August 4, 2008 – Within the Canadian context, there are several groups seeking some form of redress and reparations for historical acts of injustices brought against their ancestors, and in some cases survivors, by governments in Canada.
Starting with the Aboriginal Peoples, their land claims and treaty compliance (grounded in the Canadian Constitution, and before that the British North American Act) by the Canadian Government are at the core of their quest for redress. Separate from other groups seeking redress and reparations, the situation of Aboriginal Peoples is considered as a distinct matter, premised on their status and identity as the first peoples of Canada and their related rights to nationhood and self-determination which were destroyed through the theft of their land, language and culture by the colonizers – the effects of which are still evident among Aboriginal Peoples and their communities. Consequently, Aboriginal Peoples call for redress and reparations is approached differently from other communities.
In addition to Aboriginal claims, there are several other racial, ethnic and religious groups who are seeking redress and reparations. According to Gerald L. Gall, May M. Cheng and Keiko Miki in their "Paper on Redress for Past Government Wrongs", prepared for the Secretary of State, Multiculturalism for the UN World Conference in 2001, there are currently 11 redress claims that have been put forward by several different ethno-racial and religious communities for past wrongs, which include:
1847 – 1985: Forced Assimilation and Abuse of Aboriginal children in Residential Schools
1885 – 1946: Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Acts
1891 – 1956: Imprisonment of leprosy patients, mostly Chinese, on two Victoria Area Islands
1900 – 1932: Unjust Treatment of Blacks from the Caribbean
1914 – 1920: Internment of Ukrainian Canadians during WWI
1938 – 1948: Denial of Entry to persons of Jewish descent in Canada
1940 – 1943: Internment of Italian Canadians during WWII
1940 – 1943: Internment of German Canadians during WWII
1942 – 1949: Internment and relocation of Japanese Canadians during and after WWII; and
Post 1949: Denial of Benefits to Aboriginal War Veterans
Since the World Conference Against Racism, other communities have advanced onto the national stage to press ahead with their calls for redress and reparations.
Some of these communities include:
Regardless of where these communities are positioned on the continuum of engagement with government, they are purposeful in their positions and their expected outcomes.