Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2001


Published in Great Plains Research 11:1 (Spring 2001). Copyright © 2001 Center for Great Plains Studies.


Many books have documented the history of colonization and oppression faced by Aboriginal people in Canada, often within the context of discord between First Nations communities and the prevailing justice system. Black Eyes All the Time pushes this analysis to a new and challenging level. Based on a study of twenty-six Aboriginal women interviewed in Winnipeg, this work provides an in-depth and sensitive consideration of the painful topic of intimate violence within Canadian Aboriginal communities.

The women interviewed had all been victims of spousal violence. Quotations from these interviews are effectively interspersed throughout the text. The authors' research findings are presented and interpreted with the aid of a thorough review of academic scholarship respecting both intimate violence and Aboriginal justice issues. Opening with a historical overview of the colonization of Aboriginal people in Canada, the book traces the damaging effects of reserve life and residential schools on Aboriginal people but also questions how this "cultural devaluation" has affected the status and safety of Aboriginal women within their broader community. The authors argue strongly that the current reality of many Aboriginal women cannot be allowed to continue regardless of its roots: "Historical processes help to explain intimate violence in Aboriginal communities but cannot excuse it or justify its continuation."