Across the Barricades: Non-Indigenous Mobilization and Settler Colonialism in Canada

Michael Morden


Recently, a new body of scholarship on “settler colonialism” has emerged with the goal to analyze the non-Native dimension of Indigenous-settler relations, in Canada and other settler states. This paper will identify two shortcomings of the new literature: first, a tendency to conflate mass-level non-Natives with the state itself; and second, an erroneous, primordial presentation of non-Native norms and identity. The paper examines two case studies of settler political mobilization in opposition to Indigenous peoples, in the contexts of the Indigenous occupations at Ipperwash/Aazhoodena in the early- to mid-1990s, and Caledonia/Kanonhstaton in 2006. The cases reveal consistency in how the mobilization is framed by non-Native participants – as a defense of abstract procedural principles like equality before the law and public order. This normative framework does not resonate with settler colonial theory. They also illustrate the degree to which mass-level non-Natives are autonomous actors in the relationship. During both conflicts, local non-Natives often advanced divergent interests from those of the state, producing a tripartite political dynamic that is not anticipated in the literature.


Aboriginal; Settler; Settler Colonialism; Canada; Indigenous; Mobilization

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125