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Canada at a Crossroads: Boundaries Bridges, and Laissez-Faire Racism in Indigenous-Settler Relations

McMaster professor wins top Canadian Sociology Award

Jeffrey Denis, Associate Professor of Sociology, has won this year’s John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award from the Canadian Sociological Association.

Jun 18, 2021

Jeffrey Denis, Associate Professor of Sociology, has won this year’s John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award from the Canadian Sociological Association. He received the prestigious award for his book, Canada at a Crossroads: Boundaries Bridges, and Laissez-Faire Racism in Indigenous-Settler Relations.

Each year, the Canadian Sociological Association acknowledges the most outstanding book-length contribution to sociological knowledge of Canada, in the ‘John Porter Tradition’. Porter is widely considered to be one of the most prominent Canadian sociologists of the 20th century. His work contributed significantly to the advancement of the practice of sociology in Canada.

To be considered for the award, literary works selected must satisfy a comprehensive list of criteria which includes relevance to at least one major issue of Canadian society.

“It’s an amazing honour to win this award after so many years of hard work. I must share the honour with Treaty 3 residents who trusted me with their stories, experiences, and ideas. This book never would have happened without their knowledge and support,” said Denis. “I hope the book deepens understanding of the boundaries and bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and helps identify pathways towards decolonization and (re)conciliation.”

Canada at a Crossroads: Boundaries Bridges, and Laissez-Faire Racism in Indigenous-Settler Relations illustrates how contemporary Indigenous and settler residents think about and relate to one another. Denis also highlights how, despite often having close cross-group relationships, residents maintain conflicting perspectives on critical issues such as land, culture, and history. He also assesses shortcomings of commonly proposed solutions, concluding that genuine (re)conciliation will require that Canadian society be radically restructured.

Denis is only the second academic in the Department of Sociology to win this award. Tina Fetner, Professor and Chair, Sociology explained the significance of this accomplishment.

"This is a very impressive accolade, given to only one book in all of Canadian sociology. This book, which examines how white settler communities hang onto their racist attitudes, despite living and working alongside Indigenous communities, offers important insights into the enduring challenges for ending racism in Canada. This is a very important contribution to our knowledge, and I’m so happy that Dr. Denis’s work has been recognized in this way.”