Degrees of Freedom in Canada’s Culture of Redress

James, Matt (2014). Degrees of freedom in Canada’s culture of redress. Citizenship Studies, 19(1), 35-52.

This article examines some recent Canadian projects of historical narrative revision in light of Canada’s broader redress culture: the recurring norms and assumptions that govern its apportionment of causal and reparative responsibility for historic wrongs. To this end, it studies several grassroots commemorative projects funded under the Community Historical Recognition Program. It asks whether these projects contribute to forging a broader culture of redress capable of contributing to a goal that this article identifies as a central underlying justification for enterprises of historical justice in general: democratizing citizenship. Thus, the article aims to fulfil two main objectives. First, it offers an empirical analysis of some important Canadian historical justice initiatives, thus contributing to our understanding of a case often seen as a leader in redress politics. Second, by developing and then applying its own account of how historical justice projects can contribute to goals of democratic citizenship, the article offers what I hope is a suggestive model for analysing and evaluating particular acts or policies of historical redress more generally. A key conclusion from this analysis is that the Canadian example is much less inspiring than often assumed.