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rec·on·cile: to heal, to harmonize, to bring together
Meeting in council to consult, deliberate and make decisions affecting the wider community has been a way to govern human affairs for almost as long as human society has existed.
Often, councils have chosen symbols to designate their authority. Canada’s governing councils — or parliaments — use the mace. The mace is an integral part of our parliamentary regalia, symbolizing the authority of the legislative assembly as exercised by its members.
Whether it be in the Senate or the House of Commons, the mace is carried into the legislative chamber at the beginning of every sitting day and placed on the table in front of the Speaker, where it remains until the sitting is adjourned. Once convened, the legislature may proceed to decide matters of government.
Somewhat like the mace, the talking stick — a symbolic instrument of democracy employed by many Indigenous Peoples along our Northwest Coast — is used to indicate who may speak. (A feather, sacred shell, wampum belt or other symbolic object may also be used for this purpose.)
Canada is heir to three founding governing traditions — Indigenous, French and British — and yet the design of our mace, with its roses, its shamrocks and thistles, its fleurs-de-lys, signifies and celebrates only two. We believe this must change.
We hold that symbols are important in the conduct of human affairs and that national symbols should reflect the cultures from which they arose. Given that the Canadian government has committed this country to a process of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, we believe the government should move to ensure its national political symbols reflect the histories and cultures of all our founding traditions.
There are precedents. Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories use maces whose designs are consistent with their regional cultures, histories and traditions. Redesigning our parliamentary mace to include symbols of Canada’s Indigenous cultures will recognize in a highly visible manner that Canada’s Indigenous traditions must be an integral part of the way our country is governed. It’s time to harmonize our diverse governing cultures and symbols. It’s time to bring our histories together.
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