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Race, Ethnicity, Indigenous Peoples and Politics

L05(b) - Race, Indigeneity, Political Institutions, and Public Policies

Date: Jun 4 | Time: 01:30pm to 03:00pm | Location: SWING 407

Chair/Président/Présidente : Kate Korycki (Queen's University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Kate Korycki (Queen's University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Suzanne Hindmarch (University of New Brunswick)

Streams of Equity: Investigating Avenues for Provincial Policy Change on Issues of Racial Health Equity: Tari Ajadi (Dalhousie University)
Abstract: There has been minimal progress on issues of racial health equity in Canada, despite public health studies that show the inequitable distribution of poor health outcomes for racialized minorities (Gagné & Veenstra, 2017; Kisely, Terashima, & Langille, 2008; Siddiqi, Shahidi, Ramraj, & Williams, 2017). African-Canadians are disproportionately exposed to social, economic, and environmental factors that promote ill health. Democratic racism, defined by Henry et al. as values of justice, equality and fairness conflicting but coexisting with differential treatment and discrimination against racialized minorities, undermines notions of Canada as a country largely free of racism (2009). This discursive dissonance prompts the question: What are the most viable ‘streams’ for policy progress on issues of racial health equity? My paper argues that nationwide discourses of democratic racism, entrenched by a history of structural racism, may prevent proposals aimed at addressing racial health inequities from reaching provincial health policy agendas. It will combine discursive and historical institutionalism with multiple-streams approaches to demonstrate the contextual factors that produce the current policy environment. I aim to demonstrate the best available avenues for policy entrepreneurs and advocacy coalitions to make progress on equity-oriented health initiatives. The goals of my research are to foster an extensive and informed conversation about the ongoing, but often unseen, health inequities that racialized peoples in Canada face.


The Inescapability of Reconciliation: Indigenous People and Criminal Justice in Canada: Teddy Harrison (University of Toronto)
Abstract: A series of crises in Canadian criminal justice threaten the legitimacy of the criminal justice system for indigenous people. The epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women, chronic over-incarceration of indigenous people, and underrepresentation on juries are symptoms of a broader crisis of legitimacy. This had led to calls, including from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, to establish a separate system of justice under the control of indigenous people, as is the case in the United States. This paper draws on empirical political science and political theory to argue that a separate criminal justice system could address some of these problems but could not restore the legitimacy of the practice of criminal justice. Because the lives of indigenous and non-indigenous people are inextricably intertwined in Canada, many individuals would be caught up in the “other” system. If each system operates solely according to its own principles, this will only exacerbate the mutual perception of illegitimacy. Some reconciliation of indigenous and non-indigenous approaches to criminal justice is thus required within a single system of justice, if we are to establish practices of justice that can be endorsed as legitimate by both indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.


Strengthening Impact Assessments for Indigenous Women: Leah Levac (University of Guelph), Susan Manning (Dalhousie University), Patricia Nash (Independent Researcher), Jane Stinson (Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women)
Abstract: In 2018, the federal government introduced new legislation (Bills C-68 and C-69) which aims to better protect the environment and rebuild public trust in resource development decisions, while growing the economy and reaffirming the commitment to Nation to Nation partnerships (Government of Canada, 2018). The proposed Impact Assessment Act (IAA) will expand the scope of impact assessment from primarily biophysical concerns to include impacts on health and socio-economic conditions for all people, with special attention to be paid to gender, intersectionality, and Indigenous Peoples. This is a critical expansion given what we know about the broad and largely negative socioeconomic, health, and cultural impacts of resource development on northern and Indigenous women (Manning et al., 2018). Despite these stated commitments, many questions remain, including the extent to which the new legislation will honour the principle of free, prior and informed consent (Pasternak & King, 2018), and create meaningful opportunities for Indigenous women’s participation. Drawing on an extensive scoping review and key informant interviews with Indigenous women and their allies who have been actively involved in environmental assessments across the country, this paper proposes principles and practices for guiding proponents and governments to do a better job of identifying the impacts of major resource and infrastructure developments on Indigenous women, including making impact assessment processes, and mitigation strategies, more attentive to the experiences of Indigenous women. 5th author: Deborah Stienstra, Jarislowsky Chair in Families & Work; Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Guelph –Deborah.stienstra@uoguelph.ca