Accounting for Genocide: Canada's Bureaucratic Assault on Aboriginal People


194 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55266-103-2
DDC 323.1'197071




Reviewed by Kerry Abel

Kerry Abel is a professor of history at Carleton University. She is the author of Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History, co-editor of Aboriginal Resource Use in Canada: Historical and Legal Aspects, and co-editor of Northern Visions: New Perspectives on the North in Canadian History.


The authorship is intriguing (an angry accountant and an activist poet),
and the premise (that accounting can be used as a tool of state
oppression) definitely worth consideration. But the book fails to
deliver. It is polemic masquerading as scholarship, and not very
effective polemic at that. If you already accept the idea that Europeans
have practised genocide against indigenous peoples around the world, you
will find little in the book that you have not heard before. If you are
a skeptic about this kind of proposition, there is insufficient here to
change your mind.

The idea that record-keeping, census-taking, and bookkeeping can be
effective tools of public policy has been explored in both theoretical
and case studies, particularly in postmodern scholarship. It certainly
ought to be explored as a factor in the history of “Indian” policy
in Canada. For years in my Aboriginal-history courses, I tried to entice
a student into undertaking just such a research project. However, to
attempt such a study without consulting the original (archival) records
of the bureaucracies and without an understanding of the broader
parameters of historical context would limit the results so badly as to
make the exercise pointless.


Neu, Dean, and Richard Therrien., “Accounting for Genocide: Canada's Bureaucratic Assault on Aboriginal People,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,