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Patriarchy and Paternalism: The Legacy of the Canadian State for First Nations Women

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... Altamirano-Jiménez (2009), Emberley (1990-1991, 1996, 2001), Monture-Angus (1995), Moreton-Robinson (2009), Smith (2007), and Turpel (1993) are a few of the Indigenous scholars that have shaped my articulation of a First Nations feminist theory. Because Indigenous groups differ greatly (TallBear, 2002), individual articulations of First Nations feminist theory also vary. ...
... Because Indigenous groups differ greatly (TallBear, 2002), individual articulations of First Nations feminist theory also vary. In North America, Abbott Mihesuah (2003), Chiste (1994), Emberley (1990-1991, 1996, 2001), Monture-Angus (1995), Smith (2005, 2007), and Turpel (1993) are prominent Indigenous feminist scholars whose work resonates with First Nations' ways-of-knowing. Each of these scholars contributed to my understanding and articulation of a First Nations feminist theory that is useful for my research needs. ...
... The foremost activity of First Nations feminist scholars is to expose the Indian Act's (1876) negative influence on the First Nations women, families, and communities (Emberley, 1996; Monture-Angus, 1995; Turpel, 1993). Through an investigation of the ...
Article
A Canadian policy requires the routine evacuation of pregnant First Nations women who live on-reserve in rural and remote regions to larger centres to gain access to perinatal services. Despite this access, First Nations women's health remains poor and the First Nations infant mortality rate remains high. In this paper, we employ First Nations feminist theory to understand why the evacuation policy does not result in good health, especially for First Nations women. Four themes emerge: decolonization, self-determination, land, and community. Based on these results, we argue that First Nations' concepts of health are largely incongruent with the Euro-Canadian bio-medical model, a model that is foundational to the evacuation policy. Until health policies incorporate and are congruent with First Nations' epistemologies and related health practices, their health will continue to suffer. Policy recommendations are offered to promote First Nations health in a way that is consistent with First Nations' epistemologies.
... However, it is not an easy fit for Aboriginal women, and there are different perceptions of whether gender equality should be sought in the work force where Aboriginal women are present. Turpel-Lafond (1997) examined the Royal Commission on the Status of Women's mandate to "inquire into the status of women in Canada to ensure for women equal opportunities with men in all aspects of Canadian society." The goal of equality with White men, she suggested, creates a concept of gender equality that denies Aboriginal experiences and is conceptually and culturally inappropriate for First Nations women. ...
... She notes that in the Cree community, women are at the centre and men traditionally have a responsibility to be women's helpers. Responsibility to the people is the central organizing principle of the community, not equality (Turpel-Lafond 1997). ...
... The focus on Indigenous women is important because the intimate connection between the health of environments and the health of Indigenous peoples is most salient in the case of Indigenous women. More specifically, I explore how the principle of affected interest is activated by the potential impact of resource extraction and industrial development on the cultural and reproductive well-being of Indigenous women (Turpel, 1993). My central argument here is that to the extent that Indigenous women are disproportionately and gravely affected by decisions involving land and water, a commitment to democratic principles requires that their consent be recognized as having priority over lesser claims, such as those based on mere property interest. ...
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Canadian governments increasingly invoke principles of mutual consent as central to the goal of including Indigenous peoples in decisions that effect them. However, despite particular Indigenous interpretations of consent, such as standards of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), Canada continues to interpret its obligations according to the Crown’s narrow fiduciary obligation to consult and accommodate Indigenous peoples on the infringement of rights. I argue that upholding Canada’s commitments to democratic inclusion as well as its fiduciary obligations requires recognition of a much higher standard of consent. One reason for this is that certain rights to land should be considered inalienable insofar as they are necessary for the physical health and cultural well-being of those who are most affected by decision, Indigenous women. To accept constellation and mere assent as sufficient is to violate basic democratic norms as well as the common law doctrine of unconscionability.
... Indigenous feminist scholars recognize the vulnerability of Indigenous women in particular communities and in particular situations, but ascribe disparities in the power accorded men and women in indigenous cultures to the infl uence of Western beliefs (Kafarowski 2002;McIvor 1999;Turpel-Lafond 1997). Thus, the protection and empowerment of women in Indigenous communities would not hinge upon the enforcement of Western individualist liberal rights specifi cally for women, but rather a restoration of the Indigenous decision-making processes and political institutions that have been undermined by constant colonial interference (Alfred 1999). ...
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In this paper, we explore how the concept of human security, which was developed primarily to assess and ameliorate dramatic challenges to life and livelihood in the 'Third World,' might be applied to an examina- tion of aspects of political participation of women in the Nunavut, Canada. We start with the assumption that functioning and appropriate political systems and institutions are fundamental to human security; and, that legitimate and eff ective Indigenous representation and the creation of political institutions appropriate to Indigenous peoples' senses of identity, community and culture are essential to Indigenous individuals' and communities' well being. First, we explore briefl y the vocabulary of rights active in the Canadian North and hypothesize the ways in which human security might be a useful way of thinking through the rigid juxtaposition of individual versus col- lective rights that so o# en characterizes discussions of Indigenous women's rights. Subsequently, we present a specifi c case study of failed institutional reform de- signed to ensure the participation of Inuit women in formal politics in Nunavut. Throughout, we examine how the concept of human security can contribute to thinking about the issues of political participation and the appropriateness of political institutions.
... Therefore, for women who do not perceive their society to be patriarchal, or do not believe they experience oppression from a patriarchal society, feminism is considered irrelevant . This is the case for some indigenous women, who argue that male domination is not universal (Turpel 1993;Monture-Angus 1995). Further, as Monture-Angus (1995) attests, accepting the western idea of 'equality' would mean accepting a lower position than what has historically been accorded to women in her culture. ...
... This concern is illuminated over and over again in debates about liberal equality and cultural difference when subjugated groups express frustration with the limited and biased manner in which the principle of liberal equality is manifest in practice. For instance, when Indigenous people argue that, liberal equality 'is simply not the central organizing political principle of our communities' (Turpel-Lafond, 1997, p. 68) they could be claiming that their cultural values do not include the value of equality and that equality is thereby 'culturally relative' as a political value, or, more plausibly, they could be claiming that the values they associate with equality -e.g. contributing to community, taking on family responsibilities, sharing with others -get short shrift in the liberal conception, which they reject. ...
Chapter
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Over the past several years, studies have shown that public decisionmakers in multicultural states sometimes essentialise the identities of cultural and religious minorities (Volpp, 2000; Renteln, 2005; Phillips, 2007; Song, 2007). In some cases, judges and legislators appear to be in the grip of cultural, racial and gendered biases that distort their decisions in ways that stereotype groups. States that adopt multicultural policies exacerbate these tendencies by providing incentives for citizens to use their cultural and religious identities strategically by exaggerating the importance or uniformity of a particular practice or belief in order to secure concessions from the state. In what is by now an extensive scholarship about the risks associated with decision making in multicultural contexts, several critics have proposed alternative approaches to responding to cultural diversity which specifically address the problem of essentialism. This chapter examines three alter-native approaches, each of which aims at avoiding essentialism. The first approach avoids essentialism by favouring individual self-identification over collective identity markers to establish the importance of a practice or tradition to an individual’s identity; the second approach asks that individual equality rather than cultural difference is the focus of protection; and the third approach situates minority rights in a framework of collective self-determination rather than cultural accommodation.
... At the same time that it provided a limited range of policy solutions, the category "women" was already fragmented as evident in assimilating groups, communities and minorities to a dominant national ideology without permitting them to be heard and their specific complains acknowledged in their own terms. This method of proceeding perpetuated epistemic and cultural violence denying them the respect due to dissenting viewpoints on the margins of a dominant way of life (Williams 1990;Monture-Okanee 1992;Turpel-Lafond 1997). ...
Article
The Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women remains a "landmark" report in the 40 years since its publication (Canada 2006, 21; SWC 1995). The document has figured as a "watershed" for the public perception of women"s place in Canadian society (Bird 1974, 316; Burt, Code and Dorney 1993, 159-160; Paltiel 1997, 27). Described as the first "success" of second wave feminism (Black 1988, 26; Prentice, Bourne and Brandt 1996, 414, 416; Timpson 2001, 26), this marker event has been regarded as the "blueprint" for the second wave of the nation-wide women"s movements across Canada and to a lesser extent in Quebec (Kome 1985, 87-8; Vickers, Rankin and Appelle 1993, 26). A liberal feminist document embodying the dominant ideology (Adamson, Briskin and McPhail 1988, 12; Speers 2001) this public face has been examined critically from various standpoints from its point of origin (Dixon 1971; Findlay 1993; Sangster forthcoming; Farsoun and Mann 1974). It became a foundational document in Women"s Studies read by several generations of activists and academics (Eichler 2002; Andersen 1972, 1-3). It also Report also laid groundwork for the emergence of Women and Politics as a subfield in Canadian political science (Bashevkin 1985, 28; Brodie 1985). Yet scholarship about the RCSW has continued to rely almost exclusively over the past 40 years on the reflections and recollections of two of its chief participants, the Chairman and the Executive Secretary, for authoritative accounts of what happened (Bird 1997, 1990, 1974; Begin 2001, 1992, 1988, 1977), without exploring the Commission"s own documentation. Third parties have accepted the interpretations of interested parties without recourse to original sources. This lack of scholarly scrutiny suggests one compelling reason for thinking more about the RCSW remains to be learned than has been reported in the literature. Despite the Report's having remained a milestone against which women"s equality has been measure in the last half century, its relevance today shifts the inquiry to different questions than has been asked before. Does the false universalism of "Canadian women" irreparably taint what the Commission produced? Is the Report an early example 1 The title comes from a newspaper article by journalist Antony Westell announcing the tabling of the RCSW Report barely two months after a declaration of a state of "apprehended insurrection" used to justify use of the War Measures Act in mid-October when it had appeared that national security was under threate from domestic enemies. Women had previously been regarded as one such potential enemy, a fear put to rest by the document"s moderate tone. The Report had its own formidable source of power nonetheless.
... Overlapping the first wave of resistance literature (see Green, 1992, andTurpel, 1993), what Mohawk intellectual Audra Simpson (2014, p. 196) describes as the "second wave" of Indigenous women's writing emerged in the 1990s. New voices emphasize Indigenous women's diversity against homogenizing and dehumanizing stereotypes. ...
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In this article, I review contemporary Indigenous women’s scholarship, describing transformations from 1985 to the present, first to characterize this scholarship on its own terms and second to situate this literature with respect to recent, nascent dialogues with anti-racist feminisms. What is the focus and range of Indigenous women’s scholarship, from 1985 until today? What does this work seek to do, that is, what are the intertwined political and scholarly aims of this scholarship? I suggest that Indigenous women’s scholarly writing is concerned with resilience, or survival, resistanceor challenges to colonial power and relationships, and resurgence, or a turning-inward to renew Indigenous knowledges and practices. In the discussion, I briefly consider how the increasingly rich and diverse field of Indigenous women’s theorizing and praxis informs an emerging dialogue with anti-racist feminist scholars within the academy and in the broader context of colonial Canada.
... Western feminism has often aimed to advance equality for women. Yet, many Indigenous societies were traditionally matriarchal, and as such, equality is not always seen as a useful organizing principle for Indigenous women (Green 2007;Turpel 1993). While Indigenous feminism can take many forms, Indigenous feminism can be understood as a political project that seeks pathways to liberation that attend to Indigenous women, especially those women excluded from their communities through colonial legislation (Green 2007). ...
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A Canadian policy requires the routine evacuation of pregnant First Nations women who live on- reserve in rural and remote regions to larger centres to gain access to perinatal services. Despite this access, First Nations women’s health remains poor and the First Nations infant mortality rate remains high. In this paper, we employ First Nations feminist theory to understand why the evacuation policy does not result in good health, especially for First Nations women. Four themes emerge: decolonization, self-determination, land, and community. Based on these results, we argue that First Nations’ concepts of health are largely incongruent with the Euro-Canadian bio-medical model, a model that is foundational to the evacuation policy. Until health policies incorporate and are congruent with First Nations’ epistemologies and related health practices, their health will continue to suffer. Policy recommendations are offered to promote First Nations health in a way that is consistent with First Nations’ epistemologies.
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In this thesis I will examine the role values play in the co-production of knowledge between traditional knowledge and science. In order to understand the role values play, I will first develop clearer definitions of traditional knowledge, science, and co-production than the problematic definitions currently employed in the literature. I will also create new terms to replace the inadequate terms currently in use. “Traditional knowledge” will become “Indigenous peoples’ understandings” (IPUs), and science will become “scientific understandings” (SUs). I will show that values that underlie the concepts of IPUs and SUs are compatible, allowing co-production between the two groups to occur. The definitions of IPUs and SUs will then be held as a standard by which co- production projects can be measured. I will examine several benefits co-production projects offer, and deal with problems posed by co-production. Finally, I will briefly outline problems with current policy governing co-production in Canada.
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