Aboriginal child welfare in British Columbia and unequal power relations: A critical discourse analysis

Authors

  • Travis Holyk University of Northern BC
  • Henry G. Harder University of Northern BC

Keywords:

First Nations, Aboriginal, discourse, child welfare policy, power

Abstract

This is a paper about unequal power relations in Aboriginal child welfare in British Columbia. We analyze a number of rhetorical devices used by the Representative for Children and Youth in her report When Talk Trumped Service: A Decade of Lost Opportunity for Aboriginal Children and Youth in B.C.  We include language, financial numbers, charts and graphs that reinforce domination of Aboriginal peoples and potentially undermine the efforts of Aboriginal people’s toward self-determination in child welfare. The paper provides examples of how power manifests itself through language, reinforcing historically negative stereotypes that are then supported in the media. We conclude that such reports reflect a colonial legacy that continues to inform relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples, and if not critically assessed will significantly impact Aboriginal Child Welfare policy, funding and practice decisions.

 

La protection des enfants autochtones en Colombie-Britannique et les rapports de force inégaux : une analyse du discours critique.

 Résumé

 Cet article examine les rapports de force inégaux qui sont manifestés à travers la politique de la protection des enfants autochtones, en Colombie-Britannique. Nous faisons analyse de nombres de divers procédés de rhétorique utilisés par la représentante des enfants et des adolescents de la Colombie-Britannique dans son rapport, WhenTalk Trumped Service: A Decade of Lost Opportunity for Aboriginal Children and Youth in B.C. Nous incluons dans cette analyse le langage, les données financières, les tableaux et les graphiques, qui renforcent la domination des peuples autochtones, et qui, potentiellement, sapent les efforts des peuples autochtones à s’autodéterminer en matière de protection de l’enfance. Cet article fournit des exemples des manifestations du pouvoir à travers le langage, réifiant des stéréotypes négatives historiquement associés aux autochtones, et qui se retrouvent répétés de nouveau et promus à travers les médias. Nous concluons que des rapports tel celui-ci reflète un héritage colonial qui continue d’influencer les relations entre autochtones et non-autochtones. S’ils ne sont pas évalués de manière critique, ceux-ci continueront d’influencer négativement les politiques, les practices et les décisions des politiques de protection de l’enfance autochtone.

Mots Clefs : Premières Nations; autochtones; discours; politique de protection à l’enfance; pouvoir

Author Biographies

Travis Holyk, University of Northern BC

Dr. Travis Holyk is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Northern British Columbia. He is also a trained Child Protection Mediator who has been on the BC Child Protection Mediation Program Roster since 2008. Travis is the Director of Research and Policy Development for Carrier Sekani Family Services, an organization responsible for health, social and legal services for 11 First Nations in Northern BC.

Henry G. Harder, University of Northern BC

Dr. Henry G. Harder is a Professor in the School of Health Sciences and holds the Dr. Donald B. Rix BC Leadership Chair in Aboriginal Environmental Health Research.

Published

2016-03-14

How to Cite

Holyk, T., & Harder, H. G. (2016). Aboriginal child welfare in British Columbia and unequal power relations: A critical discourse analysis. Canadian Review of Social Policy / Revue Canadienne De Politique Sociale, (74). Retrieved from https://crsp.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/crsp/article/view/37946

Issue

Section

Articles