and  teaching attention include, but are not limited to: 


  • Deliberate killing of Mi’kmaq peoples during the eighteenth century; 
  • The use of starvation tactics to force Indigenous Peoples onto small “reserves”, and to incentivize compliance from reserve residents; confinement under police and military control on reserves, from which they could not travel, and on which they could not make a living; 
  • The enforcement of control by Indian Agents and ministers of the federal government over the selection and terms of on-reserve leaders, eventually codified in the Indian Act; 
  • The wars and terror tactics used to eliminate and disperse the Metis from their homeland starting  in 1869/70; the refusal by each order of government to hold responsibility for Métis people, creating an accountability and jurisdictional vacuum; 
  • Use of expansionist and exploitative logics to destroy animals, plants, waters, and lands within an  imposed capitalist economic framework; 
  • The deliberate and targeted destruction of animals (like the buffalo) which provided not only food, shelter, clothing, and tools, but were also essential members of Indigenous nations as persons and protectors; 
  • The forced relocation of Inuit families and communities to fates of isolation and starvation. This included the mass slaughter of their dogs to ensure they could not travel and could not hunt. The ethnic cleansing of portions of the Arctic of their Indigenous inhabitants; 
  • Forced removal of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children from their families and placement in non Indigenous adoptive and foster homes, in what is called the Sixties Scoop; we also note that the numbers of Indigenous children presently in provincial non-Indigenous foster care exceed the numbers of those formerly incarcerated in residential schools; 
  • The gender-based genocidal targeting of Indigenous women and girls, as well as gender diverse and sexually diverse peoples. Women have been systematically stripped of their traditional power, authority, roles and support mechanisms;  
  • The sexualized, racialized violence against Indigenous women and girls that has erased and marred the lives of many, and enumerated in the MMIWG Inquiry which concludes that genocide has and continues to occur, directed at Indigenous women and girls;  
  • Forced sterilization of Indigenous women and girls through racist medical practices in some provinces, communities and hospitals; 
  • The past and present state theft of Indigenous territories; 
  • Evasion of responsibility for land theft by the state, which continues to offer inadequate redress through governance, treaty and land claims processes, while the lands and resources are exploited by corporate and state actors; 
  • The refusal of successive provincial and federal governments to halt pipeline development in certain territories, despite the lack of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) by Indigenous people responsible for those territories, a right asserted in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 


Taking up any one of these, or the multitude of other examples, within one’s research, teaching, and/or  service allows the discipline of Canadian political science to respond to the generations of professors who  used their talents to either build/maintain or train those who built/maintained policies, programs, or  institutions that committed genocide against Indigenous Peoples.


The above realizes the promise this committee made in its September 30, 2021 statement on the inaugural National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Here we explicitly recognize the expansiveness of Canada’s genocidal treatment of Indigenous Peoples. 


i Reclaiming Power and Place: the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Vol 1a. Canada, 2019. Web Archive. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/lcwaN0028038/>. p 52-53.


PDF Version of the Briefing Note HERE




CPSA Reconciliation Committee

Statement on Inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30, 2021

Indigenous Content Syllabus Materials: A Resource for Political Science Instructors in Canada

Reconciliation Committee

CPSA Reconciliation Committee Membership | Membres du comité sur la réconciliation de l’ACSP

Joyce Green – President/Présidente, Professor Emerita, Politics and International Studies/Professeure émérite, politique et études internationales – Regina
Éléna Choquette* – Assistant Professor/ Professeure adjointe – UQO
Gordon Christie – Professor/ Professeur – UBC
Veldon Coburn – Assistant Professor/ Professeur adjoint – Ottawa
Emily Grafton – Indigenous Research Lead/ Responsible de recherche autochtone – Regina
Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox – Adjunct Professor/ Professeure auxiliaire – Carleton
Matthew James* – Associate Professor/ Professeur agrégé – Victoria
Daniel Voth – Associate Professor/ Professeur agrégé- Calgary

*Matthew James was appointed for a six-month term (July 1 to Dec. 31, 2021) as a replacement for Éléna Choquette during her maternity leave.

*Matthew James a été nommé pour un mandat de six mois (du 1er juillet au 31 décembre 2021) en remplacement d’Éléna Choquette pendant son congé de maternité.

CPSA Reconciliation Committee – Memberships 2016-2020 | Comité sur la réconciliation de l’ACSP – Compositions 2016-2020


Joyce Green – Co-Chair/Co-présidente, Regina
Peter Russell – Co-Chair/Co-président, Toronto
Éléna Choquette – UQO
Veldon Coburn – Ottawa
Kiera Ladner – Manitoba
Daniel Voth – Calgary


Joyce Green – Co-Chair/Co-présidente, Regina
Peter Russell – Co-Chair/Co-président, Toronto
Isabel Altamirano – Alberta
Rauna Kuokkanen – Lapland
Kiera Ladner – Manitoba
Daniel Salée – Concordia


Glen Coulthard – Co-Chair/Co-président, UBC
Peter Russell – Co-Chair/Co-président, Toronto
Isabel Altamirano – Alberta
Rauna Kuokkanen – Lapland
Kiera Ladner – Manitoba
Daniel Salée – Concordia

May 30 mai 2023 – 2023 CPSA Conference @ York University – Congrès 2023 ACSP @ York University

 R02 – CPSA Reconciliation Committee Event – Roundtable: Dena K’eh: Embodied Sovereignty and UNDRIP in Kaska Country

Date: May 30 | Time: 10:30am to 12:00pm | Location: VPDB-DB 0011 HYBRID / hybride
Chair/Président/Présidente : Amanda Buffalo (Niece, Wolf Clan, Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society)
Dorothy Smith (Elder, Wolf Clan, Kaska Dena)
Mary Maje (Elder, Crow Clan, Kaska Dena)
Ann Maje Raider (Elder, Wolf Clan, Kaska Dena)
Linda MacDonald (Elder, Wolf Clan, Kaska Dena)
Kiera Ladner (University of Manitoba)
Joyce Green (University of Regina)
Mary Eberts (Eberts Law)
Lois Moorcroft (Feminist, Community Activist and former MLA and cabinet minister in the Government of Yukon)

June 7 juin 2021 – 2021 CPSA Conference – Congrès 2021 ACSP
Statement about the Kamloops Residential School and Reconciliation – Déclaration sur le pensionnat de Kamloops et la réconciliation

June 9 juin 2021 – 2021 CPSA Conference – Congrès 2021 ACSP
Land Acknowledgments: Do You Know Where You Are, and at Whose Expense?

Land Acknowledgments, the invocation at the beginning of a number of events and activities of the Indigenous peoples upon whose traditional land these events and activities occur, have become de rigeur. Yet, there is some concern that these invocations are done by rote, and without sufficient mindfulness of what histories and relationships the invocation recognizes. Moreover, there is no evidence that this tentative first step in recognizing Indigenous territories leads to recognizing the past and contemporary colonialism and racism that frames Indigenous existence. In this Roundtable, discussants will consider whether Land Acknowledgments constitute a collective reflection on colonialism, particularly as a predatory land occupation that continues, or whether it simply makes non-Indigenous people feel like they have done something positive, in the absence of meaningful reflection and moves to politically significant recognition of the continuing occupation of the settler state.

Chair: Veldon Coburn, Ottawa, Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Carleton, Peter Russell, Toronto, Gina Starblanket, Victoria, Daniel Voth, Calgary

June 8 juin 2021 – 2021 CPSA Conference – Congrès 2021 ACSP
Reconciling the Academy and the Discipline: From Complicity to Transformation

Universities, and Political Science in particular, have provided much ammunition for the justification of colonialism and of the racism inherent in colonialism, by promulgating certain legal, theoretical and cultural myths that have justified the project of the settler state in relation to Indigenous peoples. Political Science continues to teach a curriculum that is light to entirely free of Indigenous content, or of critical race and post-colonial theory. Universities and political science departments continue to say, regretfully, that they cannot offer more courses, enrich the existing canon, hire more Indigenous scholars and scholars on Indigenous issues, or recruit and support Indigenous student scholars. In this Roundtable, discussants will consider some aspect of the responsibility of the discipline and of the academy to engage with its complicity in colonialism and racism, and the possibility of a move toward transformation, in particular by addressing these matters.

Chair: Peter Russell, Toronto, Veldon Coburn, Ottawa, Emily Grafton, Regina, Joyce Green, Regina, Malinda Smith, Calgary

October 28, 2020 Truth and Reconciliation Review Ryerson Masters in Public Policy and Administration Program (MPPA) Department of Politics and Public Administration This report builds on Ryerson’s 2018 Report related to the TRC Calls to Action and the School of Graduate Studies Framework for Truth and Reconciliation Report The MPPA program is committed to implementing the 25 recommendations in the report and monitoring implementation each year.

January 30, 2020 Course Outlines POL484F/2026F (2019) Indigenous-Settler Relations in Canada: Monitoring Progress toward Reconciliation Professor: Melissa S. Williams University of Toronto Report on POL484F/2026F (2019) POLS 222.3 (02) Indigenous Governance and Politics Instructor: Kathy Walker University of Saskatchewan Indigenous Governance and Politics Department of Political Studies University of Saskatchewan POLI 4842.0XX The Politics of Reconciliation (summary and detailed description) Professors: Alexandra Dobrowolsky and Edna Keeble Saint Mary’s University

June 2019 2019 CPSA Annual Conference – University of British Columbia – BC June 4, 2019 Roundtable: The Problematic of Reconciliation Keynote: UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip – Asserting Indigenous Title and Rights in 2019 Roundtable: Reconciliation as if Women Mattered: Colonialism, Patriarchy, Privilege and Indigenous Liberation Roundtable: That Little Land Theft Matter: Reconciliation and Title

May 2018 2018 CPSA Annual Conference – University of Regina – Saskatchewan May 30, 2018

The Role of Scholarly Associations in Advancing Reconciliation What Can Be Done?

A special open session at Congress 2018 organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences in collaboration with the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) and the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA).   This workshop engages scholarly associations in a conversation among peers on the role that humanities and social science disciplines can play in advancing reconciliation in post-secondary education and in society more widely.   How can associations engage with their membership and across other disciplines to advance the TRC calls to action? What can associations learn from each other and what is the way forward? This session showcases the experiences of the CASWE and the CPSA in building plans of actions for advancing reconciliation.  Participants will be able to engage in critical exchanges, including sharing successes, challenges, and ideas for the future to help answer the question “what can associations do?”

May 2017 2017 CPSA Annual Conference – Ryerson University – Toronto May 31, 2017 | HEI-201 (Heidelberg Centre)

Confederation @ 150 – Roundtable Plenary Ensuring that the TRC is a Program of Action The CPSA Reconciliation Committee’s Plan and the Discipline

The 2015 publication of the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), poses challenges and opportunities for every sector of Canadian society, including those of us who are political scientists. The Commission emerged from the 2008 agreement between the federal government and the tens of thousands of indigenous children who – separated from their families and communities – had to endure the residential school system. The commission’s final report definitively documents the abuses which happened in that system. It also embeds the term “cultural genocide” into contemporary discourse through a compelling survey of Canadian politics and history. The report concludes with 94 specific “calls to action.” In response to these calls to action and to the publication of the report itself, the CPSA Board of Directors in 2016 struck a Reconciliation Committee “to report on the implications of the Truth and Reconciliation findings for political science and political scientists in Canada.” This roundtable brings together members of that Reconciliation Committee to facilitate a discussion on their deliberations to date. The TRC Report defines reconciliation as “an ongoing process of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships at all levels of Canadian society.” How we might strive to achieve this will be addressed both at this roundtable, and at the two TRC-related workshops of which it is a part.   Monitoring Progress on the Road to Reconciliation – Peter H. Russell (pdf)   Chair/Présidente Yasmeen Abu-Laban (Alberta)   Participants & Authors/Auteurs Peter Russell (Toronto) Joyce Green (Regina) Kiera Ladner (Manitoba) Rauna Kuokkanen (University of Lapland, Finland) Isabel Altamirano-Jimenez (Alberta)   Sponsor / Commanditaire 

February 2017 Federation’s Commitments and Actions on Reconciliation


February 2017 Presentation of Dr. Cindy Blackstock at the 2017 Meeting of Chairs of Departments of Political Science – University of Alberta, Edmonton – January 27-28, 2017 Presentation of Dr. Cindy Blackstock 2017 CPSA Chairs Meeting (pdf)

January 2017 CPSA Reconciliation Committee – Appointment of a New Member – Co-chair The CPSA Board of Directors appointed Dr. Joyce Green (University of Regina) to serve on the CPSA Reconciliation Committee as co-chair. The Board thanks Dr. Glen Coulthard for his work and contributions to the committee!

December 2016 CPSA Reconciliation Committee’s Plan of Action – Annual Event on Truth and Reconciliation at the CPSA Conference In December 2016, the CPSA Board of Directors approved the CPSA Reconciliation Committee’s Plan of Action and adopted a motion to organize an event on Truth and Reconciliation at each annual conference.

CPSA Reconciliation Committee Plan of Action

The Meaning of Reconciliation Reconciliation can mean simply two parties who have been estranged getting together, forgiving or forgetting past differences and moving on together in good spirits. In the context of Truth and Reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples in Canada, reconciliation must not mean that. It must address the injustices and harm inflicted by non-Aboriginal Canada on Indigenous peoples, and be a program of activities based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls for action. In making implementation of those calls the focus of its contribution to Truth and Reconciliation, the CPSA is supporting a program of action approved by the Government of Canada. If Truth and Reconciliation turns out to be nothing more than a big hug, for Indigenous peoples it will just be an addition to the list of broken promises. The Heiltsuk word “hailcistut”, meaning “to turn things around and make things right” captures well what we think reconciliation should mean. The program of action we now recommend to CPSA is based on this understanding of reconciliation. A) Enhancing Teaching

  1. The CPSA should encourage member departments to include in the early years of the undergraduate political science program coverage of the politics of Indigenous peoples-settler relations that includes the experience of settle colonization and contemporary reconciliation efforts. Ideally, we would like to see a mandatory course on this subject in political science programs. But bearing in mind the limited resouces of some institutions, we realize that it may only be possible for some departments to ensure that there is some coverage of this subject in introductory or Canadian politics courses.
  2. The CPSA should encourage member departments to make the recruitment of scholars with a knowledge of Indigenous-settler relations a recruiting priority for tenure-stream appointments or, where that is not feasible, for other kinds of appointments to the teaching stream.
  3. The CPSA should encourage member departments to explore ways in which they could recruit Indigenous students into their graduate programs and increase the inclusion of Indigenous scholarship and research in their teaching programs as well as their programs of guest seminars and lectures.
  4. The CPSA Reconciliation Committee should prepare an annotated bibliography on reconciliation politics and other relevant literature for CPSA members interested in learning more about the subject.
  5. The CPSA Reconciliation Committee should provide examples of courses and information on course materials for the use of CPSA members.
  6. The CPSA Reconciliation Committee should establish and maintain a roster of scholars who are able and willing to advise departments of political science on methodologies and materials relevant to teaching in this area.

B) Monitoring Progress The CPSA Reconciliation Committee views the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action as a good program of action “to turn things around and make things right”. The Government of Canada has also committed to implementing all of the TRC recommendations. However, to date it has made no move to implement Call #56 calling for the establishment of a National Council for Reconciliation to monitor what is termed “post-apology progress on reconciliation”. Recognizing that political scientists have a special role to play in tracking and analyzing policy, as well as the fact that Call #65 calls on the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to advance understanding of reconciliation through multiyear funding possibilities, the CPSA Reconciliation Committee will work to communicate research gaps and unfolding research opportunities to CPSA members and the political science community.  We also view the communication of research findings on reconciliation, and in particular research tracking the responses to the 94 calls for action, as an important basis of collective knowledge about reconciliation in the discipline. To this end, we will be especially attentive to research opportunities and research findings addressing the angle of progress.   C) CPSA Meeting of Chairs of Departments of Political Science 2017 Dr. Isabel Altamirano will speak on behalf of the Reconciliation Committee at the Annual Chairs Meeting to be held at the University of Alberta on January 28, 2017 to inform them of the Reconciliation Committee and action plan, and to discuss university responses to the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action.   D) Congress and CPSA Annual Meeting 2017

  1. The Action Plan that we recommend and the Board’s response to it should be discussed at the CPSA Business Meeting.
  2. Members of our Committee will participate in a Race, Ethnicity, Indigenous Peoples workshop at Congress 2017.
  3. As many members of our committee as possible will participate in a “keynote roundtable” that will discuss the CPSA Action Plan as well as summing up discussions at the REIPP workshop and another workshop on Indigenous Governance and Public Administration. The keynote roundtable is being organized by Paul Kellogg co-organizer of the REIPP section of the CPSA program.
  4. The CPSA Board should consider institutionalizing some kind of recurring event at the CPSA annual meeting relating to Truth and Reconciliaton.
  5. Our Committee will liaise with the Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences in organizing a cross-disciplinary plenary session on reconciliation at Congress 2017.

CPSA Reconciliation Committee

June 2016

 CPSA and Reconciliation Reconciliation Committee

The CPSA and Reconciliation Prepared by Yasmeen Abu-Laban

The Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released June 2015 will affect political scientists and the CPSA1. The Report defines reconciliation as an ongoing process to establish and maintain “respectful relationships” between Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal Canadians. Moreover, “A critical part of this process involves repairing damaged trust by making apologies, providing individual and collective reparations, and following through with concrete actions that demonstrate real societal change “(TRC Executive Summary, 17-18). The new Liberal government has made clear its commitment to the process of reconciliation and public institutions will be encouraged to respond to the challenges reconciliation poses.   How are political scientists likely to be affected and how might CPSA and its members respond? Post-secondary institutions, research and teaching are directly implicated in many of the 94 calls made by the TRC. They include calls for: increased access for Aboriginal people to post-secondary education; increased federal funding for post- secondary education that will support access; the diversification of university education through e.g. the development of new programs and courses in indigenous languages, history, legal traditions, and knowledge; and developing new research on the process and effects of reconciliation. This clearly involves both challenges and opportunities for political scientists. For example, the TRC Report states: “We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi- year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation” (TRC Executive Summary, 242).   How are other organizations responding? Many universities are already responding to the challenges posed by the TRC, as have other academic associations, notably the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The CPSA, likewise, needs to develop a plan for responding to the challenges and opportunities the reconciliation process will entail. As a responsible professional association, the CPSA has an obligation to help its members, and member departments, navigate the new environment. Therefore, the CPSA needs to develop its own organizational response.   Because reconciliation is an on-going process, not a one time event, and because what might be termed the “politics of reconciliation” are unfolding quickly, discussions within the Executive and with key members of the board and in the association indicated the value of having a dedicated group of political scientists addressing these issues. To this end, the CPSA Board of Directors approved the following motion on May 30, 2016:   1For an overview see also the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. Available: www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf   Motion That the CPSA Board of Directors strike a “Reconciliation Committee” to report on the implications of the Truth and Reconciliation findings for political science and political scientists in Canada;   That the committee be composed of professors Isabel Altamirano (University of Alberta), Glen Coulthard (University of British Columbia), Rauna Kuokkanen (University of Lapland, Finland), Kiera Ladner (University of Manitoba), Peter
Russell (University of Toronto, former CPSA President) and Daniel Salée (Concordia University);   That the committee make an initial report to the Board in December 2016 with a proposed plan of action for reconciliation in political science and a program for the January 2017 Chairs’ Meeting and the 2017 Annual Conference.