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“Indian” Problems/Aboriginal Solutions By: Ehsan Jahangirvand and Marcia Lopes.

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Presentation on theme: "“Indian” Problems/Aboriginal Solutions By: Ehsan Jahangirvand and Marcia Lopes."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Indian” Problems/Aboriginal Solutions By: Ehsan Jahangirvand and Marcia Lopes

2 Framing the Problem For Aboriginal peoples, the challenge lies in establishing a new relationship based on the principle of partnership and power-sharing. For Aboriginal peoples, the challenge lies in establishing a new relationship based on the principle of partnership and power-sharing. Aboriginal peoples do not see themselves as subjects of the Crown but as sovereign self-determining peoples—a situation unacceptable by the Canadian government, which can neither accept a power that is above the constitution nor relinquish its sovereignty over territory in deference to a doctrine rejected by the UN. Aboriginal peoples do not see themselves as subjects of the Crown but as sovereign self-determining peoples—a situation unacceptable by the Canadian government, which can neither accept a power that is above the constitution nor relinquish its sovereignty over territory in deference to a doctrine rejected by the UN. Both Aboriginal peoples and the Quebecois define themselves as nations or peoples with inherent and collective rights to self-determining autonomy as “nations or peoples with inherent and collective rights to self-determining autonomy as “nations within.” Both Aboriginal peoples and the Quebecois define themselves as nations or peoples with inherent and collective rights to self-determining autonomy as “nations or peoples with inherent and collective rights to self-determining autonomy as “nations within.”

3 The “Indian” Problem: Opposing Arguments The Indian problem is caused by too much assimilation pressure at the expense of aboriginal differences. The Indian problem is caused by too much assimilation pressure at the expense of aboriginal differences. The problem stems from aboriginal refusal to assimilate, with a corresponding drift towards isolation, dependency and underdevelopment. The problem stems from aboriginal refusal to assimilate, with a corresponding drift towards isolation, dependency and underdevelopment. Indian problem may also be interpreted as the ‘Indians’ Canada problem because of history, power and politics. Indian problem may also be interpreted as the ‘Indians’ Canada problem because of history, power and politics. There is still a tendency to foist responsibility for the Indian problem on aboriginal peoples (blaming the victim) while overlooking the broader colonial context. There is still a tendency to foist responsibility for the Indian problem on aboriginal peoples (blaming the victim) while overlooking the broader colonial context.

4 The Indian Problem Nearly four hundred years of sustained contact have left Canada’s relationship with aboriginal peoples in a state of denial, disarray and despair. Nearly four hundred years of sustained contact have left Canada’s relationship with aboriginal peoples in a state of denial, disarray and despair. Aboriginal peoples were ruthlessly stripped of land, culture, livelihood and leadership with devastating impacts in terms of poverty, powerlessness and marginality. Aboriginal peoples were ruthlessly stripped of land, culture, livelihood and leadership with devastating impacts in terms of poverty, powerlessness and marginality. Unemployment is a major cause of aboriginal distress that leads directly to poor housing, illness, a sense of powerlessness, and cycles of poverty. Unemployment is a major cause of aboriginal distress that leads directly to poor housing, illness, a sense of powerlessness, and cycles of poverty. Access to land and resources remains a key problem. Access to land and resources remains a key problem.

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6 Aboriginal Woman and Youth

7 Aboriginal woman and youth The complexity of issues that confront aboriginal women is gaining prominence. The complexity of issues that confront aboriginal women is gaining prominence. Aboriginal women rank among the most severely disadvantaged people in Canada. Aboriginal women rank among the most severely disadvantaged people in Canada. Depression and self-hatred among aboriginal women is reflected in high levels of suicide, alcohol dependency, or neglect of children. Depression and self-hatred among aboriginal women is reflected in high levels of suicide, alcohol dependency, or neglect of children. Bill C-31 women do not have the right to pass full status to their children unless they marry a status Indian. Bill C-31 women do not have the right to pass full status to their children unless they marry a status Indian. Aboriginal women claim their rights are being trampled by male-dominated band councils that are neither responsible nor accountable, so what they get is based on who they know. Aboriginal women claim their rights are being trampled by male-dominated band councils that are neither responsible nor accountable, so what they get is based on who they know. Aboriginal youth in Canada are opting for suicide at rates that are unprecedented at any time or place in recorded history. Aboriginal youth in Canada are opting for suicide at rates that are unprecedented at any time or place in recorded history. Aboriginal youth are inclined to suicide because many lack a positive identity, role models, or a clear direction to assist them in meeting the challenges of adult life. Aboriginal youth are inclined to suicide because many lack a positive identity, role models, or a clear direction to assist them in meeting the challenges of adult life. Lack of opportunity on reserves, despair and boredom, and constant sense of powerlessness and loss of identity are also factors conductive to suicide. Lack of opportunity on reserves, despair and boredom, and constant sense of powerlessness and loss of identity are also factors conductive to suicide.

8 From Problems to Peoples Canada is accused of pursuing policies of repression and violence that have had the intent or effect of denying aboriginal peoples their rights and resources. Canada is accused of pursuing policies of repression and violence that have had the intent or effect of denying aboriginal peoples their rights and resources. A selective application of the law attests to this negativity: A selective application of the law attests to this negativity: a disproportionate number of aboriginal peoples in prisons; a disproportionate number of aboriginal peoples in prisons; continued dispossession of aboriginal land and resources; continued dispossession of aboriginal land and resources; erosion of the aboriginal right to self-determining autonomy; erosion of the aboriginal right to self-determining autonomy; destruction of the environment; destruction of the environment; and desecration of sacred and burial sites. and desecration of sacred and burial sites. Aboriginal peoples are perceived as a pampered lot who get a free ride, don’t pay taxes but receive $7.5 billion annually in reserve programs, and are treated with kid gloves by cowardly politicians. [There is a paradox]. The combination of promises, commitments, and concessions is poised to transform Canada’s First Nation from a ‘problem’ to a ‘peoples.’ Aboriginal peoples are perceived as a pampered lot who get a free ride, don’t pay taxes but receive $7.5 billion annually in reserve programs, and are treated with kid gloves by cowardly politicians. [There is a paradox]. The combination of promises, commitments, and concessions is poised to transform Canada’s First Nation from a ‘problem’ to a ‘peoples.’

9 VIDEO CLIP 2434/politics_economy/erasmus/clip /politics_economy/erasmus/clip /politics_economy/erasmus/clip /politics_economy/erasmus/clip /politics_economy/erasmus/clip /politics_economy/erasmus/clip /politics_economy/erasmus/clip /politics_economy/erasmus/clip /politics_economy/erasmus/clip /politics_economy/erasmus/clip8

10 Duelling Discourses Functionalist theorists look to assimilation as a solution. Aboriginal people should become more like “us” if they want to be successful. Functionalists argue that aboriginal people’s refusal to assimilate is the root cause of aboriginal problems, and solutions must focus on closing the cultural gaps between ‘Neolithic’ cultures and the modern world. A commitment to formal equality suggests that everyone is fundamentally alike. Towards that end, aboriginal policy objectives must focus on eliminating distinctions that not only distinguish aboriginal people from the mainstream but also preclude them from full and equal participation (Fleras, 2005, p. 311). Functionalist theorists look to assimilation as a solution. Aboriginal people should become more like “us” if they want to be successful. Functionalists argue that aboriginal people’s refusal to assimilate is the root cause of aboriginal problems, and solutions must focus on closing the cultural gaps between ‘Neolithic’ cultures and the modern world. A commitment to formal equality suggests that everyone is fundamentally alike. Towards that end, aboriginal policy objectives must focus on eliminating distinctions that not only distinguish aboriginal people from the mainstream but also preclude them from full and equal participation (Fleras, 2005, p. 311). However, conflict theorists argue that aboriginal people should be further removed from the mainstream in order to secure their distinctiveness and prosperity as a people. Unless aboriginal differences are incorporated into mainstream society, aboriginal people will continue to chafe under a system that created the Indian problem in the first place. An aboriginal agenda acknowledges aboriginal rights and defines aboriginal peoples as autonomous political communities who are sovereign in their own right (‘self rule’) (Fleras, 2005, pp ). However, conflict theorists argue that aboriginal people should be further removed from the mainstream in order to secure their distinctiveness and prosperity as a people. Unless aboriginal differences are incorporated into mainstream society, aboriginal people will continue to chafe under a system that created the Indian problem in the first place. An aboriginal agenda acknowledges aboriginal rights and defines aboriginal peoples as autonomous political communities who are sovereign in their own right (‘self rule’) (Fleras, 2005, pp ).

11 Duelling Discourses Continued For aboriginal people, the solution to the Indian problem lies in becoming less like the mainstream. That means, taking aboriginal differences into consideration when formulating policies, implementing programs, or defining agendas. The Indian problem needs to be rethought as a “Canada problem.” A new constitutional discourse is required for living together differently in the 21st century (Fleras, 2005, p. 313). Two questions to consider in constructing a new social contract for solving social problems are: For aboriginal people, the solution to the Indian problem lies in becoming less like the mainstream. That means, taking aboriginal differences into consideration when formulating policies, implementing programs, or defining agendas. The Indian problem needs to be rethought as a “Canada problem.” A new constitutional discourse is required for living together differently in the 21st century (Fleras, 2005, p. 313). Two questions to consider in constructing a new social contract for solving social problems are: What do aboriginal peoples want? What do aboriginal peoples want? What is the government willing to concede? What is the government willing to concede? One thing is for certain, that throwing money at aboriginal people will not solve their problems, but have had the effect of creating even more problems. One thing is for certain, that throwing money at aboriginal people will not solve their problems, but have had the effect of creating even more problems.

12 Aboriginal Self-Governance Aboriginal peoples were the first inhabitants of Canada. In the years before the arrival of Europeans, Aboriginal peoples relied on a variety of distinctive ways to organize their political systems and institutions. Later, many of these institutions were ignored or legally suppressed while the federal government attempted to impose a uniform set of vastly different Euro- Canadian political ideals on Aboriginal societies. Aboriginal peoples were the first inhabitants of Canada. In the years before the arrival of Europeans, Aboriginal peoples relied on a variety of distinctive ways to organize their political systems and institutions. Later, many of these institutions were ignored or legally suppressed while the federal government attempted to impose a uniform set of vastly different Euro- Canadian political ideals on Aboriginal societies. For many Aboriginal societies, self-government is seen as a way to regain control over the management of matters that directly affect them and to preserve their cultural identities. Aboriginal self-governance pertains to the distribution of power within Aboriginal communities and with central authorities. For many Aboriginal societies, self-government is seen as a way to regain control over the management of matters that directly affect them and to preserve their cultural identities. Aboriginal self-governance pertains to the distribution of power within Aboriginal communities and with central authorities. The federal government recognizes the need to renew the relationship with Aboriginal peoples and governments in Canada. It believes that Aboriginal peoples have the right to govern themselves; to make decisions about matters that affect their communities; and to exercise the responsibility that comes with self-government. In 1995, the federal government declared conditional support for the principle of self-governance through negotiated agreements within a federal framework. The Government of Canada is guided by several principles in negotiating self- government arrangements. The federal government recognizes the need to renew the relationship with Aboriginal peoples and governments in Canada. It believes that Aboriginal peoples have the right to govern themselves; to make decisions about matters that affect their communities; and to exercise the responsibility that comes with self-government. In 1995, the federal government declared conditional support for the principle of self-governance through negotiated agreements within a federal framework. The Government of Canada is guided by several principles in negotiating self- government arrangements. Self-government is based on contingent rather than sovereign rights. Self-government is based on contingent rather than sovereign rights. Aboriginal self-governments must operate within the Canadian federal system. Aboriginal self-governments must operate within the Canadian federal system. Self-government must work in harmony with other governments. Self-government must work in harmony with other governments. Self-government must be exercised within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Self-government must be exercised within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Aboriginal peoples must continue to be citizens of Canada and of the territory where they live. Aboriginal peoples must continue to be citizens of Canada and of the territory where they live. The interests of all Canadians must be taken into account as agreements are negotiated. The interests of all Canadians must be taken into account as agreements are negotiated.

13 Aboriginal Self-Governance continued Concerns are raised over costs, feasibility, effectiveness and jurisdiction, as well as the potential for corruption or abuse, and lack of community legitimacy. Concerns are raised over costs, feasibility, effectiveness and jurisdiction, as well as the potential for corruption or abuse, and lack of community legitimacy. Self-government is perceived as a threat to Canadian unity and vested interests. Self-government is perceived as a threat to Canadian unity and vested interests. Self-government is criticized as a quick-fix solution to a problem endorsed by Aboriginal elites who are out of touch with urban realities and local needs. Self-government is criticized as a quick-fix solution to a problem endorsed by Aboriginal elites who are out of touch with urban realities and local needs.

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15 Rethinking the “Indian” Problem What do Aboriginal Peoples Want? What do Aboriginal Peoples Want? Want to live in a just and equal society where their cultural lifestyles and language are protected from assimilationist pressures; Want to live in a just and equal society where their cultural lifestyles and language are protected from assimilationist pressures; Want to select relevant elements of the past and incorporate them into the present for advance into the future; Want to select relevant elements of the past and incorporate them into the present for advance into the future; want minimization of bureaucratic interference in their lives; want minimization of bureaucratic interference in their lives; do not want to be victimized by public racism or political indifference; do not want to be victimized by public racism or political indifference; want a reliable and culturally safe delivery of government services; want a reliable and culturally safe delivery of government services; want collective access to power and resources; want collective access to power and resources; want to maintain meaningful involvement over issues of immediate concern; want to maintain meaningful involvement over issues of immediate concern; want to be different and to have their difference recognized as a basis for engagement and entitlement; want to be different and to have their difference recognized as a basis for engagement and entitlement; don’t want to separate from Canada but want enough of their own territory to allow institutional sovereignty; don’t want to separate from Canada but want enough of their own territory to allow institutional sovereignty;

16 Rethinking the “Indian” Problem Continued want to cooperate with Canada not destroy it; want to cooperate with Canada not destroy it; want to participate not assimilate; want to participate not assimilate; and want to maintain their distinct identities as one of the many identities that make up this diverse country. and want to maintain their distinct identities as one of the many identities that make up this diverse country. The challenge lies in finding a working balance between aboriginal rights to self-government and Canada’s rights to impose rule of law in advancing national interests. Governments exercise remarkable power and control over aboriginal populations. They can set budgets, determine how many will be spent, and possess the power to do almost anything they want in terms of shaping the political agenda. The challenge lies in finding a working balance between aboriginal rights to self-government and Canada’s rights to impose rule of law in advancing national interests. Governments exercise remarkable power and control over aboriginal populations. They can set budgets, determine how many will be spent, and possess the power to do almost anything they want in terms of shaping the political agenda. Aboriginal peoples propose a radical redistribution of power ad resources in the hope of creating a new social contract for living together differently (Fleras, 2005, p. 325). Aboriginal peoples propose a radical redistribution of power ad resources in the hope of creating a new social contract for living together differently (Fleras, 2005, p. 325).

17 Discussion Questions What are the major issues confronting aboriginal populations? What are the major issues confronting aboriginal populations? Are Indigenous peoples in poverty and powerlessness because of a reluctance to assimilate into the mainstream? Are Indigenous peoples in poverty and powerlessness because of a reluctance to assimilate into the mainstream? What are some other solutions proposed by aboriginal leaders to solve the so-called “Indian” problem? How do these differ from mainstream political proposals? What are some other solutions proposed by aboriginal leaders to solve the so-called “Indian” problem? How do these differ from mainstream political proposals?


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