Decolonizing Sport

edited by Janice Forsyth, Christine O’Bonsawin, Russell Field and Murray G. Phillips  

Indigenous Peoples have taken physical recreational activity – sport – back from the colonizers. One of very few books to show the two edges of sport: it colonized but is now decolonizing.

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  • November 2023
  • ISBN: 9781773636344
  • 276 pages
  • $29.00
  • For sale worldwide
  • EPUB November 2023
  • ISBN: 9781773636443
  • $28.99
  • For sale worldwide
  • PDF November 2023
  • ISBN: 9781773636436
  • $28.99
  • For sale worldwide

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About the book

Decolonizing Sport tells the stories of sport colonizing Indigenous Peoples and of Indigenous Peoples using sport to decolonize. Spanning several lands — Turtle Island, the US, Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand and Kenya — the authors demonstrate the two sharp edges of sport in the history of colonialism. Colonizers used sport, their own and Indigenous recreational activities they appropriated, as part of the process of dispossession of land and culture. Indigenous mascots and team names, hockey at residential schools, lacrosse and many other examples show the subjugating force of sport. Yet, Indigenous Peoples used sport, playing their own games and those of the colonizers, including hockey, horse racing and fishing, and subverting colonial sport rules as liberation from colonialism. This collection stands apart from recent publications in the area of sport with its focus on Indigenous Peoples, sport and decolonization, as well as in imagining a new way forward.

Cultural Studies History Indigenous Resistance & Decolonization


Janice Forsyth

Janice Forsyth is a member of the Fisher River Cree First Nation and a professor in the Faculty of Education, School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia. She is a recognized leader in Indigenous sport development in Canada. Her research has generated significant national and international attention among scholars and practitioners, and several of her studies are included in the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2017, she was elected to the College of the Royal Society of Canada for her contributions to research and advocacy.

Christine O’Bonsawin

Christine O’Bonsawin is a member of the Abenaki Nation of Odanak and an associate professor of history and Indigenous studies at the University of Victoria, located on Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ Territories. Her scholarship takes up questions regarding the appropriation and subjugation of Indigenous Peoples’ identities and cultures in Olympic history and the future programming of the Games.Her work has recently focused on the legal and political rights of Indigenous peoples in relation to Canada’s hosting of the Olympic Games and other mega-sporting events on unceded Indigenous territories. O’Bonsawin co-authored Challenging Racist “British Columbia”: 150 Years and Counting and co-edited a special issue of BC Studies: (Un)Settling the Islands: Race, Indigeneity and the Transpacific.

Russell Field

Russell Field is an associate professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba. His research explores sport and social justice, with current projects focusing on global sporting events as sites of resistance and protest, as well as the concept of “people’s history.” He is the principal investigator of the SSHRC-funded project A People’s History of Sport in Canada. He is the founder and executive director of the Canadian Sport Film Festival.

Murray G. Phillips

Murray Phillips is a professor of sport history in the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland. He was the interim head of the School and acting director of the university’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. He is president of the North American Society for Sport History and was president of the Australian Society for Sport History and editor of the Journal of Sport History.


  • Sport, Colonialism and Decolonization (Janice Forsyth, Christine O’Bonsawin, Murray G. Phillips and Russell Field)
  • Section 1: Storytelling Beyond Competition: An Indigenous Perspective on Organized Sport (Brian Rice)
  • More Than a Mascot: How the Mascot Debate Erases Indigenous People in Sport (Natalie Welch)
  • Section 2: Interrogating the Archive Witnessing Painful Pasts: Understanding Images of Sports at Canadian Indian Residential Schools (Taylor McKee and Janice Forsyth)
  • On the Absence of Indigenous Moving Bodies: Whiteness, Decolonization and Indigenous/Indigenizing Sport History (Malcolm MacLean)
  • Section 3: Rights and Reconciliation # 87: Reconciliation, Sport History and Indigenous Peoples in Canada (Victoria Paraschak)
  • Taken at Face Value: The Legal Feasibility of Indigenous-Led Olympic Games (Christine O’Bonsawin)
  • Section 4: Settler Colonialism Canoe Races to Fishing Guides: Sport and Settler Colonialism in Mi’kma’ki (John Reid)
  • Moments of Transcending Colonialism? Rodeos and Races in Lethbridge (Robert Kossuth)
  • “Men Pride Themselves on Feats of Endurance”: Masculinities and Movement Cultures in Kenyan Running History (Michelle M. Sikes)
  • Section 5: Resistance and Activism Stealing, Drinking and Non-Cooperation: Sport, Everyday Resistance in Aboriginal Settlements in Australia (Gary Osmond)
  • Let’s Make Baseball! Practices of Unsettling on the Recreational Ball Diamonds of Tkaronto/Toronto (Craig Fortier and Colin Hastings)
  • Subjugating and Liberating at Once: Indigenous Sport History as a Double Edged Sword (Brendan Hokowhitu)


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