The award-winning Canadian author and social commentator, John Ralston Saul, delivered the 2009 annual UBC – Laurier Institution Multiculturalism Lecture.
His topic, based on work in his latest book, A Fair County: Telling Truths About Canada, was “The Aboriginal Peoples and New Canadians: The Missing Conversation”.
In A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada, Saul delves into our history and argues that our ties to the Aboriginal people are far stronger than our ties to the European. He suggests that we are a nation heavily influenced and shaped by Aboriginal ideas of egalitarianism, a desire to resolve conflict with negotiation over violence and a commitment to maintaining a balance between the individual and the group.
His provocative declaration that we are a “metis nation” touches as much on the question of who we are as a nation as much as it does the roadmap to our future.
Canada was built over its first centuries on a conversation between Aboriginal Peoples and what we would now call the immigrants. This is the most important missing conversation in Canada today. In order to make the country work, we have to find ways to put this conversation back at the centre of Canadian affairs.
Saul was joined by two distinguished panelists, National Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Shawn Atleo, and Associate Dean for Indigenous Education & Acting Director of NITEP (Native Indian Teacher Education Program) Jo-Anne Archibald. The evening offered the opportunity to continue the national dialogue launched with the publication of Saul’s book, A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada.