Understanding the Impact of Self- Determination on Communities in Crisis

  • Kiera L. Ladner Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Politics & Governance University of Manitoba
Keywords: Self-determination, cultural continuity, Indian Act, political renewal


Canada is struggling to recast its relationship with Aboriginal peoples in response to massive disparities, mounting resentment, and emerging political realities. The interplay of racism, paternalism and disempowerment has inflicted a serious toll in terms of social, health, economic, and cultural costs. Many Aboriginal people have lost their language and identity, and this spiritual loss is compounded by skyrocketing rates of alcoholism, substance abuse, domestic violence, suicide, diabetes, and heart disease. The need for structural change is broadly acknowledged by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders alike, but they disagree on how to hasten this transformation from colonial subjects to self-determining peoples. Central to most proposals for restructuring is establishing Aboriginal self-government as a basis for healing (Fleras, 1996, p.122).