Unsettling the Settler Within
316 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:25 Jan 2011
Release Date:01 Jan 2011
Release Date:22 Dec 2010

Unsettling the Settler Within

Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada

UBC Press

In 2008 the Canadian government apologized to the victims of the notorious Indian residential school system, and established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose goal was to mend the deep rifts between Aboriginal peoples and the settler society that engineered the system.

In Unsettling the Settler Within, Paulette Regan, a former residential-schools-claims manager, argues that in order to truly participate in the transformative possibilities of reconciliation, non-Aboriginal Canadians must undergo their own process of decolonization. They must relinquish the persistent myth of themselves as peacemakers and acknowledge the destructive legacy of a society that has stubbornly ignored and devalued Indigenous experience. With former students offering their stories as part of the truth and reconciliation processes, Regan advocates for an ethos that learns from the past, making space for an Indigenous historical counter-narrative to avoid perpetuating a colonial relationship between Aboriginal and settler peoples.

A powerful and compassionate call to action, Unsettling the Settler Within inspires with its thoughtful and personal account of Regan’s own journey, and offers all Canadians – Indigenous and non-Indigenous policymakers, politicians, teachers, and students – a new way of approaching the critical task of healing the wounds left by the residential school system.

A compassionate and powerful book that will appeal to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal policymakers, politicians, educators, students, and any Canadian with an interest in building a future that both acknowledges and learns from the failures of the past.


  • 2012, Shortlisted - Canada Prize in Social Sciences, Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Seeking to navigate the complex terrain of reconciliation in Canada, Regan’s text is an important contribution to settler studies in Canada … Her ability to fuse literatures from the burgeoning field of settler studies and anticolonial scholarship is impressive. Robyn Green, Carleton University, Great Plains Research, Vol. 22 No. 2, Fall 2012
Regan weaves together her own profoundly personal experiences in Indigenous communities with wider historical study and narrative analysis … most compelling. Adam J. Barker, University of Leicester, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Vol. 13 No. 3, Winter 2012
This book is significant not only as it concerns relations between indigenous peoples and Canadians; it will be of interest to those working in multicultural settings of many kinds where power imbalances have affected relations. Paulette Regan manages to combine scholarly discourse with personal accounts in ways that buttress its credibility and make it a must-read for anyone interested in reconciliation between peoples. L. Michelle LeBaron, Professor of Law and Director, UBC Program on Dispute Resolution
Paulette Regan is the director of research for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. She holds a PhD from the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria.

Foreword by Taiaiake Alfred


Introduction: A Settler’s Call to Action

1 An Unsettling Pedagogy of History and Hope

2 Rethinking Reconciliation: Truth Telling, Restorying History, Commemoration

3 Deconstructing Canada’s Peacemaker Myth

4 The Alternative Dispute Resolution Program: Reconciliation as Regifting

5 Indigenous Diplomats: Counter-Narratives of Peacemaking

6 The Power of Apology and Testimony: Settlers as Ethical Witnesses

7 An Apology Feast in Hazelton: A Settler’s “Unsettling”

8 Peace Warriors and Settler Allies


Selected Bibliography


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