In cities, where the majority of Aboriginal people now live, high poverty rates and low levels of educational attainment and poor health combine to exacerbate the risk of social exclusion. 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). “Big Bear’s Treaty: The Road to Freedom.” Inroads 11: 111-71. However, few, if any, address the social rigidities of market forces, the difficulty of transforming market-driven social relations of power to the advantage of groups that have not historically benefited from a position of strength in the market. doi: 10.1111/ajag.12421. Cooke, Martin, Dan Beavon, and Mindy McHardy. quality of life. 2001. The focus on personal healing and transformation of the self is undeniably persuasive; it does, on the face of it, make good sense. Why does the Canadian state, which is theoretically prepared to recognize Aboriginal titles and other rights, willfully create obstacles to the full enjoyment by Aboriginal people of ready sources of economic well-being? The contributions to the 2002 conference (Newhouse and Peters 2003; White, Maxim, and Beavon 2003, 2004) provide an impressive compendium of mostly quantitative data and statistical observations on the full range of quality-of-life issues; they represent well the analytical and epistemological spirit with which a policy-driven, evidence-based perspective frames the question of Aboriginal quality of life. For Canada, a key problem is the under-representation of Aboriginal voices in government and the over-representation of Aboriginals living in the streets. 2005. Newhouse, David, Kevin Fitzmaurice, and Yale D. Belanger. In truth, however, all is not as bleak as sensationalist news reports might imply. New York: Plenum Press. The survey also implies, by extension, that any policy analysis or research on the quality of life should focus on the state’s measurable capacity to create the conditions for the good life. “The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples: Transformations of Identity and Community.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 45 (7): 607-16. 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. Still, chances are that “progress will not materialize,” as scholars Roger Maaka and Augie Fleras argue, “until Aboriginal peoples-state relations are addressed within the context of rights not needs, of relationships not restitution, and of engagement not extinguishment” (Maaka and Fleras 2005: 209-210). It is these things that are the true guarantees of peace, health, strength, and happiness — of survival — for Indigenous peoples. 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). How do existing modes of governance, the control exercised by local elites over access to and distribution of collective resources and the political and administrative proximity of some chiefs and band councils to the Canadian state bureaucracy affect the ability of community members to enjoy a fair measure of well-being? Accessed May 12, 2006. www.cprn.org/en/doc.cfm?doc=90. Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks. Analyses based on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), for example, have established that Canada’s registered Indians,1 including those living on and off reserves, fare considerably less well than Canadians as a whole. The Unjust Society. In this book celebrated for its level-headedness, Cairns revives the recommendations of the Hawthorn Report and suggests that Aboriginal people in Canada be granted a special status that would somehow recognize additional rights. “Multiple Points of Light: Grounds for Optimism among First Nations in Canada.” In Hidden in Plain Sight: Contributions of Aboriginal Peoples to Canadian Identity and Culture, edited by David Newhouse, Cora Voyageur, and Daniel Beavon. In the following pages, I address these questions as I evaluate current knowledge about Aboriginal quality of life and ponder alternative research orientations. The bulk of the work produced so far rests on positivist methodologies and hinges essentially on the search for reliable factual data and measurable social and economic outcomes. Within this strand of the literature, economic development obviously figures as a significant vector of capacity-building. Racism, cultural ostracism and delegitimization in the public sphere also factor into the social subordination of minority groups. Shewell, Hugh. Lemchuk-Favel, Laurel, and Richard Jock. In a way, one might find that refreshing, for, on the face of it, it seems to evince both an encouraging absence of intellectual rigidity and heartening postcolonial sensitivity to the diversity of situations experienced by Aboriginal people in Canada. Scurfield. As the preceding discussion suggested, questions related to Aboriginal quality of life pose a fairly difficult and perplexing conundrum for Canadian policymakers. (Hunter 2004, 3). 99-01 2-X2011003 5 The educational attainment of Aboriginal peoples in Canada In comparison, almost two-thirds (64.7%) of the non-Aboriginal population aged 25 to 64 had a postsecondary qualification in 2011. Road to Prosperity: Five Steps to Change Aboriginal Policy. Policy audits would serve to separate fact from fiction. 2003. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press. Although Canada has clear and uncompromising antidiscrimination policies, mechanisms of social exclusion and suspicion toward the other may still operate in subtle, unsuspected ways. Only his ideological and political attitudes remain to be considered. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Blackstock, Cindy, Sarah Clarke, James Cullen, Jeffrey D’Hondt, and Jocelyn Fromsma. 1996a. September 2005; Social Indicators Research 73(2):295-312; DOI: 10.1007/s11205-004-6169-5. The works of political scientist Kiera Ladner (2005), political theorist James Tully (1995) and legal scholars John Borrows (2002) and Patrick Macklem (2002), to name but some of the more compelling voices, suggest paths of institutional reconfiguration that can potentially address and resolve the difficult political questions. Policy Driven Evidence, Indigenous Government and the Harvard Project.” Paper presented at the Australian Social Policy Conference, University of New South Wales, Sydney, July 20-25. They have, in so doing, called Canadians and even their own leadership to account in no uncertain terms. Proclaiming that Aboriginal people must have access to the same degree of wellbeing as every other Canadian citizen is also implying, particularly in Canada’s policy context of fiscal attrition, that they must eventually do as well in the market as mainstream Canadians; ultimately, they must come to rely less on the state for their individual and collective well-being. While one gets from it a good sense of where things stand, the approach does not really offer in the end an explicit vision of the policy direction that would best tackle the most pressing quality-of-life issues faced by Aboriginal people in Canada.11. Strengthening Relationships: The Government of Alberta’s Aboriginal Policy Framework. The appearance of other terms, such as “Indian” or “native,” reflects usage in certain official documents and quotations from some of the authors reviewed. However, many times Canadians neglect to … 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. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Citizens Plus: Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian State. As the first step in this endeavour, this paper takes stock of the current state of knowledge about the broad issues related to the quality of life and well-being of Aboriginal people, some of the innovations that are ameliorating their living conditions and the linkages between quality of life and governance in Aboriginal communities. These simple questions raise complex political considerations and systemic issues that need to be identified and understood in order to grasp the reasons why solutions that seem to work are not universalized. 2002. This absence of focus on the politics of Aboriginal quality of life may well have to do with the analytical angle of much of the research. “Aboriginal Economic Development and the Triple Bottom Line: Toward a Sustainable Future?” Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development 4 (2): 84-99. 2000. Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools. The work of the Harvard Project researchers has had much influence within Aboriginal circles in Canada, having inspired the advocacy efforts and sociopolitical vision of many Aboriginal leaders. Redefining Success in Community Development. (94-95; see also Alfred 2005). [1] Many unfavourable media reports focused o… While the AFN and sister Aboriginal organizations are prepared to exercise their inherent rights to self-determination within the institutional parameters of the Canadian state, Aboriginal scholars who have considered quality-oflife issues in Aboriginal communities can have quite a different view on the question. Indigenous Difference and the Constitution of Canada. As she notes: most programs for Aboriginal peoples encourage them to enter the very marketbased, capitalist system that has marginalized many of them for years…This alternative approach, however, strives for a balance and additional terms of reference that may be picked up by anyone and used to modify their approaches to development. Since the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was published a decade ago, both the federal and most provincial governments have formulated and implemented initiatives and action plans designed precisely to offer redress and improve the living conditions and general welfare of Aboriginal communities and individuals. The above suggestions imply that new research questions need to be formulated. These challenges severely curtail the ability of Aboriginal people to enjoy levels of general well-being that other Canadians expect for themselves. Surprisingly, most of the research within that framework is rather short on policy solutions. Strange Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity. _____. To this end, he calls for a greater measure of integration by Aboriginal people into the mainstream of Canadian society, more accountability on the part of Aboriginal governments and administrations, the deconcentration of power away from band councils in matters of service delivery and management and the introduction of a regime of individual property rights. Miller-Chenier, Nancy. Indeed, one of the most reputable countries in the world contains an impoverished indigenous population, a remnant of the atrocious treatment of aboriginals since colonial times. As the AHF launched its healing initiative, it had to overcome a significant amount of scepticism from the general public. According to Newhouse, “capitalism with a red face” can have a positive, transformative impact on both the life of Aboriginal communities and the broader society, in several ways: It is important to note that, contrary to the Harvard Project, which invites Aboriginal communities to follow well-delineated paths to and proven recipes of economic success and empowerment, Wuttunee and Newhouse are not prescriptive. As the first step in this endeavour, this paper aims to take stock of the current state of knowledge of the broad issues related to the quality of life and wellbeing of Aboriginal people, of innovations that are ameliorating their living conditions and of the linkages between quality of life and governance in their communities. In order to bring about the social cohesion that is the key to improved well-being, Aboriginal people must acquire greater capacity — that is, “the ability of individuals, organizations, and whole societies to define and solve problems, make informed choices, order their priorities and plan their futures, as well as implement programs and projects to sustain them” (Nair 2003, 1, quoted in Hunt 2005, 1). Data from Statistics Canada have become more extensive as a result of major new initiatives such as the 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (O’Donnell and Tait 2004; Siggner and Costa 2005). 2002. “Modern Aboriginal Economies. Papillon, Martin, and Gina Cosentino. He is a member of the UQAM-based Centre de recherche sur l’immigration, l’ethnicité et la citoyenneté (CRIEC). How’s Life? Similarly, stable political institutions and policies, fair and independent mechanisms for dispute resolution, a separation of politics from day-today business management, a capable bureaucracy and a strategic orientation contribute to the maintenance of an environment conducive to economic development. “Introduction: The Focus of Aboriginal Conditions.” In Aboriginal Conditions: Research as a Foundation for Public Policy, edited by Jerry P. White, Paul S. Maxim, and Dan Beavon. 1977. In order to further our understanding of Aboriginal quality of life, future research should seek to explore the nature and impact of such dynamics. Albany: State University of New York Press. Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Networks. McGuinty Government And Right To Play Launch Hockey Program. 2000. The best social policies may well have limited impact without such a broader perspective. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The committee expressed serious concerns about the social and economic well-being of Aboriginal people in Canada — notably, the fact that “significant disparities still remain between Aboriginal people and the rest of the population in areas of employment, access to water, health, housing and education,” and that “the long-standing issues of discrimination against First Nations women and their children, in matters relating to Indian status, Band membership and matrimonial property on reserve lands have still not been resolved,” much to the detriment of “the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights of First Nations women and their children under the Covenant.” The committee also noted with some unease that, despite the state’s commitment to refrain from resorting to the extinguishment of Aboriginal rights and titles, Canada’s current approaches to land claims “do not differ much from the extinguishment and surrender approach” (United Nations 2006, 4).In 2004, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, presented a report on the condition of Aboriginal people in Canada that was equally troubling. Lévesque, Carole. Conceptions of quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and methods for assessing these, predominantly shaped by Western cultural codes, can be problematic. The other focuses more on investment in human and social capital, and the strengthening of civil society” (Hunt 2005, 1). Applied to individuals, the medicine wheel encompasses the dynamic system of mind, body, emotions and spirit, and the particular needs of each of these areas of the wheel that must be met for the development of human potential. The virtues of individual freedom over collective or bureaucratic dictates are touted as the way out of the adverse conditions Aboriginal people experience. From that perspective, quality of life is ultimately determined and assessed in large part by the ability of the state to cope with broad economic, demographic, political and social trends and to adjust to the demands posed by their evolution. 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