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Damien Lee

Dr. Damien Lee

Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair in Biskaabiiyang and Indigenous Political Resurgence
EducationBA (Trent University, Indigenous Studies), MA (University of Victoria, Indigenous Governance), PhD (University of Manitoba, Indigenous Studies)
Phone416-979-5000 x556212

Dr. Damien Lee is a member of Fort William First Nation and a citizen of the Anishinaabe nation. He was adopted into his rez as a baby and raised as Anishinaabe by his family.

Areas of Expertise:

Indigenous political orders; Indigenous legal orders; First Nations’ constructions of band membership and citizenship; community-driven political mobilization; Indigenist theory; Indigenous research methodologies (e.g. biskaabiiyang); decolonization & resurgence


Dr. Lee’s Canada Research Chair (external link, opens in new window)  (CRC) focuses primarily on the practical ways in which Anishinaabe communities are rebuilding their inherent political and legal orders, particularly as they intentionally move away from settler colonial legislation such as the Indian Act. While it is one thing to commit to moving away from such legislation, navigating the day-to-day decisions on how to restrengthen Anishinaabe governance systems can be much more complex. It is true that colonization has destroyed some aspects of Indigenous life, but it has done a far better job at convincing us that Anishinaabe political orders are not valid, that they are not useful, or that they simply never existed. Biskaabiiyang flips this narrative on its head: meaning “returning to ourselves,” biskaabiiyang to me is a process of finding those pieces of political knowledge left by the trail, piecing them back together, and creating new pieces when needed. Dr. Lee uses the biskaabiiyang approach when working with Anishinaabe communities to ensure that research goals and findings serve community-driven needs and aspirations. Beyond his CRC work, Dr. Lee is considered an expert on First Nation band membership issues; he has also published on colonial entanglements within the Canadian civil society sector.

Website: (external link, opens in new window) 


Graduate Program Membership:

  • Environmental Applied Science and Management
  • Public Policy & Administration (MA)
  • Policy Studies (PhD)

Community & Professional Service:

Recent & Selected Publications:

D. Lee. 2023. “Remaining Unreconciled: Philanthropy and Indigenous Governance in Canada.” aboriginal policy studies 10 (external link, opens in new window) , no. 2: 3–32.

D. Lee and K. Horn-Miller. 2022. “Between Membership & Belonging: Life Under Section 10 of the Indian Act.” Special Report. (external link, opens in new window)  Toronto: Yellowhead Institute.

Pasternak, S. and D. Lee. 2021. "The Welfare & Well-Being of Indigenous Peoples" in Social Welfare in Canada, 4th ed. (external link, opens in new window)  (pp. 300-343), by S. Hick and J. Stokes. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing.

Lee, D. 2021. Happy New Year To Everyone But Non-Status Kids: Jordan’s Principle & Canada’s Persistent Discrimination (external link, opens in new window)  (Policy Brief, Issue 84). Toronto: Yellowhead Institute.

Lee, D. and G. King. 2020. Re-Affirming Indigenous Citizenships: Two Spirit Family-Making and the Future of Belonging (external link, opens in new window)  (Policy Brief, Issue 54). Toronto: Yellowhead Institute.

King, G. and D. Lee. 2019. Right(s) Where We Belong: Urban Perspectives on Indian Registration, Band Membership and First Nations Citizenship. A research paper prepared for the National Association of Friendship Centres.

Lee, D. 2019. Responses to Section 10: A Review of Band Membership Challenges in Canada. A paper submitted to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Collaborative Process: Defining Our Nations Consultations on Indian Registration, Band Membership, and First Nation Citizenship.

Lee, D. 2019. Adoption Constitutionalism: Anishinaabe Citizenship Law at Fort William First Nation (external link, opens in new window) . Alberta Law Review 56: 785-816.

Lee, D. and K. Horn-Miller. 2018. Wild Card: Making Sense of Adoption and Indigenous Citizenship Orders in Settler Colonial Contexts (external link, opens in new window) . AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples 14(4): 293-299.

Lee, D. 2018. A Brief Assessment of Canada’s Collaborative Process On Indian Registration, Band Membership And First Nation Citizenship (external link, opens in new window)  (Policy Brief 08). Toronto: Yellowhead Institute.

Lee, D. 2016. Review of Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg, by Jill Doerfler. Canadian Journal of Native Studies XXXVI(1): 238-240.

Lee, D. 2015. Adoption is (Not) a Dirty Word: Towards an Adoption-Centric Theory of Anishinaabeg Citizenship. (external link, opens in new window)  Native Peoples Child & Family Review 10(1): 86-98. 

Lee, D. 2013. “In the Shoes of the Other: Reclaiming Indigenous Authenticity from Colonial Logics of Difference” in Critical Inquiries: A Reader in Studies of Canada (external link, opens in new window)  (pp. 144-161), edited by L. Caldwell, C. Leung and D. Leroux. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 

Lee, D. 2011. “Windigo Faces: Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations Serving Canadian Colonialism.” Canadian Journal of Native Studies 31(2): 133-153.