In the Spring 1976 interview of Margaret Atwood by Linda Sandler, published in the Malahat Review 41 (1977), and included in the 1990 collection titled Margaret Atwood Conversations, edited by Earl G. Ingersoll, Canada’s most famous author remarked, “America is a tragic country because it has great democratic ideals and rigid social machinery. But Canada is not tragic, in the classical sense, because it doesn’t have a utopian vision.”
This utopian vision, long betrayed by hegemonic policy, is nevertheless an opening through which moral sanction can be applied. As reported by Sacred Land Film Project, moral sanction — in terms of changing U.S. policy toward American Indian sacred sites — produced in December 2012 a memorandum of understanding involving the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture and Energy that holds promise of improving relationships between the Government of the United States and Indian tribes.
Perhaps this vision is what explains that while the US seems to be slowly moving toward reconciliation with Indian tribes, Canada seems to be running away from making amends with First Nations. Both the US and Canada have far to go in becoming human, but orienting forward rather than backward helps.
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