Neocolonialism, First Nations Governance and Identity: Community Perspectives from Battleford Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC) First Nations
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This thesis presents a secondary analysis of findings from a larger community-based participatory research (CBPR) project with the Battleford Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC) First Nations reserves in Northern Saskatchewan. Initiated at the request of BATC, a three year CBPR project, entitled: “Resilience to Offending: Listening to Youth On-Reserve,” aimed to identify, analyze and disseminate local knowledge about on-reserve youth resilience. This larger project intended to capture the perspectives of First Nations youth, Elders and community stakeholders who work with youth at risk of offending, by identifying culturally specific aspects of resilience. Using arts-based and mixed methods, the focus of this larger study was on personal, relational and environmental risks faced by the youth and the impact of formal and informal services on reserve on youth resilience. Guided by a postcolonial and anti-oppressive framework, this thesis provides a secondary analysis of the in-depth qualitative interviews with the fourteen stakeholders and Elders who work with youth. Using a constructivist grounded theory, this thesis explores the stakeholder’s and Elders’ perceptions of formal and informal services in First Nations communities as well as issues related to First Nations governance. The emerging framework brought to light the continued impact of the colonization process on the federal government’s interactions with First Nations’ members, communities, Aboriginal leadership and governance structures. The research questions for this thesis were: How is the colonization process at play in the federal government’s interactions with First Nations’ members, communities, Aboriginal leadership, and governance structures?”, “What are the impacts of the colonization process in terms of the lived experience of individual First Nation members?”, and “What are the impacts of the colonization process in terms of community life on reserve?”. With these questions in mind, interpretation of the stakeholder interviews resulted in three general themes including: the continued impact of historical and systemic issues on the wellbeing of youth, adults and entire communities; colonized identities, which stakeholders referred to as the internalization of colonization through experiences of othering, and the resulting loss of self-esteem, lack of sense of belonging, and disconnection from traditional culture; and continued oppression through contemporary institutional means, most notably the relationship of control that exists between First Nations communities and the federal government. This thesis concludes that colonialism and neocolonialism, or the processes of domination and control by one group over another, and the continued control of colonized groups, respectively, are still very prevalent within the lives of Aboriginal people, coming to effect their social environments, their lived realities, and the policies and discourses pertaining to them. The institutionalized racism that constituted the colonial process, and continuing neocolonialism, influences the policies, programming and relations regarding Aboriginal people. This control is solidified through the contriving of Aboriginal identity and governance: the federal government still has the ultimate control over legal Aboriginal identity through delegation of titles (such as status Indian or non-status Indian), and the rights and disadvantages associated with each title. Despite the establishment of Aboriginal self-government, community stakeholders and Elders shed light on ways First Nations people on BATC reserves are still answerable to the federal government while they continue to suffer marginality related to housing, employment, socioeconomics and racialization.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
Copyright DateJanuary 2015
neocolonialism, identity, self-governance, First Nations, Aboriginal, CBPR, postcolonial, anti-oppressive