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Denis Jeffrey, Associate Professor

Jeffrey Denis

Associate Professor

Social Psychology Program

Department of Sociology

Area(s) of Interest:

Research Snaps


Research Interests

My research investigates the social processes that shape the well-being of historically marginalized communities and the strategies, alliances, policies and practices that can bring about more just and sustainable societies. I am currently engaged in three major projects:

1. Canada at the Crossroads is a forthcoming book about Indigenous-settler relations in Northwestern Ontario (Treaty 3 Territory). Based on 18 months of fieldwork, 160 in-depth interviews, and a photovoice project with Anishinaabe, Métis, and non-Indigenous residents, this book examines the sources of intergroup conflict and cooperation (“boundaries and bridges”) and the dynamics of racism and anti-racism in a contemporary small-town settler-colonial context. 

2. Pathways to Solidarity: Building on the above research, I am conducting life-history interviews with settler-Canadians who have participated in Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Idle No More events. My goal is to understand the experiences and conditions that lead to engagement in solidarity activities with Indigenous peoples. In other words, how do some settlers become “allies,” and how do they conceive of their roles in reconciliation and decolonization? 

3. Action Research on Social Determinants of Health: I am also a collaborator on two CIHR-funded projects concerned with poverty and health in Indigenous communities. The Poverty Action Research Project (PARP) involves working with five First Nation communities across Canada to develop poverty reduction and community development strategies and to monitor the long-term impacts on health and well-being. The Two-Eyed Seeing Project is a partnership with 13 Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia to document the causes and consequences of poverty and to support the development of a new, culturally appropriate social policy framework. More generally, I have an abiding interest in the social determinants of health and citizen participation in decision-making, sparked by earlier research on the transformation and closure of the Wellesley Hospital in Toronto.

Research Grants

2010-2017: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health, Aboriginal Health Intervention Research Grant ($2.5 million): “A Poverty Reduction Approach to Improving the Health and Well-Being of First Nation Communities,” Co-Investigator (PI: Dr. Frederic Wien, Dalhousie University, in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations)

2013-2016: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Open Operating Grant ($446,395): “Building a Social Policy Framework for the Health and Well-Being of Mi’kmaq Communities: A Two-Eyed Seeing Approach,” Co-Investigator (PI: Dr. Frederic Wien, Dalhousie University, in partnership with the Kwilmu'kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO))

2012-2014: McMaster University, Standard Research Grant, Arts Research Board ($7,000): “Pathways to Being an Ally: How Some Non-Indigenous Canadians Embrace Reconciliation” 

2009-2010: National Science Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant ($10,000): “Native and Non-Native Group Interactions”


Ph.D., Harvard University, 2011


Courses taught: Sociology 758 - Sociology of Race and Ethnicity; Sociology 4RR3 - Indigenous Peoples and Canada; Sociology 2RR3 - Case Studies of Social Inequality; Social Psychology 3D03 - Exploring Social Psychological Perspectives; Social Psychology 2YY3 - Perspectives and Theories in Social Psychology


Selected Publications


Davis, Lynne, Jeffrey S. Denis, and Raven Sinclair. Guest Editors. 2016. Special Issue of Settler Colonial Studies on “Pathways of Settler Decolonization.” [ ; published online in October 2016; print version forthcoming in May 2017]

Denis, Jeffrey S. 2015. “Contact Theory in a Small-Town Settler-Colonial Context: The Reproduction of Laissez-Faire Racism in Indigenous-White Canadian Relations.” American Sociological Review 80(1): 218-242.

Denis, Jeffrey S. 2012. “Transforming Meanings and Group Positions: Tactics and Framing in Anishinaabe-White Relations in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 35(3): 453-470.


Denis, Jeffrey S. 2016. Canada at the Crossroads: Boundaries, Bridges, and Laissez-Faire Racism in Indigenous-Settler Relations. [Under review] 

Goyette, David, Dennis William Magill, and Jeff Denis (Editors). 2006. Survival Strategies: The Life, Death, and Renaissance of a Canadian Teaching Hospital. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press. 


Denis, Jeffrey S., and Kerry Bailey. 2016. “‘You Can’t Have Reconciliation without Justice’: How Non-Indigenous Participants in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Process Understand their Roles and Goals.” Pp. 137-158 in The Limits of Settler Colonial Reconciliation: Non-Indigenous People and the Responsibility to Engage, edited by Sarah Maddison, Tom Clark, and Ravi de Costa. Singapore: Springer.

Denis, Jeffrey S. 2016. "Sociology of Indigenous Peoples in Canada." Online supplement to New Society, 8th edition, edited by Robert J. Brym. Toronto: Nelson.

Denis, Jeffrey S. 2015. "A Four Directions Model: Understanding the Rise and Resonance of an Indigenous Self-Determination Movement.” Pp. 208-228 in More Will Sing their Way to Freedom: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence, edited by Elaine Coburn. Halifax: Fernwood Press.

Denis, Jeffrey S. 2014. "Why Idle No More Is Gaining Strength, and Why All Canadians Should Care." Pp. 217-219 in The Winter We Danced: Voices from the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement, edited by The Kino-nda-niimi Collective. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing. [Reprint from Toronto Star, Opinion/Editorial, December 20, 2012]

Denis, Jeffrey S. 2011. “Bridging Understandings: Anishinaabe and White Perspectives on the Residential School Apology and Prospects for Reconciliation.” Pp. 257-262 in Reading Sociology: Canadian Perspectives, 2nd edition, edited by Lorne Tepperman and Angela Kalyta. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.


Denis, Jeff. 2016. “From Reconciliation to Decolonization: How Settlers Engage in Solidarity Activism.” Pp. 151-153 in Wrongs to Rights: How Churches Can Engage the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, edited by Steve Heinrichs. Winnipeg, MB: Mennonite Central Committee.

Clair, Matthew, and Jeffrey S. Denis. 2015. “Sociology of Racism.” Pp. 857-863 in International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, edited by James D. Wright. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Denis, Jeffrey S. 2013. “Book Review: Us, Them, and Others, and the Missing Cornerstone of Colonization.” Journal of International Migration and Integration 16(2): 431-436.