Brock University

Indigeneity and Inequaliy in Canada

There are profound inequalities within Canada between First Nations, other Aboriginal, and non-Aboriginal people. This session is open to both empirical and theoretical contributions on the relationships between Canadian settlers and original peoples. Papers might explore lingering colonial patterns of governance which perpetuate inequality, or outcomes of historical policies. Other forms of racism against First Nations and Aboriginal people could also be documented. Inequalities referred to might be in terms of economic opportunities, economic outcomes, education, cultural supports, well-being, rights, community-capacity- investments, social services, political representation, access to resources, or any other relevant equity issues. Both Sociological and interdisciplinary contributions are entirely welcome.

Session Organizer: Mary Ellen Donnan, Bishop's University,


Inadequate Housing of Aboriginal People in Winnipeg with Low-Incomes

Mary Ellen Donnan, Bishop's University,

The quality and quantity of housing for Aborginal people has been identified by the Assembly of First Nations  as a serious and urgent social concern.  This paper traces numerous ways in which continuing colonial practices are significant factors in the Aboriginal housing crisis. The Indian Act, the reserve system and the lack of culturally-appropriate psychological supports for residential school survivors are all relevant to poorer housing conditions for Aboriginal people than for other Canadians. Data from Winnipeg is presented as a case study illustrating the intersection of market, educational, employment, demographic and social service factors which impact housing choices for Aboriginal people in that city.  A series of policy changes will be needed before housing inequalities across the settler/indigenous divide can be significantly diminished.


From Recognition to Affirmation: Aboriginal Rights and Colonial Decision in Canada

Carol Linnitt, University of Victoria,

This paper will interrogate the notion of Aboriginal Rights as enshrined within the Canadian Constitution and enacted through case law. Using theoretical analyses of sovereignty, decision and the state of exception/emergency I will engage what Giorgio Agamben refers to as the ‘threshold of the law,’ the space between law and its application which exposes the suspension of ordinary legal order in issues relating to Aboriginal rights. This suspension, interrogated as a form of colonial power, will be applied to the decision of the courts over the precedent-setting case R v. Gladstone.  In describing the interaction of Canadian jurisprudence and Aboriginal rights as occurring within a state of emergency, I intend to demonstrate the primacy of sovereign decision over constitutional law in R v. Gladstone, as well as the implications of such colonial ‘decisionism’ for the pursuit of justice.  In conclusion, I will regard the state of emergency as a site of emergence, where alternative approaches to law and justice may arise, specifically through the work of Jacques Derrida and John Borrows.


© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie