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Research in Progress Seminar (RIPS) - October 26, 2021

Reckoning with the colonial present: the failures of reconciliation and the denialism of the Canadian state

Oct 04, 2021

This summer, hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children were discovered at premises of former residential schools throughout Canada. In May, Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia revealed preliminary results from a survey of the grounds at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School that detected the remains of more than 200 children could be buried at the site. In June, the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan announced a preliminary finding of 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School. This is still an unfolding process, with many more Indigenous communities initiating the process of searching former residential school premises.

This panel brings together three scholars from Indigenous Studies and Political Science, Dr. Vanessa Watts, Dr. Robert Innes, and Dr. David MacDonald, in a conversation about the residential school system and the discovery of unmarked graves over the summer, the denialism of the Canadian state, and the failures of reconciliation.

Vanessa Watts is Mohawk and Anishinaabe Bear Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River.  She is an assistant professor of Indigenous Studies and Sociology at McMaster University, and holds the Paul R. MacPherson Chair in Indigenous Studies. Her research examines Indigenist epistemological and ontological interventions on place-based, material knowledge production. Vanessa is particularly interested in Indigenous feminisms, sociology of knowledge, Indigenous governance, and other-than-human relations as forms of Indigenous ways of knowing. 

 Robert Alexander Innes is a member of Cowessess First Nation, located in Treaty 4 territory, and an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. He is the author of Elder Brother and the Law of the People: Contemporary Kinship and Cowessess First Nation (University of Manitoba Press, 2013), the co-editor along with Kim Anderson of Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration (University of Manitoba Press, 2015), co-editor along with Robert Henry, Amanda LaVallee, and Nancy Van Styvendale of Global Indigenous Health: Reconciling the Past, Engaging the Present, Animating the Future (University of Arizona Press, 2018), co-editor along with Jennifer Adese of Indigenous Celebrity: Entanglements with Fame (University of Manitoba Press, 2021), and co-editor along with Nancy Van Styvendale, Jade McDougall, and Robert Henry The Arts of Indigenous Health and Healing (University of Manitoba Press, 2021). His current research explores the genocide the Canadian government inflicted on First Nations and Métis people in the Cypress Hills in southwest Saskatchewan during the 1880s.

David B. MacDonald is a mixed-race Indo-Trinidadian and Scottish political science professor at the University of Guelph. He is from Treaty 4 lands in Regina, Saskatchewan. He was appointed as the Research Leadership Chair for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences from 2017-2020. He has also been a faculty member at Otago University, Aotearoa, New Zealand, and the ESCP Graduate School of Management, Paris, France. He has a 5-year SSHRC 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 (  His recent books are The Sleeping Giant Awakens: Genocide, Indian Residential Schools, and the Challenge of Conciliation (University of Toronto Press, 2019) and Populism and World Politics: Exploring Inter- and Transnational Dimensions, co-edited with F.A. Stengel and D. Nabers (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019).

Date: Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Time: 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. EST
Online Session: Register for this event 

All are welcome to attend this FREE virtual session.

NOTE: This session may be recorded.