Intercultural friendship relationships among women: lessons from the Grandmothers
Morrison, Kim Ann
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Women of the "Intercultural Grandmothers Uniting" (IGU) group draw on the gendered identity "grandmother" to build bridges of understanding, respect, and friendship across boundaries of race and generation. This thesis examines important intersections of gender, race, class, age and cultural and family identity through an examination of elderly women's friendships within a network of Saskatchewan First Nations, Metis, and other Canadian older women. Historically, many women belonging to these groups have lived side by side without ever interacting. Building relationships among the groups is of increasing importance given Saskatchewan's aging population, the growth of Aboriginal populations and migration to urban centres. An oral historical approach draws on the life experiences often IOU members and two coordinators to provide insights about specific social institutions and cultural processes that act to facilitate or hinder friendships among women. The connectivity between intercultural friendship relationships and perceived ability to engage in social activism is also examined and found to operate synergistically. The results of this study show that the Grandmothers build upon the common ground of "grandmotherhood" to bridge differences in cultural identities while at the same time cultural identities are maintained and prioritized. Operating within broader social ideologies that characterize such categories as mutually exclusive and segregated, it is paradoxical that the Grandmothers simultaneously occupy a categorical identity space and highlight the interconnectedness of the categories through their friendship.