Conflicting discourses in Canadian Aboriginal politics : a case study of the First Nations governance initiative
Early in 2001 the federal government launched the First Nations Governance Initiative (FNGI), the centre piece of which was a bill to amend the Indian Act. This thesis utilizes the events and discussions that surrounded the preparation of the bill as a case study of contemporary Canadian Aboriginal politics and international debates on Indigenous rights. The approach taken is inspired by postcolonial studies and discourse analysis. The goal is to explain the current "dialogue of the deaf" between the federal government and First Nations leadership in terms of "discursive" divergences. The debates around the FNGI can be classified into two conflicting discourses. The first advanced by the Department of Indian Affairs, with a neo-liberal type of discourse, the discourse of good governance which emphasizes bureaucratic values of efficiency, transparency, and accountability. The second, advanced by a group of Aboriginal leaders and activists, is a discourse of self-determination, centred around inherent rights and the unconditional affirmation of Aboriginal sovereignty. The thesis provides an analysis that contributes to the understanding of current blockages in governance and policy reforms involving the federal and the Aboriginal governments.
Canadian Aboriginal politics, Indian Act, constitutional law and reform, courts and the justice system
Master of Arts (M.A.)