Toronto Metropolitan University
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Structural racism and Indigenous Health: A critical reflection of Canada and Finland

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posted on 2024-03-07, 17:19 authored by Sandra JuutilainenSandra Juutilainen

The purpose of the study was to broaden understanding of structural racism by examining the relationships between Indigenous peoples and nation-states in the context of education and how this affects Indigenous lives. This thesis delves into understanding both the theoretical and methodological contributions that more critical analyses can have on: the role of de-colonial approaches to Indigenous health research methodologies so that the most urgent health inequities are addressed through more rigorous and Indigenous specific research processes; and to improve our understanding of the complex interactions that historical and contemporary legacies of residential schools and boarding schools have on the health and well-being of Indigenous populations in Canada and Finland. 

The research design was a qualitative multiple case study informed by a public health critical race praxis. The study was completed in two phases; consisting of a literature study using content analysis of Indigenous research ethics protocols and policies, in Canada and the Nordic countries; and, three case studies developed from open ended questions from structured interview research comparing discriminatory experiences and its impact on self-perceived health with participants from Six Nations of the Grand River, Canada (n = 25) and the Sámi in Inari, Finland (n = 20); and their family members. The case studies were analyzed using both Western and Indigenous methodologies. 

Results of Phase one shows how Indigenous resistance to colonial structures within academia in Canada and Finland has resulted in dialogical processes to create an ethical space for working between the differing worldviews of academia and Indigenous communities with the aim to produce ethically valid knowledge. Phase two results shows that regardless of contextual differences of the experiences in Canada and Finland, the main parallel outcomes are similar, i.e. the teachings of shame received in these educational environments. This produces both vulnerabilities and resiliencies and the negative effects of shame require an ongoing healing journey for both individuals and their families and communities at large. 

Conclusion: For a more in depth understanding of structural racism and its influence on Indigenous health, investigations require methodological choices by both Western and Indigenous methodologies.




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