Visions of Indigenous Self-Government
Canada Research Chair Dr. Kiera Ladner is an expert in the field of indigenous politics and the competing visions of indigenous self-government in Canada. Her community based research into constitutional reconciliation and decolonization is creating a deeper understanding of these rival ideas and the tensions they have created, both within communities and between First Nations and Canada.
In Canada, indigenous politics is defined by two very different visions of self-government: the political traditions of First Nations, and the Canadian constitutional order. Indigenous and Canadian authorities are divided on the existence of a right to self-government, the applicability of Canadian law and jurisdiction on reserve, claims of sovereignty, and the necessity of negotiating self-governments agreements.
These conflicting ideas have also created tensions within indigenous communities themselves. There are supporters of the band council system, for instance, who want to negotiate a revised political system within a framework governed by the Canadian political order. There are others, however, who support a traditional indigenous political system and seek to disengage from the imposed constitutional order.
Ladner's research aims to bring communities together, engaging grassroots, traditional leadership, and Indian Act leaders in discussions about their visions of the future. What do they see as self-government? What is the meaning of indigenous governance and traditional governance? Can traditional governance be recreated to meet modern needs?
Ladner is also developing processes of reconciliation and decolonization and she is looking at ways in which a community's vision of governance can be reconciled with, not overpowered by, the Canadian constitutional order.