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Beyond the Crossroads: Persisting Colonial Patterns, Changing Settler Mindsets

Critical Sociology Webinar 2022

This John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award keynote presentation was held as part of the 2022 Canadian Sociological Association Conference / Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences Congress.

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Moderator: Dr. Vanessa Watts, McMaster University and Chair of the Decolonization Subcommittee

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jeffrey Denis, McMaster University

Drawing on the author’s 2020 book, Canada at a Crossroads: Boundaries, Bridges, and Laissez-Faire Racism in Indigenous-Settler Relations, this presentation will first outline a model – informed by group position theory, settler colonial theory, and critical Indigenous studies – for explaining persistent anti-Indigenous racism. Based on ethnographic, archival, and interview research with Anishinaabe, Métis, and white residents of Treaty #3 Territory (Northwestern Ontario), it will highlight how social psychological processes – including settlers’ sense of group superiority and entitlement, subtyping, and avoidance – reduce the effectiveness of commonly proposed solutions, such as intergroup contact and education. It will then show how settler responses to recent events across Canada – including the revelation of unmarked graves at former residential school sites – provide evidence of these same troubling patterns, but also glimmers of hope for a growing sense of settler responsibility and solidarity.

This book, authored by Dr. Jeffrey Denis from McMaster University, received the 2021 John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award. The adjudication committee felt that the book encapsulates many salient issues revolving around racial inequality, ethno-racial relations, and resource distribution that are prominent in Canada today, while proposing applied solutions to the unequal relations between Indigenous and settler populations.