Book cover of Grounded Authority

Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State

Winner, 2017 Canadian Studies Network Book PrizeWinner, 2018 WSPA Clay Morgan Award for Best Book in Environmental Political TheoryHonourable Mention, 2018 Association & Anthropology, Legal Studies Association Book PrizeHonourable Mention, 2018 Charles Taylor Book Award, American Political Science Association

Published by University of Minnesota Press, 2017


A rare, in-depth critique of federal land claims policy in Canada.

Since Justin Trudeau's election in 2015, Canada has been hailed internationally as embarking on a truly progressive, post-postcolonial era-including an improved relationship between the state and its Indigenous peoples. Shiri Pasternak corrects this misconception, showing that colonialism is very much alive in Canada. From the perspective of Indigenous law and jurisdiction, she tells the story of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, in western Quebec, and their tireless resistance to federal land claims policy. Grounded Authority chronicles the band's ongoing attempts to restore full governance over its lands and natural resources through an agreement signed by settler governments almost three decades ago-an agreement the state refuses to fully implement. Pasternak argues that the state's aversion to recognizing Algonquin jurisdiction stems from its goal of perfecting its sovereignty by replacing the inherent jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples with its own, delegated authority. From police brutality and fabricated sexual abuse cases to an intervention into and overthrow of a customary government, Pasternak provides a compelling, richly detailed account of rarely documented coercive mechanisms employed to force Indigenous communities into compliance with federal policy. A rigorous account of the incredible struggle fought by the Algonquins to maintain responsibility over their territory, Grounded Authority provides a powerful alternative model to one nation's land claims policy and a vital contribution to current debates in the study of colonialism and Indigenous peoples in North America and globally.

Book cover of Disarm, Defund, Dismantle

Disarm, Defund, Dismantle: Police Abolition in Canada

Published by Between the Lines Press, 2022
Eds. Shiri Pasternak, Kevin Walby and Abby Stadnyk


Canadian laws are just, the police uphold the rule of law and treat everyone equally, and without the police, communities would descend into chaos and disorder. These entrenched myths, rooted in settler-colonial logic, work to obscure a hard truth: the police do not keep us safe. This edited collection brings together writing from a range of activists and scholars, whose words are rooted in experience and solidarity with those putting their lives on the line to fight for police abolition in Canada. Together, they imagine a different world—one in which police power is eroded and dissolved forever, one in which it is possible to respond to distress and harm with assistance and care.

Praise for the Book:

“Both a powerful indictment of a criminal legal system that was never meant to protect us and a vision for safety rooted in empowerment, care, and solidarity.”
– Alex S. Vitale, author of The End of Policing

“The essays collected here clearly demonstrate how abolition as a political project requires we pay attention to our local scenes, because carceral practices are configured for their specific geo-political impact. These essays bring Canada forcefully into the international debate, conversation, scholarship, and activism on abolition politics today.”
– Rinaldo Walcott, author of On Property: Policing, Prisons, and the Call for Abolition

“All across the globe, poor communities are struggling against police power and for something radically different, but most abolitionist literature remains US-centric. Disarm, Defund, Dismantle corrects this deficit by fusing abolition to decolonization, bringing together the diagnosis, strategy, and on-the-ground experiences needed to dismantle Canada’s settler-police state.”
– Geo Maher, author of A World Without Police: How Strong Communities Make Cops Obsolete