Colonialism’s Impact upon the Health of Métis Elderly: History, Oppression, Identity and Consequences

Desmarais, Diedre Alexandria
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

In this dissertation I examine colonialism through the theoretical lens of racialized power relations. I consider the identity regulation imposed upon Aboriginal peoples and extrapolate the impact of colonialism on the health of a sample of elderly Métis. Health, care and access to services are vital social indicators in any society. The traumas of colonialism can be measured by the health of colonized people. I focus on the Métis elderly because our elders are the most revered members of Aboriginal society and they have been impacted by colonization the longest. Unlike status Indians, the federal government does not have a legislative relationship with Metis nor does it accept responsibility for Métis health. Métis have the same access to health care and services as the general public available via provincial policy. However, racism and poverty militate against the Metis being treated as other citizens. Colonialism has affected all aboriginal peoples negatively, evidence for which can be found in every Aboriginal community across Canada. It is spelled out clearly in the dire socio-economic statistics that characterize Aboriginal communities. I argue that Aboriginal peoples were colonized in the name of empire with the intent of claiming Aboriginal territory and resources; control of Aboriginal peoples was maintained through identity regulation, which artificially divided Canadian Aboriginal peoples into three distinct cohorts with differing claims to rights and recognition from the Canadian state; and these artificial divisions facilitated inequitable rights and policy among Aboriginal peoples, creating the conditions for unequal power relations, competition and racism. The Results include the perilous health care and health conditions of Metis elders, and the poisoned context for all Metis in Canada.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For The Degree of Special Case Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science University of Regina. v, 187 l.