Tag Archives: education

Talking Back to the Indian Act

Talking Back to the Indian Act: Critical Readings in Settler Colonial Histories is a comprehensive “how-to” guide for engaging with primary source documents. But more than that, the book explores the Indian Act itself, and gives readers a much better understanding of this vital piece of legislation. We asked authors Mary-Ellen Kelm and Keith D. Smith to discuss their book, and why learning this information and history is important.

You can read an exclusive excerpt from the book here.

“We find the Indian Act of 1876 are [sic] not calculated to promote our welfare if we accept it because it empowers the Superintendent General of Indian affairs to manage, govern, and control our lands, moneys, and properties without first obtaining the consent of the chiefs…”

Talking Back to the Indian Act: Critical Readings in Settler Colonial Histories is being published at a key moment in our history. Not only do we live in an age of twenty-four-hour news outlets broadcasting sharply divergent and politically motivated narratives, and where the nature of evidence is questioned in overtly public ways – we are also poised to begin a process of reconciling with Indigenous people in this country. Talking Back addresses both these critical issues.

The book provides a set of lessons in reading documents through a historical and critical lens that takes into account Indigenous and intersectional perspectives. In so doing, it demonstrates the historians’ craft as it can be reconceived so that alongside context, contingency, causation, change over time, and complexity (the five “Cs” of historical thinking), we also consider relationship, responsibility, respect, and reciprocity (the four “Rs” of Indigenous methodologies). It shows the value of thinking deeply about the role in historical experience played by gender, sexuality, ability, and other ways of being. As such, it introduces readers to an expansive approach to critically engaging with the written word that addresses key questions about the nature of evidence, how it is made, and how it can be used. Readers of Talking Back to the Indian Act will never again feel that they lack the tools to truly interrogate historical or other documents.

At the same time, Talking Back to the Indian Act introduces the reader to one of the most important pieces of legislation in Canadian history and – sadly – one that many Canadians know very little about. For nearly a century and a half, the Indian Act has dominated the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples living within its borders. As it sought to erase individual and collective identities, the Indian Act operated to extinguish Indigenous political structures, regulate familial relationships and gender roles, degrade kinship networks, circumscribe economic undertakings, reduce the land base available to Indigenous communities, and prohibit practices central to the maintenance of Indigenous cultures. Even those Indigenous people who Canada did not choose to classify as “Indian” have been impacted by the Act as they struggled to assert their own distinct identities and legal rights.

The provisions of the Indian Act, the surveillance required for its maintenance, and Indigenous responses to its intentions and effects have created a massive archive. It is from this prodigious body of material that Talking Back to the Indian Act draws the documents it uses to teach critical historical reading methods. Included here are: the original 1876 Act and the many amendments made to it, queries and clarifications from Canadian officials, law enforcement documents, legal opinions, court records, and reports from various commissions and inquiries. Importantly, here too are Indigenous people’s letters of protest, oral testimony, meeting transcripts of Indigenous organizations and inquiries, radio addresses, and creative works all talking back to the Indian Act from Indigenous perspectives. Readers who may have heard very little about the Indian Act will come away from this text with a better understanding of how the Act worked to constrain Indigenous lives and how Indigenous people persistently worked to overcome those constraints.

Talking Back to the Indian Act provides a set of lessons that shine light on several critical aspects of the Act and Indigenous responses to them in historical context. It encourages students to move beyond simply reading historical documents and to engage with them in more refined and effective ways. To that end, readers of this text are given an introduction to the interpretative tools traditionally available to historians and how these might be utilized in concert with Indigenous methodologies and intersectional analyses. Students will come away from this book with a much better understanding of this pivotal piece of legislation as well as the dynamics involved in its creation, its maintenance, and the resistance it engendered.

Talking Back to the Indian Act is not a definitive study of the Indian Act but includes a range of important topics that resonate across time and into the present. Each of these topics has stimulated an intriguing array of voices and document types available to researchers. This range of material has allowed the documents provided in this collection to be selected with variety of source type and perspective in mind. Readers will have the opportunity to not only interrogate individual letters, transcripts of oral accounts and testimony, official reports, reminiscences, legislation, creative writing, and other materials but also to consider the relative value of different kinds of sources to different sorts of projects that a researcher might undertake. In addition to the focus on issues that are significant in their own right, there are also a number of overarching themes represented here. For example, Canada’s goals of acquiring land and resources and assimilating Indigenous people are evident throughout this text, as is Indigenous resistance in its many forms.

Exploring the contours and development of the Indian Act through the documents provided in this text will help students in all disciplines – as well as popular audiences – navigate the headlines of today. It is our hope that Talking Back to the Indian Act makes a contribution to historical understanding while at the same time enhancing the skills necessary to analyse our present situation and the most appropriate paths to the future.

Mary-Ellen Kelm is Canada Research Chair and Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University, and Keith D. Smith teaches in the Departments of Indigenous Studies and History at Vancouver Island University.

Recommended Reading for Back to School

With the start of the new school year, we thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight some of our new education titles. We’ve picked out five titles for you to have a look at.

Staying Human during Residency Training: How to Survive and Thrive After Medical School

By Allan D. Peterkin

The ultimate survival guide for medical students, interns, residents, and fellows, Staying Human during Residency Training provides time-tested advice and the latest information on every aspect of a resident’s life – from choosing a residency program, to coping with stress, enhancing self-care, and protecting personal and professional relationships.

Allan D. Peterkin, MD provides hundreds of tips on how to cope with sleep deprivation, time pressures, and ethical and legal issues. This sixth edition is not only updated to reflect the latest research and resources, but also features new material on the latest issues in residency training, including social media use, patient-centered care, the medical humanities, and the “hidden curriculum” of residency.

Acknowledged by thousands of doctors across North America as an invaluable resource, Staying Human during Residency Training has helped to shape notions of trainee well-being for medical educators worldwide. Offering wise, compassionate, and professional counsel, this edition again shows why it is required reading for medical students and new physicians pursuing postgraduate training.

“This guide should be required reading for each intern beginning residency and also for each and every residency program director in North America.”

Aliye Runyan, Medical Education Team Chair, American Medical Student Association, and Sonia Lazreg, AMSA/Committee of Interns and Residents Health Justice Fellow

Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD

By Loleen Berdahl and Jonathan Malloy

Work Your Career offers practical advice to PhD students in Canada on how best to position themselves for a successful career. The book looks at both academic and non-academic career options for graduate students, and how to prepare concurrently for each.

The authors carefully recognize that every student brings unique skills, values, and aspirations and that a career path in academia might not be the sole option for students. Drawing on their own personal careers and experience, Berdahl and Malloy provide motivations and strategies for students and provide answers to the questions that many PhD students have. Work Your Career is in essence a mentoring program for students and is full of practical advice on how to be best prepared for a successful career.

A must read for any graduate student in Canada!

The Craft of University Teaching

By Peter Lindsay

Intended for professors of all academic disciplines who either enjoy teaching or wish to enjoy it more, the soon to-be-released The Craft of University Teaching is a provocative and accessible book containing practical advice gleaned from the academic literature on pedagogy.

In an era of increased bureaucratic oversight, rapidly diminishing budgets, and waves of technological distraction, The Craft of University Teaching provokes reflection on matters of pedagogy that are too often taken as settled. In so doing, it seeks to reclaim teaching as the intellectually vibrant and intrinsically rewarding endeavor that it is.

“Peter Lindsay has produced an energetic study of the craft of teaching. His lively treatment will resonate with anyone who has stood in front of a classroom. He rescues the topic from both formula-seekers and those who think good teaching can’t be taught. The result is a stimulating practicum delivered by a bona fide maestro.”

Peter T. Struck, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania

Kickstarting Your Academic Career: Skills to Succeed in the Social Sciences

By Robert L. Ostergard, Jr. and Stacy B. Fisher

Kickstarting Your Academic Career is a primer on the common scholastic demands that social sciences students face upon entering college or university. Based on the challenges that instructors most often find students need help with, the authors offer practical advice and tips on topics such as how to communicate with instructors, take notes, read a textbook, research and write papers, and write successful exams. The succinct writing and clear organization make this an essential reference for first-year students as they encounter post-secondary work for the first time, and a useful refresher for upper-year students looking to refine their skills.

“I would recommend Kickstarting Your Academic Career to every college student because they can benefit from the advice given in the book. It establishes what mindset you need and what tools you can utilize in order to be as successful as you can throughout your schooling. It is also written in a clear, concise manner that any student can understand regardless of their reading comprehensive skills.”

Lauren Bullock, Sophomore at Stephen F. Austin State University

The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy

By Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber

If there is one sector of society that should be cultivating deep thought in itself and others, it is academia. Yet the corporatisation of the contemporary university has sped up the clock, demanding increased speed and efficiency from faculty regardless of the consequences for education and scholarship.

In The Slow Professor, Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber discuss how adopting the principles of the slow movement in academic life can counter this erosion of humanistic education. Focusing on the individual faculty member and his or her own professional practice, Berg and Seeber present both an analysis of the culture of speed in the academy and ways of alleviating stress while improving teaching, research, and collegiality. The Slow Professor will be a must-read for anyone in academia concerned about the frantic pace of contemporary university life.

An excerpt from ‘Homophobia in the Hallways’ by Tonya D. Callaghan

On a cold day in March 2011, an inconspicuous, unremarkable group of students at St Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, did something remarkable, something that, in their school – indeed in Catholic schools across Canada at the time – was unthinkable. They requested permission to establish a club, a Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) club in their school. To the unenlightened eye, their action appeared small, routine even. It was a logical request for an in-school club whose focus would be to make the school a safe space for lgbtq students and their straight allies by raising awareness about, and so hopefully reducing, school-based homophobia. It was not even an original idea; GSAs had originated in the United States almost 25 years before. Unbeknown to these students, they would soon be taking on a significant battle for Canadian LGBTQ rights. Their actions set off a series of events that would reverberate across the country.

The students quickly learned that St Joseph’s school was not ready for such a club. A maelstrom ensued. The students, led by 16-year-old Leanne Iskander, encountered strong opposition first from their principal and then from administrators at the district level. By June, they remained in a standoff. The students vowed to continue their fight in the next school term.

The establishment of a GSA in a secular Canadian public school barely seems an issue worth noting, judging by the lack of media stories about such attempts. There is, in fact, no formal mechanism in place to ban GSA clubs in non-religious public schools. Starting a GSA club in a secular public school has often, though not always, proved no more controversial than setting up an anti-racism or debate club. Students who join a GSA in a non-religious school have the right to broadcast their club meeting schedule over the school’s public address system, actively solicit other students for their club using posters and other means, meet on school property, and name their club a GSA without any concern over the use of the word gay. Note that publicly funded separate Catholic schools are accountable to civil, not church, authorities. Religious bodies do not have a constitutional or legal interest in separate schools, and, as such, Canadian Catholic separate schools are not private or parochial schools as many are in other countries.

In Canadian Catholic schools, such as St Joseph Secondary School in Mississauga, however – a publicly funded school, I must emphasize – Leanne Iskander and friends’ request to establish such a club was rejected outright more than once and caused serious alarm, not only for the administrators of St Joseph’s but also for its school district, the Ontario bishops, and the Ontario provincial government.

The increasingly public battle between this particular group of students in St Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School and their Catholic school administrators is significant because it represents the growing discontent between publicly funded Canadian Catholic schools and Canadian society at large. In Canada, same-sex legal rights have been steadily advancing – in 2005 Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize marriage equality nationwide (Rayside, 2008) – and Canadian gay Pride parades regularly attract millions of tourist dollars. In the publicly funded Canadian Catholic school system, however, advances in same-sex legal rights have been virtually non-existent. When trying to determine how to manage the existence of lgbtq people (students, teachers, aids, and support staff included) in Canadian Catholic schools, Catholic education leaders turn to Catholic doctrine rather than to their legal authority – Canadian human rights law. Catholic doctrine describes “homosexual acts” as “acts of grave depravity” that are “intrinsically disordered” and count among the list of “sins gravely contrary to chastity” (cited in Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops [OCCB], 2004a, p. 53). Needless to say, relying on Catholic doctrine as a guide for curricular and policy decisions makes Canadian Catholic schools hotbeds for homophobia.

The Story Behind Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD

In the lead-up to this year’s Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, where authors Loleen Berdahl and Jonathan Malloy will be leading a Career Corner for graduate students, we are pleased to present some background information on their new book, Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD. Pick up your copy at Congress or order it online today!

Jonathan Malloy, Professor and Chair, Political Science, Carleton University

The issue of career paths for PhD students has received increasing attention in recent years. As someone who has been engaged on this topic since the 1990s, I am excited to see this conversation moving forward and to add my voice to them with a new book, Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD (University of Toronto Press, 2018). In this short and accessible volume, my co-author Loleen Berdahl and I offer practical advice to on how to navigate a social sciences or humanities doctoral program in Canada to lead to career success. It is both about doing a PhD and what to do with a PhD—and thinking about both from the start. One of the things that makes our book distinct is that we strongly advocate a seamless approach to PhD career development that does not require having to decide between “academic” and “non-academic” tracks.

We developed this approach based on our own personal experiences. While we only met in 2014, both of us pursued PhDs in the 1990s being open to the idea of non-academic careers and taking a proactive approach to publishing, networking, and overall career development. After finishing her PhD, Loleen worked outside academia in a public policy role, a career path she greatly enjoyed. For my part, as a PhD student I worked in government briefly and began to write materials for doctoral student audiences, authoring a guide for incoming students in my program and an essay for The Bulletin (the now-defunct official University of Toronto newspaper) on the need for more work and attention to non-academic jobs for PhDs.

I ended up in a position as a faculty member in a department with a large PhD program. Every year, I saw new waves of PhD students constantly struggling with the same issues over and over—not just about academic careers, but every aspect of their programs. I also realized that the mentality I had developed back in my own PhD years gave me a broad perspective and a lot of tacit and relevant knowledge that could be passed on. A particular moment for sharing this knowledge was in 2010, when “rumour blogs” became popular among many PhD students and junior academics, including some devoted specifically to Canadian political science (my discipline). These unmoderated bulletin boards responded to the genuine need and desire for career information and guidance in the sprawling and often opaque world of academia, but were ugly and disreputable—aggressive, often sexist, and defamatory. I decided to counteract this by creating my own blog, “Advice and Discussion about Canadian Polisci Jobs,” and for a year made weekly posts of career advice for Canadian political science PhD students and junior academics. The blog was well-visited and attracted commentary and discussion. I eventually ran out of fresh things to say every week, but the blog stayed up for years and continued to attract visitors.

Loleen was mostly out of the academic world for ten years and while her work connected her to other PhDs working in a variety of non-academic environments, she was not actively engaged in doctoral career mentorship issues. But she later returned to academia with her position at the University of Saskatchewan, and in 2014 we were both elected to the board of the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) and met for the first time. After discovering our shared mentality and approach to PhD education and job opportunities, I sent Loleen a link to the blog. Loleen has a strong applied background in knowledge mobilization, and saw the potential for the blog to be expanded and updated to help promote much-needed discussion on the issue. She suggested it could be the foundation of a book, an option I had not previously considered. The idea for Work Your Career came together easily at that point, and Mat Buntin at University of Toronto Press was instantly receptive and supportive.

Our engagement on this topic goes beyond the book to include research and outreach initiatives on career mentoring and development. Of particular note are our conference workshops for PhD students and recent graduates, doctoral supervisors, and interested faculty. After two decades of thinking about PhD education and academic mentoring, I find it encouraging to see a growing number of students and faculty looking at opportunities for doctoral students to prepare for multiple career paths. We will be discussing these ideas further at our Career Corner session at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences on Wednesday, May 30, and welcome all Congress participants interested in PhD careers to attend.

Doctoral students, individual faculty, academic disciplines, and universities are paying growing attention to the career training and futures of Canada’s social sciences and humanities PhD students and graduates. I am happy to have Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD as part of the larger discussion.

Jonathan Malloy is Professor at Carleton University.

University of Toronto Press Moves Offices to Accommodate New Book Publishing Division


TORONTO – Canada’s largest scholarly publisher, University of Toronto Press (UTP), has outgrown the office it has called home for the past thirty years. On Monday, April 16, UTP’s book publishing staff from editorial, sales, marketing, design and production, as well as its human resources and administrative teams will settle into a brand new, state-of-the-art office space at the corner of Bay and College, in downtown Toronto.

The move is part of a re-structuring for UTP’s much lauded publishing program. After a decade of operating on parallel paths, and in separate cities, the company’s Scholarly Publishing and Higher Education divisions are coming together under one roof. Moving forward, these two groups will join forces and resources as part of UTP’s Book Publishing Division.

“Our new office is symbolic of the confidence we have in the future of scholarly publishing and in UTP itself,” says UTP’s Chief Executive Officer, John Yates.  “Consolidating the book publishing teams will make us more nimble and puts us in a better position to respond to the needs of our authors and customers, both at home and around the world.”

The company’s spacious new location boasts an open-concept design, natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows and cutting-edge technologies. All of the workstations and panels are constructed from recycled materials, which represents more than an aesthetic consideration, according to Lynn Fisher, UTP’s Vice President, Book Publishing.

“Being environmentally responsible is a corporate priority for us as a book publisher,” says Fisher. “Over the past few years, UTP has become widely seen as a major platform for new work in urban planning and environmental studies. That’s another reason we’d be remiss to not build a ‘healthier’ work space.”  

UTP’s Book Publishing Division will be located at 800 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3A9. Phone numbers and email addresses are unchanged. Contact information for the company’s Journals, Retail and Distribution divisions remains the same.

Founded in 1901, University of Toronto Press (UTP) is Canada’s leading scholarly publisher and one of the largest university presses in North America, releasing over 200 new scholarly, reference, and general-interest books each year, as well as maintaining a backlist of over 3500 titles in print. For more information, visit utorontopress.com.