Seth Adema, PhD

Academic Centre
Seth finished his PhD in the history of incarceration of Indigenous peoples in Canada in 2016. Before coming to Lethbridge College in 2019, he worked in justice sector policy, first at the Chiefs of Ontario and then at the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General.
Policy Analysis
Indigenous History

Professional Experience

Teaching Experience

Seth teaches primarily in the Justice Studies – Bachelor of Applied Arts degree program at Lethbridge College. Previously, he taught at Wilfrid Laurier University on the history of prisons, and he worked in course development for Thompson Rivers University.

Industry Work

Seth worked in justice sector policy. First, he worked at the Chiefs of Ontario, an organization that works at the direction of the 133 First Nation Chiefs in Ontario. He spearheaded the “Justice as Healing” work plan, in which he organized a conference on First Nation relationships with the Canadian legal system, with a focus on corrections. He also wrote the Chiefs of Ontario official submission on the Correctional Services Transformation Act.

He later transferred to the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General, where he was responsible for developing regulations and policy guidance concerning issues in Ontario correctional facilities, with a particular focus on conditions of confinement and use of segregation.


Seth’s PhD dissertation examined the nature of corrections as a colonizing tool in Canada. It examined how and why Indigenous peoples became incarcerated, and questioned how prisons fit into a network of institutions including residential schools that contributed to Canada’s assimilatory goals. It also focused on the ways that Indigenous inmates confronted and challenged the assimilatory intent of prisons, and it discussed ways they used their incarceration as an opportunity to connect with their culture in the 20th century. Seth is currently exploring new opportunities for applied research.


Academic Credentials

PhD (Wilfrid Laurier University, History, 2016)


2018. “Helping his Brothers and Sisters Heal: Arthur Solomon and Penal Reform in Canada.” In Global Perspectives on Indigenous Health eds. Robert Henry, Robert Innes, and Nancy Van Styvendale, 2018.

2015. “Not Told by Victims: Genocide as Story among Aboriginal Inmates in Canada, 1969-1990.” The Journal of Genocide Research

2015. “Tradition and Transitions: Elders in Canadian Prisons, 1967-1992.” The Journal of the Canadian Historical Association

2012. “‘Our Destiny is Not Negotiable”: Native Brotherhoods and Decolonization in Ontario’s Federal Prisons, 1970-1982.” Left History