RUS 1 Presentations

Session Title: Resilient Indigenous Communities in the Era of 21st Century Reconciliation

Organizers: Satenia Zimmermann/Jennifer Jarman

Chair: Satenia Zimmermann

Date: Tuesday, June 1st

Time: 9:00 am to 10:30 am (MT) 11:00 am to 12:30 pm  (ET)

Location: Virtual 1

Session Description:

This session contributes to the burgeoning sociological discussions on the complex intersection between Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and government reconciliation efforts. Presenters will highlight the diverse ways by which Indigenous communities in Arctic Canada, British Columbia, and northwestern Ontario are developing new strategies to adapt to the realities of the 21st Century. Presenters will discuss issues related to governance, health, natural resources management, economic development, land use, culture, self-determination, and free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC).

Abstracts in order of presentation:

Title: Trends in Poverty and Inequality in First Nations Communities in Canada (2006-2016)

Author: Sajjad Taghizadeh Imani

In spite of the adverse socio-economic conditions dominating the First Nations communities, the scope of poverty and income inequality in reserves remain relatively under-researched compared to the rest of Canada. This study aims to analyze the trends of poverty and inequality among the First Nations communities between 2006 and 2016, using data from the most recent Canadian census master files, including 2016 census, NHS 2011, and 2006 census. In so doing, we developed Low-Income Measures for each year that takes household composition into account. We measured the income inequality using the Gini coefficient and income quintile. Our results reveal that the poverty rates in First nation communities are almost three times that in Canada as a whole and this significant gap persists over time. There is also an increasing trend in income inequality between reserves and the rest of Canada. Furthermore, our analysis shows the widening of existing gaps through time. The same situation is observed between the Aboriginals and settlers living on reserve. Hence, there is a persistent poverty gap and an increasing income inequality inside the First Nations communities between 2006 and 2016. Through introducing a variable on the type of the treaties, we have documented a persistent poverty gap between the Aboriginals living in a historical treaty area and residents of modern treaty communities. Although there is an increase in inequality within the historic treaty communities, the modern treaty communities that have concluded Comprehensive Land Claims and Self-Government Agreements experience the lowest rates of poverty and a significant reduction in income inequality through the years.

Title: Working Towards Equitable Access to Treatment of Substance Use for Indigenous People: Indigenous Drug Policy

Author: Manjit Pabla

The harmful use of opioids and methamphetamines is a major public health concern amongst Canada’s First Nations people. Attributed to the generational impact of colonization, Indigenous people have coped with forced relocation, loss of land and family structure, and systemic racism due to economic, social, political and spiritual disenfranchisement through substance use. Consequently, one of the many lasting effects of colonization include persisting stigma and discrimination, impacts on the quality of life and wellbeing for First Nations individuals, families, communities and particularly those who use substances. There is a need for drug policy focused on creating greater equity for Indigenous peoples. Applying national and international policy recommendations that recognize First Nations history and context is a productive way to reframe the rights inherent to Indigenous peoples. A list of recommendations derived from findings of community-based projects by the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation will be thoroughly described. The recommendations include: 1) promoting culture as the foundation for safe programs and practices; 2) reducing stigma surrounding substance use resulting in inequitable care provided to Indigenous people; 3) improving the understanding of current realities related to drugs; 4) developing and promoting drug policies for Indigenous populations; and 5) and overcoming the challenges First Nations communities have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Premised on the notion of integrating First Nations cultures into treatment schemes, programming should improve the overall wellness of those recovering from addiction by providing opportunities for communities to self-govern the opioid and methamphetamine crisis. Therefore, this multifaceted and culture-focused approach is critical in recognizing the self-determination rights of Canada’s Indigenous people and developing strategies related to contemporary problems they faced.

Title: We Are Who (not What) We Eat: Understanding Indigenous Food Sovereignty as more than Juxtaposing Mechanical and Organic Solidarity

Author: Hanika Nakagawa

As a global Indigenous Amami woman, I examine Indigenous food sovereignty (IFS), referencing emerging arguments that Indigenous knowledges ensure human food security and survival in the climate emergency. Starting from Mayes’ (2018) claim that “the distraction of the central foundations of life of a national group themselves is genocide, meaning the eradication of Indigenous food as well as creating a dependency on European flour, sugar and alcohol, breaking down social frameworks as well as causing chronic illness, is genocide” (p.156), I first define IFS in relation to capitalism and to emergent themes of success and frustration in relation to community. Preindustrial (mechanical) and industrial (organic) societies, components of Durkheim’s “paradox of individualism” pose different challenges to human foodways. In order to live in accordance with IFS, Indigenous communities dedicate significant time to food procurement and production. Therefore, I compare the emerging themes from the articles to Durkheim’s framework for the paradox of individualism: “Why does the individual, while becoming more autonomous, depend more upon society?” (Durkheim, 1967;208). Citing examples from IFS, I suggest that living in the capitalist labour market system is more constricting than living within the ties to a community (often perceived as suffocating by individualist Westerners).

Title: Extractive Resource Development: What are Canada’s Arctic Communities Concerned About

Author: Chris Southcott

Over the past 20 years, Canada’s Arctic communities have faced an increased interest in extractive resource development in their region. These developments face a different environment from that of the Berger Inquiry of the 1970s. The presence of Modern Land Claim Agreements and other instruments of decolonization has reduced opposition to these projects, but concerns remain. This paper uses the new metadata sources of environmental assessment consultations and other sources to isolate the main concerns of Arctic communities surrounding these projects.

Title: Reclaiming First Nations’ Lands and Forests: A Northern Ontario Case Study

Author: Satenia Zimmermann

Throughout the 21stcentury federal, provincial and territorial courts have increasingly ruled in favour of First Nations who have sought the courts’ assistance in their fight to protect their traditional lands and natural resources. As a result, governments, corporations and ENGOs have been forced to amend legislation, policies, and practices related to natural resource management. First Nations have responded by implementing their own local land and resource management policies, establishing Indigenous-owned businesses and forging new partnerships with corporations and ENGOs. Ontario is no exception. First Nations, who a decade ago existed on the periphery of the forest sector, are now key players in sustainable forest management. This paper examines the role of the NawiinginokimaForest Management Corporation (NFMC), the first provincially owned Local Forest Management Corporation established in 2014 under the Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act, 2011, to ensure local First Nations’ involvement in sustainable forest management. Using semi-structured interviews, a northern Ontario case study was developed with information gathered from representatives from BiigtigongNishnaabegFirst Nation, NetmizaaggamigNishnaabegFirst Nation, NFMC, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, industry, ENGOs, and consultants. Participants discuss First Nations’ involvement in the development of the NFMC; the impact the NFMC has had on local First Nations; Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on the Big Pic, Pic River, and White River forests; the implications of obtaining free, prior and informed consent in forestry; the role of First Nations in forest management planning; and the ways in which Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation and Netmizaaggamig Nishnaabeg First Nation are reclaiming their lands and resources through sustainable forest management.