How is it that the indigenous of Canada transpire into the minority and oppressed? Specifically, how are First Nations women vulnerable to multiple prejudices? What are the origins of prejudice & oppression experienced by First Nations women in Canada, how has this prejudice been maintained, what is its impact and how can it best be addressed?
Ever since the late 1400’s when the European discovered North America they brought along with them a practice of domination leaving the first nation people with very little rights forcing them to stand defenceless. Ever since the settlers arrived, the lives of the First Nation people have forever been damaged with the implementation of new ways of living. These changes have created an image of what First Nations people are prejudiced as. These prejudices have lead to stereotypes and even forms of discrimination and racism. Unfortunately, the majority of the beliefs are negative and have been widespread amongst non First Nations people. Some of the unfortunate cultural stereotypes that exist in today’s society are that First Nations people are; poor, uneducated, dirty, bad parents, and alcoholics. These beliefs and attitudes can all be rooted from practices that European settlers have indirectly instilled within Canada’s institutional procedure.
Systemic prejudice and oppression towards First Nations women can be best explained as the result of formal and informal colonial policies and so can be best addressed by changing the prejudiced individual. A chief illustration of prejudice that First Nations women experience is through the health care system. The health care system has and continues to; discriminate, execute racism as well as permits structured inequalities that only hinders First Nations women.
Health care is a direct reflection of the social, political, economic, and ideological relations that exist between patients and the dominant health care system (Browne and Fiske 2001). Internal colonial politics throughout the years has had a major influence on the dominant health care system in Canada; this has resulted in the marginalization of First Nations people. The colonial legacy of subordination of Aboriginal people has resulted in a multiple jeopardy for Aboriginal women who face individual and institutional discrimination, and disadvantages on the basis of race, gender, and class (Gerber, 1990; Dion Stout, 1996;Voyageur, 1996). This political reality is alive in the structural and institutional level but most importantly originated from the individual level that has affected the health care experience by First Nations women.
According to the 2006 Statistics Canada, First Nations people surpassed the one-million mark, reaching 1,172,790 (Stats Canada, 2006). As the population seems to increase, a linear relationship seems to arise with hopelessness in health. Therefore, as First Nations people population increase so is the disparity in health. In comparison to non- First Nations people, there seems to be a large gap with health care service. It use to be assumed that the reason why First Nations people try to avoid conventional health care and instead prefer using healing and spiritual methods. According to a survey conducted, Waldram (1990) found that urban First Nations people continue to utilize traditional healing practices while living in the city, particularly as a complement to contemporary health. This means that they do in fact use conventional health care but also take part in healing practices.
According to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, statistics showed that:
The life expectancy of registered Indian women was 6.9 years fewer than for women in the total population.
Mortality rates in were 10.5 per 1,000 compared to 6.5 for all women.
Unemployment rates in for women on reserve (26.1%) were more than 2.5 times higher than for non-Aboriginal women (9.9%), with overall unemployment on reserves...
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