“That All Came Out of Activism”[i]: Personal and Professional Activism in Indigenous History and History Departments in Canada 

Selected Recent (mostly English-language) Work

Mary Jane Logan McCallum

University of Winnipeg

In the past two years, professional historians and university history departments in Canada have been engaging publicly with Indigenous history and advocating for Indigenous historical perspectives more than ever before. This bibliography of selected English-language works marks moments of convergence for Indigenous History, Historians and History Departments especially in the years 2020-2022. 

This time is marked by global challenges to symbols of imperialism in public space and what they represent in a context of Indigenous histories of dispossession. It is also marked by a deep critical view of Indigenous-state relations and native-newcomer relations that insists on firm grounding in both historical and contemporary local, national and international contexts as well as rigorous evidence-based historical research. Five key events motivated much of this work: challenges to who and what Canadians choose to publicly commemorate and how, the uncovering of unmarked burials at Kamloops Indian residential school and other campuses, writing on the “Cancel Canada Day” movement, critical responses to the Canadian Historical Association Council’s Statement on Genocide and the ninth annual Orange Shirt Day and the first official National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, September 30, 2022. 

These events drew media attention and, in many places, thoughtful and timely public responses. They also coincided with the global COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of schools across the country. Much of this public academic history discussion therefore unfolded in online conferencing formats and was recorded and available to for anyone to watch on their own time for free, and link to these recordings are provided below. More comment occurred in shorter scholarly discussions than in typical scholarly publications and it is likely that more of this type of publication will surface in the near future as well.

While it is not written exclusively for them, this bibliography speaks most directly to faculty who work in history departments in Canadian Universities. It aims to communicate the range of ideas and activities relevant to professional historians, History departments and the Universities in a time when departments are increasingly acknowledging and sometimes reckoning their own place within this past. As Indigenous history takes a rightful place in History departments, there remains much education and professional development for our work places and colleagues in order for our work to remain relevant and accessible to Indigenous people, including working historians. This bibliography will hopefully prove helpful and inspiring.[2]

Screen Shot from the “Indigenous Experiences and Decolonization” Panel hosted by the Canadian Historical Association, 2 March 2022.  Left To Right: Back Row: Lianne Leddy, Blank, Daniel Sims, Cody Groat.  Middle Row: Brenda Macdougall, Molly Swain, Paul Gareau, Deborah Lee.  Bottom Row: Crystal Fraser, another image of Crystal Fraser and Chair, Allyson Stevenson.

Canadian History, Canadian Historians, and Genocide

Council of the Canadian Historical Association. “The History of Violence Against Indigenous Peoples Fully Warrants the Use of the Word ‘Genocide.” Canada Day Statement.” 30 June 2021.https://cha-shc.ca/advocacy/the-history-of-violence-against-indigenous-peoples-fully-warrants-the-use-of-the-word-genocide-2021-06-30.htm

Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga. “Statement of Condolence and Commitment to Action. https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/historical-studies/historical-studies-statement-condolence-and-commitment-action

Department of History, University of Manitoba. Twitter Essay and Thread 2 June 2021. https://twitter.com/UM_HistoryDept/status/1400099693275848710?s=20&t=svU8l408zjXhaQAtB2Gnmg

Department of History, University of New Brunswick. Facebook Post Offering Professional Historical Research Assistance to Indigenous Nations. 31 May 2021. https://www.facebook.com/UNBHistory

Department of History, York University. “Statement on the Unmarked Graves at former residential schools.” n/d https://www.yorku.ca/laps/hist/wp-content/uploads/sites/210/2021/07/Residential-Schools-Statement.pdf

Duhamel, Karine and Adele Perry. “A Season of Historical Reckoning.” Winnipeg Free Press 12 July 2021. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/a-season-of-historical-reckoning-574813912.html

Heer, Jeet and Sarah Nickel. “Mass Graves and Indigenous Resistance,” Interview on The Time of Monsters Podcast 10 June, 2021.  https://jeetheer.substack.com/p/podcast-mass-graves-and-indigenous?r=bh54&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=twitter&s=r

Macdougald, Brenda, Mary Jane McCallum, Kim Anderson, Alan Ojiig Corbiere, Susan Hill, Winona Wheeler and Robert Alexander Innes. “Open Letter to the Council of the Canadian Historical Association and the Canadian Public.” Shekon Neechie 13 August 2021. https://shekonneechie.ca/2021/08/13/open-letter-to-the-council-of-the-canadian-historical-association-and-the-canadian-public/

Milligan, Ian and Thomas Peace. “It’s Time to End the History Wars.” Active History 21 August 2021. http://activehistory.ca/2021/08/it-is-time-to-end-the-history-wars/

Millions, Erin and Mary Jane Logan McCallum. “Toppling Colonialism: Historians, genocide, and Missing Indigenous Children.” Prairie History 5 (Summer 2021).

Mosby, Ian and Erin Millions. “Canada’s Residential Schools Were a Horror.” Scientific American 21 August 2021. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/canadas-residential-schools-were-a-horror/

Stephen High. “Media Coverage – Reaction to the Canadian Historical Association’s Canada day Statement Recognizing the Genocide of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.” Canadian Historical Association Website 17 September 2021. https://cha-shc.ca/news/media-coverage-reaction-to-the-canadian-historical-associations-canada-day-statement-recognizing-the-genocide-of-indigenous-peoples-in-canada-2021-09-17

Indigenization, Decolonization and University-based History

Arsenault, Mathieu, Leila Inksetter, Jonathan Lainey, and Brian Gettler, “L’autochtonisation de l’enseignement de l’histoire,” Panel at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, June 29, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWdIQS6220Q

Carleton, Sean, Chair, Roland Bohr, Jason Yaremko, Karen Froman, Mary Jane McCallum and Ben Nobbs-Thiessen. “Like Paddling Upstream: Indigenous History and Curriculum Structures in Canadian University History Departments.” Canadian Historical Association Indigenous History Group, 26 January, 2022. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1553402478261783

Fraser, Crystal and Allyson Stevenson, “Reflecting on the Foundations of Our Discipline Inspired by the TRC: A Duty to Respond during This Age of Reconciliation,” Canadian Historical Review 30 September 2021. https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/abs/10.3138/chr-2020-0037

Innes, Robert Alexander, “Questions that Convey Indigenous Historical Perspectives (That Challenge How Canadians View Indigenous History,” 31 January, 2022. Centre for Human Rights Research, University of Manitoba Critical Conversations Seminar Series 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POGWI7tddd8

McSheffrey, Shannon, Chair, Chandra Pasma, Tina Chen, Crystal Fraser, Catherine Murton Stoehr, Ian Mosby, Stacey Zembrzycki, and John Lutz, “Precarious Historians, Diversity & Inclusion, and History Departments,” 16 September 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dQvlxnwn8w

Peace, Tom, Chair, Marie Battiste, Alan Corbiere and Sarah Nickel, “Indigenizing the Teaching of North American History”, Canadian Historical Association Webinar Series, 2 November 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gizn0x_ywyI

Peace, Tom, Chair and panelist, Sean Carlton, Natalie Cross, and Crystal Gail Fraser, “Examining the Historical Connections between Universities and Residential Schooling.”  27 October 2021, Posted 10 December on the Canadian Historical Association Indigenous History Facebook Group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1553402478261783

Perry, Adele, “Presidential Address.  Starting With Water: Canada, Colonialism, and History at 2019,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 30:1, 2019: 6-31.  Available at the CHA website: https://cha-shc.ca/_uploads/6220c3d66243a.pdf

Sims, Daniel, Chair, Brenda MacDougall, Mary Jane Logan McCallum and Allyson Stevenson, “‘I Come from a Long Line of Historians:’ Addressing ongoing racism and colonialism in scholarly spaces,”: Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting, 21 July, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baNuQaAj2ZM

Sims, Daniel, Chair, Cody Groat, Brenda MacDougall, Deb Lee, Crystal Fraser, Lianne Leddy, Paul Gareau and Molly Swain, “Indigenous Experiences and Decolonization,” Canadian Historical Association, 2 March 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa5qakMMyUk

Stevenson, Allyson, “Teaching Canadian History After the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples I and II, 2 and 9 March, 2020 Canadian Historical Association Website, https://cha-shc.ca/teaching/teachers-blog/teaching-canadian-history-after-the-united-nations-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples-undrip-i-2020-03-02.htm and https://cha-shc.ca/teaching/teachers-blog/teaching-canadian-history-after-the-united-nations-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples-undrip-ii-2020-03-09.htm

Canadian History, Historians and Commemoration 

Alexander, Kristine, and Mary Jane Logan McCallum. “A structural pandemic: on Statues, Colonial Violence, and the Importance of History.” Active History 2, 3 and 4 December 2020. https://activehistory.ca/2020/12/a-structural-pandemic-on-statues-colonial-violence-and-the-importance-of-history-part-i/

Eyford, Ryan, Chair, Dale Barbour, Karen Froman, Claire Lebrecque and Liliana Lopez. “Manitoba College 150 Panel.” 5 November 2021. https://uwcloud.uwinnipeg.ca/s/Hwn2kfLKg7Pb52q

Innes, Robert, Crystal Fraser and Omeasoo Wahpisiw.  Response to the “In Defence of Sir John A. Macdonald and His Legacy” with Jeramiah Rodriguez. CTV News 14 January 2021. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/john-a-macdonald-defenders-fear-admitting-canada-is-linked-to-white-supremacy-scholars-say-1.5266977?cache=emuosurrypzum%3FclipId%3D89950

James, Matt, Chair, Omeasoo Wahpasiw, Adele Perry, Ry Moran and Sean Carleton. “Contesting National Memory in Canada: The Role of the Right.” Europe Canada Network 22 July, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAo1jzIPcs4

Perry, Adele, Chair, Sherry Farrell Racette, Aimee Craft, Erin Millions and Katherena Vermette. “Manitoba 150 Disrupted.” University of Manitoba Centre for Human Rights Research 16 March 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plbntBPrgKA

Perry, Adele, Chair, Omeasoo Wapisiw, Laura Madokoro Melanie Newton and Sean Carlton. “Commemoration Matters: History, Human Rights and the Politics of Commemoration.” University of Manitoba Centre for Human Rights Research, 7 December 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_t6Mbdgrz-s

Wahpasiw, Omeasoo, Adele Perry and Sean Carleton. “Nostalgia and the Politics of Selective Remembering.” Active History 5 May, 2021. https://activehistory.ca/2021/05/nostalgia-and-the-politics-of-selective-remembering/

[1] Quote by Sarah Nickel in Jeet Heer and Sarah Nickel, “Mass Graves and Indigenous Resistance,” Interview on The Time of Monsters Podcast, 10 June, 2021.  https://jeetheer.substack.com/p/podcast-mass-graves-and-indigenous?r=bh54&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=twitter&s=r

[2] With thanks to Adele Perry for review.

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