Gendered Aboriginal-Immigrant-White Relations in the Canadian North: College Faculty Perspectives

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Linda MUZZIN, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada
Literature on the Canadian North, where several land claim agreements have been settled in the past few decades, is typically written from a patriarchal neoliberal economic development perspective that valorizes Aboriginal peoples who have made “progress” in successful industrial ventures as well as encouraging new Canadians to move to and work in the North. In sharp contrast, in a study of public colleges that included interior British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Labrador, it was discovered that several colleges have made it their goal to enshrine Indigenous knowledges (IK) in their curricula. What does it mean to grow up female and Aboriginal in such societies? Questions of gender and inter-ethnic relations examined by Cynthia Joseph in her study of Malaysia, are explored here from the perspective of faculty in Canadian colleges where the surrounding population is predominantly Aboriginal. There is a contradiction between the work and lives of those who teach literacy, early childhood education, nursing and self-determination from Aboriginal perspectives as compared to those who teach technology, trades, and business, oriented towards exploitation of local resources. Personal stories that involve celebration of Elder involvement in Canadian military service, White authorities attempting to remove children from Aboriginal families, and the challenges of engaging Aboriginal youth in literacy and IK education intrude on stories of Aboriginal communities caring for new immigrant families who have migrated to the north and who are eagerly involved in participating in Aboriginal activities. There has been a strong feminist standpoint in postcolonial studies of development historically, and this paper follows in this tradition, emphasizing the contradictions evident from the multiple perspectives present as compared to racist multiculturalist approach of colleges in southern parts of Canada.