Chris Hiller

Assistant Professor, Social Development Studies
Chris Hiller


Ph.D., Wilfrid Laurier University — Social Work

M.A., University of Toronto/Ontario Institute for Studies in Education — Sociology and Equity Studies in Education (current: Social Justice Education)

B.A., University of Waterloo—Psychology, Peace and Conflict Studies

Research and teaching interests

Settler colonialism; Indigenous-settler relations; education towards decolonization; critical pedagogy; alliance building and allyship; social movements; anti-colonial activism; conflict transformation and peacebuilding; qualitative research methods; narrative; anti-oppressive and anti-colonial social work.

Courses taught in SDS

ARTS 140 Social Change and Social Development

SOCWK 300R Canadian Social Welfare Policy

SDS 411R Decolonization and Social Action

Recent publications

Davis, L., Hare, J., Hiller, C., Morcom, L, & Taylor, L. (Forthcoming). Conversations about Indigenizing, decolonizing, and transformative pedagogical practices. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 40 (1), Special Issue on Pedagogies Toward Decolonization, Indigenization, and Reconciliation.

Davis, L., Hiller, C., James, C., Lloyd, K., Nasca, T., & Taylor, S. (2017). Complicated pathways: Settler Canadians learning to re/frame themselves and their relationships with Indigenous peoples.  Settler Colonial Studies, 7(4), 398-414. DOI: 10.1080/2201473X.2016.1243086

Hiller, C., & Carlson, E. (Forthcoming, Summer 2018). These are Indigenous lands: Foregrounding settler colonialism and Indigenous sovereignty as primary contexts for Canadian environmental social work.  Canadian Social Work Review of Social Work, 35(1).

Hiller, C. (2017). ‘No, what are your treaty rights?’ Treaty consciousness in a decolonizing frame. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 38(4), 381-408. DOI: 10.1080/10714413.2016.1203684

Hiller, C. (2017). Tracing the spirals of unsettlement: Euro-Canadian narratives of coming to grips with Indigenous sovereignty, title, and rights. Settler Colonial Studies, 7(4), 415-440. DOI: 10.1080/2201473X.2016.1241209

Conference presentations

Hiller, C., & Van Katwyk, T. (2018, May). Attending to the architecture: De/colonizing U=universities through critical Immersions in place. Workshop presented at the 31st Annual Teaching & Learning Innovations Conference, University of Guelph, Ontario.

Hiller, C., & Calrson, E. (2017, May). These are Indigenous lands: Foregrounding settler colonialism and Indigenous sovereignty as primary contexts for Canadian environmental social work. Paper presentation at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of Social Work Education, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario.

Hiller, C. & Van Katwyk, T. (2017, May). Attending to the architecture: Immersing in place as a set of de/colonizing relations. Showcase presentation at Pedagogies of Decolonization and Reconciliation in the Post-Secondary, subconference of the Canadian Critical Pedagogy Association/Canadian Society for the Study of Education, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario.

Taylor, L., Davis, L., Morcom, L., & Hiller, C. (2016, May). Pedagogies of settler-Indigenous alliance-building in the post-secondary classroom. Panel presentation at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.  

Hiller, C. (2016, May). Unsettling spaces: Ethical engagements, difficult learning, and decolonizing education at the site of a former residential school. Presentation at the annual conference of the Canadian Association for the Study of Indigenous Education/Canadian Society for the Study of Education, Calgary, Alberta.

Carlson, L., & Hiller, C. (2015, June). Interfacing anti-colonial social movements and social work in Canada. Workshop presented to the Annual Conference of the Canada Association of Social Work Education, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario.

Hiller, C. (2015, June). Sparking spirals of decolonizing praxis: Critical turning points in white settler narratives of coming to grips with colonizing history and Indigenous sovereignty. Paper presented to the Joint Session of Canadian Association of Social Work Education and the Canadian Sociological Association, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ontario.

Hiller, C., Corbiere, M.L., Gibbs, J., & Pelletier, K. (2015, June). Artifacts of privilege and oppression: An arts-based pedagogy for exploring social location in a BSW classroom. Workshop presented to Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of Social Work Education, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario.                     

Current research projects

For the long haul: What we can learn from long-term Indigenous-settler alliances (SSHRC Insight Development Grant, June 2018-May 2020; Principal Investigator Lynne Davis (Trent University); Co-Investigators Jeff Denis (McMaster University), Chris Hiller (Renison University College), Dawn Lavallee-Harvard (Trent University).

Using a critical case study approach informed by Indigenous research methodologies, this pilot project will explore how long-term Indigenous-settler alliances emerge and unfold in Canada.

Privileging the voices, experiences, and analyses of alliance participants, we will consider how such relationships of support and solidarity surface, shift, and develop over time, all in response to changing social and political conditions, shifting needs, knowledges, and capacities, evolving relationships, and emerging demands for decolonization.

Our analysis will address three contexts of alliance building: 1) alliances fostered by Indigenous women’s leaders and organizations in support of decades-long challenges to gender-based discrimination and membership restrictions enforced through the Indian Act; 2) diverse alliances forged by Shoal Lake 40 First Nation to move forward its struggle to end a decades-long boil water advisory and state-imposed geographic isolation; and 3) over four decades of Indigenous solidarity efforts on the part of churches and church coalitions now carried out under the umbrella of KAIROS Canada. Looking within and across these three contexts, we will attend to shifts in the types of alliances that are fostered, the terms and conditions of their initiation and development, their evolving relational contexts, and the types of discourses, knowledges, and strategies that they mobilize. We will also highlight lessons learned by alliance participants over the long haul, noting the challenges they face, the principles that guide them, the ways they negotiate power and difference, and the insights they gain along the way. Insights from this study will inform a more comprehensive research project comparing how these and newer alliances are playing out across Canada in the post-TRC era.

Realizing Indigenous Education (Principal Investigator Susan Dion, York University; Co-Investigator Chris Hiller)

Nearly three decades since Cree scholar Eber Hampton first published his influential essay, ‘Towards a Redefinition of Indian Education,” this research project seeks to revisit, reflect upon, and extend Hampton’s 12 standards for Indigenous education, drawing upon insights gained over the last four years of the First Nations/Métis/Inuit Focused Collaborative Inquiry (FNMI CI), an initiative funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Education.  Unfolding in 44 district school boards across Ontario, the FNMI CI aims to foster the well-being and achievement of Indigenous students and to deepen engagements with local FNMI communities and partners; the initiative also seeks to increase the awareness, knowledge, and understanding among all staff and students of ongoing histories of colonization as well as Indigenous histories, cultures and perspectives. Using Hampton’s framework, this research project will explore the experiences of participants in the FNMI CI—Indigenous students and community members, as well as both Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and administrators—to consider the critical challenges, possibilities, and limits of realizing Indigenous education in the current settler colonial context. 

Along with producing a book on this theme, investigators will seek funding (SSHRC Connections Grant) to develop an installation that will travel to district school boards across Ontario and serve as a resource to galvanize educator engagement and professional development around Indigenous and decolonial education.    

Grants and awards

Insight Development Grant, SSHRC (2018-2020), For the Long Haul: What We Can Learn From Long-term Indigenous-Settler Alliances.

Gold Medal for Academic Excellence, Wilfrid Laurier University—Faculty of Social Work (2014)

Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2010)

Doctoral Fellowship, SSHRC (2007-2009)