Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada

By Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker  

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Canada has never had an “Indian problem”— but it does have a Settler problem. But what does it mean to be Settler? And why does it matter?

Through an engaging, and sometimes enraging, look at the relationships between Canada and Indigenous nations, Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada explains what it means to be Settler and argues that accepting this identity is an important first step towards changing those relationships. Being Settler means understanding that Canada is deeply entangled in the violence of colonialism, and that this colonialism and pervasive violence continue to define contemporary political, economic and cultural life in Canada. It also means accepting our responsibility to struggle for change. Settler offers important ways forward — ways to decolonize relationships between Settler Canadians and Indigenous peoples — so that we can find new ways of being on the land, together.

This book presents a serious challenge. It offers no easy road, and lets no one off the hook. It will unsettle, but only to help Settler people find a pathway for transformative change, one that prepares us to imagine and move towards just and beneficial relationships with Indigenous nations. And this way forward may mean leaving much of what we know as Canada behind.

“Both callous and empathetic approaches to indigenous dysfunction have always focused on the Indian ‘problem.’ And yet, settler colonialism as a mode of domination is fundamentally constituted by the unequal relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous collectives. This book finally focuses on the real ‘problem.’ It was hidden in plain sight all along: the settler.”

— — Lorenzo Veracini, associate professor of history and politics,  Swinburne University of Technology, author of Settler Colonialism

  • EPUB
  • ISBN: 9781552667798
  • December 2015
  • $18.99
  • For sale worldwide
  • Kindle
  • ISBN: 9781552668719
  • December 2015
  • $18.99
  • For sale worldwide

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  • “An excellent scholarly and political contribution in thinking about Indigenous and Settler relations in Canada.”

    — Chizuru Nobe-Ghelani, Transnational Social Review, Aug 2017 (full review)

  • Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada denounces the idea of an “Indian problem” and presents the “settler problem.”

    If the settler realizes that he is indeed a settler, and that he is a part of the problem, then the first step towards decolonization has been made.

    — The Manitoban, Nov. 2015 (full review)


  • “Forever” by Janet Rogers
  • Introduction: Why Say Settler
  • Canada and Settler Colonialism
  • It’s Always All About the Land
  • “Settling” Our Differences
  • Fear, Complicity and Productive Discomfort
  • Decolonization and Dangerous Freedom
  • References


  • Emma Battell Lowman

    Emma Battell Lowman has a PhD in sociology and history from the University of Warwick, UK, and holds an MA in history from the University of Victoria. She is a trans-Atlantic Settler of both Canadian and British nationalities.

  • Adam J. Barker

    Adam J. Barker holds a PhD in human geography from the University of Leicester, UK, and an MA in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria. He is a Settler Canadian originally from the borderlands of Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory near Hamilton, Ontario.

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