Canada at a Crossroads: Boundaries, Bridges, and Laissez-Faire Racism in Indigenous-Settler Relations
Published: March 2020© 2020
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 384 Pages
Illustrations: 2 figures
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
384 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.95 in, 2 figures
Winner of the John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award, Canada at a Crossroads draws on group position theory, settler colonial studies, critical race theory, and Indigenous theorizing. Canada at a Crossroads emphasizes the social psychological barriers to transforming white settler ideologies and practices and working towards decolonization. After tracing settlers’ sense of group superiority and entitlement to historical and ongoing colonial processes, Denis illustrates how contemporary Indigenous and settler residents think about and relate to one another. He highlights how, despite often having close cross-group relationships, residents maintain conflicting perspectives on land, culture, history, and treaties, and Indigenous residents frequently experience interpersonal and systemic racism. Denis then critically assesses the promise and pitfalls of commonly proposed solutions, including intergroup contact, education, apologies, and collective action, and concludes that genuine reconciliation will require radically restructuring Canadian society and perpetually fulfilling treaty responsibilities.
Introduction: Boundaries and Bridges in Indigenous-Settler Relations
1. Colonization and the Development of Group Positions: A Brief History of Indigenous-Settler Relations in the Rainy River District
2. Perceiving Group Relations, Constructing Group Positions: "It’s okay as long as the Indians know their place!"
3. Boundary Work and Group Positioning: How Perceptions of Boundaries Reproduce and Challenge Settler Colonial Relations
4. Racism, Prejudice, and Discrimination: Group Positioning in Everyday Attitudes and Behaviours
5. The Alberton Group Home Controversy: "I have Native friends, but this is going too far"
6. Bridge Work: Beyond Group Positioning?
7. A Tenuous Balance: How Contact and Prejudice Coexist
8. Education, Group Positioning, and Ideological Refinement
9. Racial Contestation and the Residential School Apology
10. The Benefits and Challenges of Collective Action: "We can work together if we want to work together"
Conclusion: Canada at a Crossroads
"By examining Indigenous-settler relations on a local level Canada at a Crossroads offers a critique that is useful in imagining broader frameworks. It proves that contact on a local level is not enough to overcome the rigidity of group positions and the sense of superiority that underpins settler ideologies. To really overcome boundaries and build bridges, settlers need to address laissez-faire racism by working to understand the history of settler colonialism, Indigenous treaty rights and land claims of the region, and to address white supremacy and privilege."Alice Higgs, JACANZS
"Canada at a Crossroads is rich in empirical detail that provides a 360 degree, nuanced view of the differences within and between indigenous and non-indigenous communities in Rainy River, what brings them together, what divides them and their varying understandings of what constitutes both ‘bridges’ and ‘boundaries.’ This is an important book that makes an original and thoughtful contribution to the discussion of indigenous-settler relations in Canada – and other white settler societies."Avril Bell, Department of Sociology, University of Auckland
"With excellent scholarship and in-depth field work, Canada at a Crossroads is rich in research, utilizing several research strategies to support findings including observation, questionnaire, photo-voice, archival research, and interviews."James Frideres, Department of Sociology, University of Calgary
- John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award
Canadian Sociological Association