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Towards Constructive Change in Aboriginal Communities

Towards Constructive Change in Aboriginal Communities: A Social Psychology Perspective

Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Towards Constructive Change in Aboriginal Communities
    Book Description:

    The widespread failure of so many interventions in First Nations and Inuit communities across Canada requires an explanation. Applying the theoretical and methodological rigour of experimental social psychology to genuine community-based constructive change, Donald Taylor and Roxane de la Sablonnière outline new ways of addressing the challenges that Aboriginal leaders are vocalizing publicly. To date, the decolonization process in Canada has led to programs that focus on the struggling individual. However, colonization was and still is a collective process and thus requires collective solutions. Rooted in years of research, teaching, and experience in First Nations and Inuit communities, the authors offer necessary solutions. They contend that survey research can be uniquely applied as a means to initiate constructive community change, demonstrating how their intervention process uses such research to foster positive social norms by feeding the results back to the community. Ultimately, Towards Constructive Change in Aboriginal Communities outlines how field research can be used to give a voice to First Nations and Inuit community members and serve as a platform for constructive social change.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9657-3
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 Aboriginal People and the Canadian Psyche
    (pp. 3-27)

    Canada is defined by two unique environments: its vast and varied physical environment and its equally varied human environment. The physical environment serves as a constant backdrop to Canada’s human environment, which revolves around bilingualism, biculturalism, multiculturalism, and Aboriginal peoples – First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. The politics of biculturalism and multiculturalism are ever-present, ebbing and flowing, oscillating between pride and tension. Aboriginal peoples constitute only a fraction of the Canadian population, many living on remote reserves and in isolated communities, and yet they have, are, and will be essential to the definition of Canada. Moreover, the impact of Aboriginal...

  6. 2 Aboriginal Voices, Cultural Diversity, and Aboriginal Resilience
    (pp. 28-40)

    In this chapter we address three fundamental issues that are ever-present but rarely openly discussed when Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals sit together and focus on important topics. The first concerns the balance of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal voices in discussions of any substance. In this day and age, it would seem that there are few undertakings more presumptuous than two non-Aboriginal Canadians contributing to the legacy of colonialism by writing a book on Aboriginal peoples in Canada. So why do it?

    The second issue concerns categorizing all Aboriginal people under the umbrella term “Aboriginal.” Why not distinguish and respect cultural differences by...

  7. 3 Colonialism’s Legacy: A Litany of Community Challenges
    (pp. 41-70)

    Our goal for this chapter, which is to describe the breadth and depth of the challenges confronting Aboriginal communities, might seem straightforward, but its achievement is fraught with complexity. This necessitates a lengthy preamble before we touch upon any actual statistics. We must go beyond these statistics to show how even they, bleak as they are, consistently underestimate the Aboriginal reality. And we must document the long list of failed interventions.

    The more difficult part of the journey involves balancing the need to document the challenges facing Aboriginal communities without playing into and exacerbating the already negative stereotype that non-Aboriginal...

  8. 4 Collective Self-Control: Towards an Understanding of Community Challenges
    (pp. 71-84)

    Our review, in Chapter 3, of the challenges that Aboriginal leaders and community members are voicing can’t help but provoke a number of feelings, ranging from sadness and sympathy to guilt, anger, and helplessness. One inescapable reaction is to simply feel “overwhelmed” – overwhelmed by the sheer number of challenges and by the magnitude of each issue. Feeling overwhelmed brings with it a sense of paralysis, and, if we are to move forward in a constructive manner, we need to begin by bringing some order to the litany of challenges identified.

    So, how are we to organize our thinking about...

  9. 5 Cultural Identity Vacuum: The Real Impact of Colonialism
    (pp. 85-111)

    If colonialism is the shared experience that has given rise to the phenomenon of collective self-control challenges, we need to address a series of fundamental questions. How does colonialism affect Aboriginal people? Why does its impact last for generations? What is the precise link with collective self-control?

    The key words in our fundamental questions are “how,” “why” and “precise.” These are key words because there is a broad consensus among Aboriginal people, scholars, policy makers, and the general public that colonialism was, and is, the root cause of Aboriginal disadvantage. However, beyond appreciating that colonialism is a process with negative...

  10. 6 The Normative Structure of Aboriginal Communities: When 80–20 Becomes 20–80
    (pp. 112-135)

    Aboriginal communities have, and are, confronting an array of social, medical, academic, and economic issues all of which revolve around collective self-control. Communities, in their long-term battle, have reached the point at which they are crying out for help. It is frustrating when those who might be positioned to help appear to be ignoring the plight of these communities. But perhaps even more frustrating, and ultimately more psychologically damaging, is living through cycles of rising expectations only to have intervention after intervention fail. Interventions can be massive, well-intentioned, welcomed, and fully funded, and yet they appear to have no constructive...

  11. 7 Towards Constructive Social Change in Aboriginal Communities: Minority Influence
    (pp. 136-158)

    It has taken six chapters to document our theory regarding the challenges confronting Aboriginal communities. It has been a depressing journey. From colonization to collective self-control, a cultural identity vacuum and a 20–80 normative structure, it has become abundantly clear why over one hundred years of well- and not so well-intentioned interventions have fallen short. At this point, constructive change might look to be as difficult as trying to make a river flow back up a mountain.

    We embarked on this journey with a simple philosophy: any strategy for constructive social change requires, first and foremost,understandingthe root...

  12. 8 Zero Tolerance
    (pp. 159-179)

    Our analysis of minority influence is designed to mobilize community action towards clearly defining a new, constructive set of values, long-term goals, and normative behaviours. If minority mobilization is to have any hope of success, it must have a well-articulated implementation plan to change the existing behavioural norms.

    In normal circumstances, how does a community, institution, organization, or any group deal with behaviour that is inappropriate? They punish it. Arrive late for school, you get a detention. Get caught using drugs, you might get suspended. Engage in bullying and authorities and parents may rally to offer counselling. Acts of violence...

  13. 9 Survey Research as a Vehicle for Constructive Community Change
    (pp. 180-200)

    The minute you set foot in an Aboriginal community these days, you feel an inescapable optimistic, mission-oriented vibe. The decolonization process is in full swing everywhere, but especially in the field of education. Aboriginal communities are retaking ownership of an institution that has long been the symbol of colonialism – the school, that large structure that, both literally and figuratively, dominates the community landscape.

    Gone are the days when non-Aboriginal curricula, teachers, schedules, and standards defined every detail of the school experience. Aboriginal input, from process to content, is making a tangible difference. The call for a more culturally relevant...

  14. 10 Towards Constructive Change in Aboriginal Communities: From Theory to Implementation
    (pp. 201-224)

    In this the final chapter, we attempt to review our analysis of the challenges confronting Aboriginal communities, which led logically to a whole new approach to generating effective solutions. Our review is especially important because we have introduced a large number of inter-related concepts that only when woven together point the way to solutions that can offer a degree of optimism.

    In order to guide our review of the different concepts we have described in detail over the past eight chapters, we offer a schematic representation of them and the links between them. We review each of the boxes in...

  15. References
    (pp. 225-244)
  16. Index
    (pp. 245-252)