Seeking a double understanding: constituting local First Nations governance
As we turn the corner into the new millennium we see the indigenous peoples of Canada move toward reclaiming their inherent rights. Having advanced their political status within the governing elites of the colonial governments, First Nations are striving to become self-determining. The research study that was conducted falls in line with the movements of the indigenous peoples. In an attempt to achieve a "Double Understanding", this study engaged in a research process that aimed to learn the traditional philosophies of one First Nation and build these understandings within a contemporary form of local governance. To achieve this purpose, the study sought the knowledge of those who are closest to the past, the Elders and those who were leading the First Nation at the time of the study. From the philosophical findings that resulted from their participation, and through a collaborative process with members of the First Nation, a local level constitution was developed specifically for their First Nation. To provide a background on the concepts associated with indigenous philosophy a literature review was conducted. Through the review, the study provided insight on the traditional philosophies of indigenous peoples, and the values they share in common. More specific to the Anishinabe people, the study provided insight on the philosophies that guided their way of life in traditional times. The literature review also provided explanation of research approaches that Aboriginal people consider legitimate. From this stance, discussion on the concept of "knowledge-keeper" was offered. The study also reviewed the historical events that have lead the movement of First Nations governance in Canada. Describing the events that unfolded in the evolution of First Nations governance, the study provided an overview of the historical relationship shared between the indigenous peoples and the colonial governments. As well, the study examined the contemporary options for First Nations self-government in Canada, from the comprehensive perspective to the narrowed view of local governance. The role of leaders in the development of local governance was also discussed. The research process that was conducted in this study evolved through a staged process. The staged process provided description of the study's evolution and provided explanation of the role of participants. Incorporating a collaborative course of action throughout its design, the study enabled members of the First Nation to become directly involved in the research process. By conducting the research from this stance, participants of the study acted not only to protect the integrity. of their community, but more significantly, to corroborate the trustworthiness of the research. As a result of the study's findings, a modem-day governance mechanism that the First Nation could utilize was developed. Designed specifically for the First Nation a community-based constitution that illustrated their external political position and provided internal principles for governance at the local level evolved. Therefore, the overall results of the study not only benefited the advancement of academic knowledge but also provided the First Nation with a tangible result that could ultimately advance their struggle for self-determination further. Recommendations for further development with the community itself were offered. As well, considerations on how to improve the research practice were cited. In addition, recommendations for further academic research were put forward.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)