Distinguished Indigenous Faculty Fellow, 2021-2022

Dale Turner

Dale Turner (Ph.D. Philosophy, McGill University, 1998) is Associate Professor in the FAS Department of Political Science and Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto.

His research interests include Indigenous politics, contemporary Indigenous intellectual culture, contemporary political theory, and the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is the author of This is not a peace pipe: towards a critical Indigenous philosophy (University of Toronto Press, 2006). Professor Turner publishes on Aboriginal rights in Canada and contemporary Indigenous intellectual culture. Recent articles focus on the role of Indigenous spirituality in contemporary Aboriginal politics. He is a citizen of the Temagami First Nation in northern Ontario from his father’s side of the family and a citizen of the United Kingdom on his mother’s side of the family.

During his fellowship year, he will be working on the first volume of a three-novel series, titled Vision, that follows the life of an Anishinaabe boy as he grows up to participate in his community’s century-long land claim against the Canadian government.

Project Title:

Vision  I - “A prolegomena to any future…”

Project Description: The first volume of the three-volume series begins with Allie, an Anishinaabe boy, who is being raised by his grandparents on an island on Lake Temagami, Ontario. As Allie grows up, his grandparents realize that he has a love and a gift for learning, whether it be Anishinaabe traditions or Western European philosophy and science. He ends up going to Cambridge University where he prepares for a life in academia, though he always feels a bit out of place when totally immersed in European intellectual culture. It is only when Allie returns to his community’s homelands, where he learns more about their impending land claim against the Canadian state, that he begins to see a path opening up before him. The clan mothers want him to use his skills to defend their case; however, Allie is not sure he’s capable of bearing that responsibility (or whether he wants to). The first volume draws from my own community’s experiences, but also is an opportunity, through encountering different forms of philosophical investigation (Indigenous and European), to ultimately revisit – and re-situate – the devastating (and unjust) Supreme Court decision of Ontario v Bear Island Foundation [1991]. The story is a form of counterfactual narrative that weaves a critique of Indigenous politics in Canada within a reflection on the nature of justice, a view that necessitates listening to Indigenous peoples in and on their own terms.