Lawrence, Bonita 1955-
Lawrence, Bonita 1955-
Born June 26, 1955, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; daughter of Thomas (a butcher) and Eveline Marie Anida (a department store detective) Lawrence. Ethnicity: "Mi'kmaq/Acadian/English." Education: University of Toronto, B.Sc., 1990, Ph.D., 1999; York University, M.E.S., 1994. Hobbies and other interests: Motorcycling.
Office—Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, School of Social Sciences, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, assistant professor of women's studies, 1999-2004, also teacher of traditional singing at Four Directions Aboriginal Students' Centre, and organizer of monthly Native women's ceremonies; York University, Toronto, Ontario, associate professor of Native studies and anti-racism, 2004—. Katorakwi Native Friendship Centre, member of board of directors, 2002-03; Anduhyaun, Inc., member of board of directors, 1996-2005, and past president; Community Council of Aboriginal Legal Services, member, 2005—. Traditional singer as member of women's hand drum groups, including Women of the Four Directions, 1997-1999, and Voices of Our Grandmothers, 2002—; performer at prisons and at Pathways to Freedom Program, Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, Detroit, MI. Formerly worked in factories and as a waitress and secretary.
(Editor, with Kim Anderson) Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival, Sumach Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
"Real" Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2004.
Contributor to books, including A Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood, by Kim Anderson, Sumach Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000; Expressions in Canadian Native Studies, University of Saskatchewan Extension Press (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), 2000; and Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, edited by Sherene Razack, Sumach Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002. Contributor to periodicals, including Hypatia: Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Atlantic, Women and Environments, and Social Justice: Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order.
Bonita Lawrence told CA: "While I have tried my hand at poetry and other creative writing, at present my publications are all scholarly. Because I write about Aboriginal realities, my work does not fit disciplinary boundaries, and what I write is shaped by a passionate awareness and sense of responsibility to the communities where I do research. I write for the community rather than for other academics; my work is therefore written in a style to be accessible, rather than filled with academic jargon.
"I come from a family of five children, raised by my mother and my oldest sister. While my first publication addressed early life experiences with domestic violence, poverty, substance abuse, and alienation, the primary inspiration for my doctoral thesis, which became my first book, was my mother. The ways in which Native identity has been shaped by government regulations (which exclude mixed-bloods) created a legacy of landlessness, diaspora, and loss for my mother's generation. Growing up off-reserve and landless, with Mi'kmaq and Acadian parents, my mother and ten of her siblings all left the Maritimes and scattered across North America. The only sibling who remained did so because he was in prison. The confusion over Native identity that this created, in my mother's generation and in mine, led to an exploration of the identity legislation in Canada, which removes Indian status from women who marry non-Indians, and the complex identities of Native people who are urban and mixed-blood.
"These concerns over Native identity have led to my current research, with Native communities left out of treaties and therefore not federally recognized as Indian in Canada: the Mi'kmaq of western Newfoundland and the Algonquins of eastern Ontario. Lately I have become interested in the tremendous over-representation of Native people in prisons in Canada (forty percent of all prisoners are Native, in a country with approximately five percent Native population), and this is the direction my research is moving in."