2000. In such a context, questions about the quality of life and well-being of Canada’s Aboriginal people have, … In order to maintain coherence, I opted to focus only on the English-Canadian literature that directly addresses Aboriginal quality of life. “Modern Aboriginal Economies. am grateful for the expertise of Joyce Green, David Newhouse and Carole Lévesque, who generously offered their judicious comments and advice. (1990, 208). 2004. The numbers are stark: Out of almost 1.2 million Canadians who identify themselves as Aboriginal, just over 26 per cent live on a reserve; the rest do not. “Tracking Inequality in the Canadian Labour Market.” In Restructuring and Resistance: Canadian Public Policy in an Age of Global Capitalism, edited by Mike Burke, Colin Mooers, and John Shields. More recently, in June 2006, the Harper government refused to ratify the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which proclaims, among other things, the right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination. If anything, these papers argue, the special treatment offered by the state has been to no avail, as increased government spending has failed to improve health and other social indicators for Aboriginal people. White, Jerry P., and Paul S. Maxim. The appearance of other terms, such as “Indian” or “native,” reflects usage in certain official documents and quotations from some of the authors reviewed. These cuts have had a direct, usually negative effect on the most vulnerable groups of society, including Aboriginal people. Kirmayer, Laurence J., M. Malus, and Lucy Boothroyd. Every country, no matter the reputation, faces its own set of problems. Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant. Aboriginal people face socioeconomic challenges that, in many ways, are far more daunting than those to which the general population is usually exposed. Only his ideological and political attitudes remain to be considered. 2005. Google Scholar. Among those who endorse the general premise of this intellectual project, some have chosen to uncover the empirical conditions of Aboriginal life (the selfimposed mission of several contributors to the First Nations Cohesion Project). Jean Allard, a Métis politician and former NDP Manitoba MLA, argues that modern checks and balances applied to Aboriginal leaders do not operate, as there is no real separation between politics and administration on reserves. Evidence has been available for some time on the complex web of physiological, psychological, spiritual, historical, cultural, economic and environmental factors that have combined over time to create among Aboriginal communities a widespread and generalized state of ill health (Waldram, Herring, and Young 1995), which, most authors infer, constitutes a major obstacle to these communities’ ability to elaborate the appropriate measures of redress for a better socioeconomic and political future. “The Aboriginal People of Canada: Colonialism and Mental Health.” In Ethnicity, Immigration and Psychopathology, edited by I. Al-Issa and M. Tousignant. Finally, they also contend that culture plays a significant role, as the economic success of Aboriginal communities rests on a strong and widely accepted fit between the culture of the community and the structure and powers of the governing institutions (Cornell and Kalt 1992, 1998, 2000; see also the Harvard Project Web site, www.ksg.harvard.edu/hpaied). That said, their analysis, like a good deal of the rest of the literature for that matter, does not really address the politics of Aboriginal quality of life. “Of White Heroes and Old Men Talking.” Eastern Door 9: 19. Although "Indian" is a term still commonly used in legal documents, the descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" have somewhat fallen into disuse in Canada, and some consider them to be pejorative. “The Politics of Trust and Participation: A Case Study in Developing First Nations and University Capacity to Build Health Information Systems in a First Nations Context.” Journal of Aboriginal Health (January): 68-78. What have we learned? The notion of PTSD is usually associated with the theory that holds that individuals can be affected deeply by historic traumatic events (civil war, genocide, forced displacement or acculturation of entire communities, and so on) that occurred before their lifetime (Wesley-Esquimaux and Smolewski 2004). Baron, Stephen, John Field, and Tom Schuller. Citizens from a cross-section of Canadian society were brought together in 40 small groups in various locations across the country to discuss what is important for quality of life and the information they need to assess progress (Michalski 2001, 2002; Zagon 2001, 2002). London: Sage. 2003. (Kirmayer, Brass, and Tait 2000, 614). As a result, a wide variety of expertise and research capacity has been mobilized, both directly and indirectly, across several fields of the social sciences, the humanities and the life sciences, to examine the many issues related to the quality of life and wellbeing of Aboriginal people. 2004a. Nair, G. 2003. Portes, Alejandro. Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks. Although it is not necessarily clearly acknowledged or formulated in this way, quality of life hinges in part on what the state can or cannot or will or will not offer citizens, or on whether or not the state shields them from market inadequacies. 2004. (1999,8), Ultimately then, inasmuch as self-determination is understood as the key to well-being, whether Aboriginal communities succeed in bringing about the desired level of quality of life is essentially incumbent on the willingness of individuals to embrace healthy lifestyles, bring peace in their relations with others and reconnect themselves with the key cultural parameters of the Aboriginal way of life. Accessed May 12, 2006. www.cprn.org/en/ doc.cfm?doc=47. I have refrained from using the term “Indigenous,” which usually refers to Aboriginal peoples in the context of international organizations and political movements. Cornell and Kalt find that sovereignty, institutions and culture matter in achieving economic success. Hawthorn, H.B., ed. They do not exhaust the full range of research projects that could be devised. An article in the Edmonton Journal claimed that the suicide rate among Aboriginal Peoples of Canada an epidemic (Aboriginal suicide rate ‘epidemic’, 2007). Their varied contributions on the topics of community healing and resilience unequivocally indicate that policy choices concerning Aboriginal well-being should give Aboriginal communities considerable latitude in decisions over psychological and mental health issues and over questions concerning quality of life more generally (Elias and O’Neil 2004; Lemchuk-Favel and Jock 2004; Warry 1998). Scholarship and analysis are devoted both to documenting successful cases of community economic development initiatives that led to tangible empowerment and positive social transformation at the local level, and to drawing out the theoretical and methodological implications that can inform action and help economic field workers develop adequate and adapted tools for capacity-building in their own environment. 2004), the crisis of individual identity (Briggs 1985; Dorais 1997; Stairs 1992) and the clinical treatment of psychological traumas (Kirmayer 1996a, 1996b). Aboriginal peoples is a legal term encompassing all indigenous Canadian groups. 2004. For the fourth year in a row, Canada has topped the list in overall quality of life, according to a study conducted by U.S. News. “Attempted Suicide among Inuit Youth: Psychosocial Correlates and Implications for Prevention.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 43 (8): 816-27. Mentally healthy individuals are more likely to contribute positively to their community, and a community of mentally healthy individuals will be better equipped to acquire and provide its members with the requisites of a life of good quality. The Lost Century: Moving Aboriginal Policy from the 19th Century to the 21st Century. The focus on personal healing and transformation of the self is undeniably persuasive; it does, on the face of it, make good sense. 2005. The latter group’s research contributions have spawned a fairly extensive, increasingly dominant literature that emphasizes social capital and capacity-building as foundations for a better quality of life in the following way. Clearly, the Harvard Project’s emphasis on independent governance and the importance of culturally appropriate governing institutions lends support to the claims of selfdetermination and nationhood that are now the mainstay of Aboriginal political discourse. _____. Their focus is more on the capacity of individuals and narrowly defined communities to create their own conditions of the good life. “Gendered Racial Violence and Spatialized Justice: The Murder of Pamela George.” In Race, Space and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, edited by Sherene H. Razack. They are not necessarily tightly defined or mutually exclusive. Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC. Rotman, Leonard. Yet perhaps the most surprising observation one is forced to make at the end of this survey of the literature is that the fundamentally political character of Aboriginal quality of life remains insufficiently acknowledged by the vast majority of the authors reviewed. Telephone: 514-985-2461 Without rejecting the capitalist imperatives that unavoidably underscore economic development, they suggest instead that these imperatives be adapted to Aboriginal world views — that Aboriginal values and normative parameters be made to inform any process of economic and social empowerment. How has welfare retrenchment affected their quality of life? 2004. Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks. Victoria, BC: Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Centre for Aboriginal Policy Change. His research has focused mainly on the politics of the relations between the French-speaking majority and members of linguistic, cultural, racialized and immigrant minorities and First Peoples in Quebec. Although, on the face of it, the equality argument may seem unfairly critical of the supposed privileges and prerogatives enjoyed by Aboriginal people, it is, in fact, cautiously constructed precisely so as to not appear unsupportive of Aboriginal people. Findlay, Isobel M., and John D. Russell. Canada’s sport system and the quality of life of all people in Canada. Selling Diversity: Immigration, Multiculturalism, Employment Equity, and Globalization. This particular literature comprises two main threads. 2005. There is also widespread agreement about the urgency of finding appropriate responses that will quickly lead to tangible improvements in the general quality of life of Aboriginal people. The communitarian thinking that permeates some discussions on capacity-building in particular seems to argue for a return to an almost mythical community where the restoration of traditions would perforce ensure a better living. _____. Notwithstanding the richness, usefulness and diversity of the insights and data delivered by the approaches reviewed, few authors actually seek to tackle the reasons the socioeconomic conditions of Aboriginal people still remain substandard in the aggregate and have even deteriorated further in some cases. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1996. Asking Citizens What Matters for Quality of Life in Canada: Results of CPRN’s Public Dialogue Process October 2000. 1996a. _____. Macklem, Patrick. Citizens Plus: Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian State. There is no denying that numerous Aboriginal communities have seen their lot improve substantially thanks to the work of community-conscious and culturally sensitive individuals and organizations, including state agencies. The reluctance of governments to settle land claims quickly to the unequivocal benefit of Aboriginal communities clearly indicates that there is much at stake for the state and non-Aboriginal Canadians in settlements that would, in some cases, allow Aboriginal people control over large pools of economically sensitive natural resources. Still, one cannot help but wonder why some communities rally behind a collective project of economic recovery and succeed, while others cannot seem to pull it together despite genuinely good intentions. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 89-613-MIE, no. In 1995, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples released a special report in which it identified four groups of risk factors associated with suicide: psychobiological (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia), situational (disruptions of family, forced attendance at residential schools, long-term illnesses), socioeconomic (poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing) and cultural stress (erosion of belief systems and spirituality, loss of control over the land, racial discrimination, weakening of political and social institutions). Alfred’s view converges with that of other students of Aboriginal mental health who stress the importance of cultural integrity and political control for the improvement of Aboriginal quality of life. ‘Being Alive Well’: Health and the Politics of Cree Well-Being. Report of Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People — Mission to Canada. Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive fear and anxiety that is related to behavioural disturbances (i.e. To that end, the CTF suggests, all Aboriginal communities should be municipalized, submitted to the same rules of good governance, transparency and accountability in force all over the country, and their constituents no longer exempted from paying taxes (as provided in the Indian Act). Smith argues that Canada’s Aboriginal policy must be rethought and reframed on the basis of two incontrovertible principles: Aboriginal self-reliance and equality under the law. Stairs, A. 2005. Journalists often reported negatively on the AHF, terming it a “nest of maggots”, for example, or insinuating corruption and misuse of funds. CONTEXT: First Nations in Canada are affirming their rights and advancing plans to improve the quality of . they seem to have a fairly good sense of what ails Aboriginal communities and individuals: the higher incidence of family violence, youth suicide, psychological distress and substance abuse, poorer individual health, weak or undeveloped capacity for economic development, the greater likelihood of exclusion from key labour markets, substandard housing and sanitary conditions — all of which makes life for them, at least on the surface, more difficult and less appealing. n.d. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Ottawa. (1995), he lashes out at the federal and provincial governments for giving in to a sense of collective guilt that he claims nonAboriginal Canadians seem to have for past wrongs done to Aboriginal people and for kowtowing uncritically as a result to their demands. In her view, the holistic approach and spirit upon which the medicine wheel is based are more appropriate not only to understand Aboriginal communities and their needs, but also as a framework with which to guide action toward economic and social empowerment. life for our people and communities based on First Nations rights, Treaties and increased responsibility. In a release this week, the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada wrote, “Quality health care is out of reach for many Aboriginal Canadians.” A complicated “patchwork” of policies, legislation and agreements…cultural barriers according to the Association, have created barriers to equitable access to health care and services. In order to solve current issues of Aboriginal quality of life, must Canadians acquiesce to the repeated pleas for enhanced self-government and political autonomy and can they do so without weakening the very foundations of the Canadian state? They are generally quite uncomfortable with Aboriginal claims of self-government, and refuse to go along with the assumption that it is a necessary prerequisite to greater Aboriginal well-being. Too much taxpayers’ money is being spent, too many programs are being created with insufficient accountability and unconvincing outcomes. A Survey of the Contemporary Indians of Canada: Economic, Political, Educational Needs and Policies. Society-wide increases in social capital (and, implicitly, in social cohesion) are thus more likely to have a strongly positive effect on well-being and the general quality of life. 2003. Global and integrated conceptions of quality of life and well-being are strongly emphasized by a number of Aboriginal scholars. Report on Growth, Human Development and Social Cohesion. 2004b. In Our Home or Native Land? The rate for First Nations people (over 15 years old) was 53.8 per cent, 61.3 per cent for the Métis and 49.0 per cent for the Inuit. Newhouse (2004) is all too aware of it, but, like Wuttunee, he believes that what he calls “red capitalism” is possible and that Aboriginal values and world views can be constructively applied to the practices of capitalism for the betterment of the quality of life in Aboriginal communities. This actually seldom happens; see Rodon (2003). This approach also does not question whether macrostructural dimensions such as the dominant pattern of power relations or the inner logic of the Canadian political economy might be at cause. 2000. Road to Prosperity: Five Steps to Change Aboriginal Policy. 2000. “The Supreme Court’s Van der Peet Trilogy: Native Imperialism and Ropes of Sand.” McGill Law Journal 42 (4): 993-1009. Although it rests largely on a politics of the self, it assumes, like the social-cohesion literature — albeit in a more implicit fashion — that the key to Aboriginal well-being is healthy, ordered and well-balanced communities. They have, in so doing, called Canadians and even their own leadership to account in no uncertain terms. Economics is by all accounts a prime determinant of quality of life. CPRN found that, when asked directly what matters to them in terms of quality of life, Canadians alluded to dimensions that can be grouped under nine thematic headings: democratic rights and participation, health care, education and learning, the environment, social programs and conditions, community, personal well-being, the economy and employment and, lastly, government. 2004. The findings of the research examined in this paper have taken the policy community quite a long way toward better appreciating the reality of qualityof-life issues for Aboriginal people in Canada. 1996. “Self-Image, World-Image: Speculations on Identity from Experiences with Inuit.” Ethos 20 (1): 116-26. 2004. Decolonization and Healing: Indigenous Experiences in the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Greenland. __________. 2000b. Wuttunee claims that her review of economic development initiatives in Aboriginal communities of western Canada shows that “there are no cookie-cutter solutions…no panaceas” (2004b, 17). As he argues: Throughout the 1950s, studies conducted for Indian Affairs centred on problems of Indian adaptation and transition to Euro-Canadian society. The Dark Side of the Nation. Blackstock, Cindy, Sarah Clarke, James Cullen, Jeffrey D’Hondt, and Jocelyn Fromsma. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Ottawa: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Strategic Research and Analysis Directorate. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. In his view, the key to the amelioration of Aboriginal quality of life in Canada lies in the search for solutions that respect and take into consideration the needs of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, not in the aspirations of self-government and territorial autonomy put forward notably by the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. (Alfred 2005, 87). New York: Orion. Halifax, NS: Fernwood. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Research Branch. Edmonton: M.G. “What Matters? Now they form the basis for success. 1977. Like most other Western jurisdictions, the Canadian state has made appreciable cuts in welfare programs, unemployment assistance and social services over the past decades. Alberta. attempts to avoid objects or situations that arouse anxiety) (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013). A kind of bureaucratic and political inertia is at play, casting Aboriginal people as inferior, subaltern beings, precluding as a result the establishment of a truly egalitarian relationship between them and the Canadian state and blocking any possibility of renewing Aboriginal governance (Ladner and Orsini 2004, 2005). 2005. 1986. New York: Greenwood Press. Geneva: United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Economic and Social Council. Albany: State University of New York Press. See other Aboriginal success stories from across Canada. A Critical Review of the Literature.” International Journal of Rehabilitation Research 12 (2): 121-36. Striving to transform these relations into a truly egalitarian rapport would create a more level playing field that could facilitate the positive evolution of Aboriginal socioeconomic conditions. The APS was conducted for the first time in 1991 and again in 2001, 2006, and 2012. 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