Last night, University of Guelph Professor David B. MacDonald and University of Guelph Indigenous (Metis) scholar and Associate Professor at Family Relations and Applied Nutrition Kim Anderson, took to the stage for an engaging discussion centered on David's new book on genocide and Indian Residential Schools in Canada.
The book, The Sleeping Giant Awakens: Genocide, Indian Residential Schools, and the Challenge of Conciliation is available for purchase in the bookstore.
Pictures by Ben Minett
Confronting the truths of Canada’s Indian Residential School system has been likened to waking a sleeping giant. In The Sleeping Giant Awakens: Genocide, Indian Residential Schools, and the Challenge of Conciliation, David uses genocide as an analytical tool to better understand Canada’s past and present relationships between settlers and Indigenous peoples. Starting with a discussion of how genocide is defined in domestic and international law, the book applies the concept to the forced transfer of Indigenous children to residential schools and the "Sixties Scoop," in which Indigenous children were taken from their communities and placed in foster homes or adopted.
Based on archival research and extensive interviews with residential school survivors, officials at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and others, The Sleeping Giant Awakens offers a unique and timely perspective on the prospects for conciliation after genocide, exploring how moving forward together is difficult in a context where many settlers know little of the residential schools and the ongoing legacies of colonization, and need to have a better conception of Indigenous rights. It offers a detailed analysis of how the TRC approached genocide in its deliberations and in the Final Report.
Crucially, MacDonald engages critics who argue that the term genocide impedes understanding of the IRS system and imperils prospects for conciliation. By contrast, this book sees genocide recognition as an important basis for meaningful discussions of how to engage Indigenous-settler relations in respectful and proactive ways. This is a Bookshelf staff pick.
David B MacDonald is a mixed-race political science professor from Treaty 4 lands in Regina, Saskatchewan. He has been at the University of Guelph since 2007, and has also held faculty positions in Political Studies at Otago University, New Zealand and at the ESCP Graduate School of Management, Paris, France. He was appointed as the Research Leadership Chair for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences in 2017. Much of his writing is in the fields of comparative Indigenous politics, comparative genocide studies, and international relations. David has a 5-year SSHRCC Insight Grant (with co-researcher Sheryl Lightfoot) on Indigenous practices of self-determination in comparative perspective, with a focus on Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand.
Check out his website for more info: www.davidbmacdonald.com.