Genocide Against Indigenous Peoples, Elision, and the Conciliation Challenge in Canada

November 1, 2019 @ 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
160 Elizabeth Dafoe Library, University of Manitoba
25 Chancellors Circle
Winnipeg, Mb
Canada R3T 2N2
Andrew Woolford
(204) 474-6058

This talk foregrounds the lack of discussion of genocide in the 2019 federal election, despite admissions by Prime Minister Trudeau that genocide had been committed by the state against Indigenous peoples, and that the legacies were ongoing. I then discuss how we can best engage the study of genocide against Indigenous peoples in a Canadian context. The primary focus is genocide as forcible transfer and how the case can be made for this in the Indian Residential Schools and through the 60s Scoop. I have described two forms of genocide definition: legalist and pluralist forms. The legalist and pluralist forms apply well to the IRS system, the pluralist works well to understand the 60s scoop, while a mixture of the two also work well to make sense of the starvation of Indigenous peoples, or the “clearing of the plains.” In the second half of the presentation, I focus on the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and its conclusion of genocide which merges both the legalist and pluralist conceptions together in an effort to decolonize both international law and genocide studies. I conclude with a discussion of federal politics and the very visible lack of discussion of genocide and what this means for conciliation going forward. Parts of this are drawn from my 2019 book The Sleeping Giant Awakens: Genocide, Indian Residential Schools, and the Challenge of Conciliation.

Presenter Bio

David B MacDonald is a mixed-race political science professor from Treaty 4 lands in Regina, Saskatchewan, with Trinidad Indian and Scottish ancestry. He is a full professor at the University of Guelph and in 2017 was appointed as the Research Leadership Chair for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. He has a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and has also held faculty positions at at Otago University, New Zealand and the ESCP Graduate School of Management, Paris, France. His research lies in comparative Indigenous politics, international relations, Indigenous-settler relations, and genocide studies. His most recent books are Populism and World Politics: Exploring Inter- and Transnational Dimensions, co-edited with  F.A. Stengel and D. Nabers (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019) and The Sleeping Giant Awakens: Genocide, Indian Residential Schools, and the Challenge of Conciliation (University of Toronto Press, 2019). This book is in part based on his work for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2012, when he wrote a report on the genocide convention and its applicability in Canada. David has a 5-year SSHRC Insight Grant with co-researcher Sheryl Lightfoot on Indigenous practices of self-determination in comparative perspective (entitled “Complex Sovereignties”, with a focus on Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Co-sponsored by: Department of Sociology and Criminology, Peace and Conflict Studies, Master of Human Rights, the Canada Research Chair in Miyo we’citowin, Indigenous Governance and Digital Sovereignties, and the Centre for Human Rights Research.