Out in the Open: Elected Female Leadership in Canada's First Nations Community (Report) by Canadian Review of Sociology

Out in the Open: Elected Female Leadership in Canada's First Nations Community (Report)

By Canadian Review of Sociology

  • Release Date: 2011-02-01
  • Category: Social Science

Brief Description

EUROCENTRIC IDEOLOGIES LOOMED LARGE IN EARLY colonial Canadian society. Notions of liberalism, private land ownership, human control over nature, individualism, and western-European superiority over colonized indigenous people were foundational to the creation of the Canadian state and the Canadian ethos (Voyageur and Calliou 2007). Canada's founding principles clashed with those of the First Nations (1) whose beliefs included: collectivism, communal ownership of land, living in harmony with nature, and equality. As First Nations people became increasingly governed and legislated under the new colonial regime they were slowly stripped of their social, political, religious, and economic rights in Canadian society and soon found themselves in a subordinate position vis-a-vis mainstream Canadians. The imposed law, formalized as the patriarchal Indian Act (Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development 1876), was amalgamated shortly after Confederation (2) when all the legislation regarding Indians was consolidated under one statute. (3) The Indian Act was particularly harsh for First Nations women who soon realized that much of the status, power, and authority they had enjoyed in their community before European contact had been lost. They were removed from positions of respect and high status within their own communities; and viewed as mere chattels of their husbands or fathers under Canadian law in mainstream society. Indeed, First Nations women were doubly subordinated; first, as First Nations people in a new social order that deprived them of their rights; and second, as women who were deemed inferior both to Indian and mainstream men.

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