In Canada an officially mandated truth commission inquiring into the forced assimilation and abuse of Indigenous children in state-organized and funded residential schools raises profound and in many ways quite novel questions about transitional justice concerning Indigenous peoples in advanced capitalist societies. This article compares the Canadian case with that of a quintessential transitional justice pioneer: Argentina. Focusing on the efforts of justice-seekers in each country, it reveals similarities in their respective pursuits of what the article identifies as three important transitional justice goals: reparation, responsibility and reframing. However, the article also finds a crucial difference between the two cases. This difference is that justice seekers in Argentina have placed a heavy emphasis on social and political accountability, a goal that, in various ways, has received much less attention in the Canadian case. We conclude that this absence raises broader issues about transitional justice processes in countries marked by ongoing legacies of anti-Indigenous colonialism—issues that Canadians from the settler society, in particular, must begin urgently to address.


Both authors gratefully acknowledge support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Thanks also to Julia Bareman and Adam Molnar for excellent research assistance, and to Rosemary Nagy, Pablo Policzer, and Robinder Sehdev for helpful comments.

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