Families form important relationships in the lives of people. The relationships are usually taken for granted and are considered by many as natural, hence no need to study families. In family studies, families are examined in details to understand their characteristics, their roles in the community and their behaviors (Castellano et al., 2000).
Families have unique factors that distinguish from each other. These factors include structure, membership and guiding ideologies. In this study, the writer examines the Métis Aboriginals in Canada. This study aims at connecting the study of Aboriginals and the objectives of family studies (Bell, 2003). The aboriginals have been faced by a number of issues that have affected them throughout history.
Despite the numerous efforts to improve the healthcare among the Aboriginals, their status still remains poorer compared to other Canadians. This community still remains at much higher risk for many diseases and premature death than other people(Reading & Wien, 2009). The community still experiences an increase of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. The link between the people’s income, social status and health still remain dominant. The children of the Aboriginals experience more cases of respiratory infections among other infectious diseases.
The over-crowded shelters and inadequate housing make the health conditions more badly(Kirmayer, 1994). The Métis aboriginals are also more vulnerable to chronic illnesses such as mental illnesses and HIV/AIDS.A report by UNICEF in 2009 indicated that the children of the aboriginals are twice more likely to be admitted to hospitals as a result of preventive diseases. This factor adds to the claims that the government is not doing much to provide sufficient care to the aboriginal people. It is ironic that the Canadian healthcare is regarded as one of the best in the world yet it remains unreachable to the aboriginal people.
In 2016, there were images going around the internet of Aboriginal children with their bodies covered with skin lesions and rashes. This led to the identification of sixteen children with acute skin diseases that needed a faster response from the healthcare practitioners. The health Canada had responded by announcing that a number of qualified health professionals were on their way to help the children(Smylie & Anderson, 2006). The debate which had followed on the possible causes of the skin infections pointed out that poor water conditions and bacterial infections were the cause of the infections. This incident had pointed out one thing; there was a dire need for medical resources in the remote areas of Canada.
The Métis aboriginals are among the major occupants of these regions hence they are the most affected. Scholars from both the University of Victoria for indigenous research and Dalhousie University said that inefficient healthcare resources in the aboriginal reserves were brought about by assimilation policies. These policies have led to the total marginalization of all the aboriginal communities including the Métis aboriginals.
The colonization process had weakened the autonomy among the Métis and Inuit communities. They were denied the direct influence on the policies made by their colonizers and ended up being marginalized in the reserves(Frideres & Gadacz, 2005). This led to the significant disparities witnessed in the health status of the Métis aboriginals and the non-aboriginals. Health research on the health disparities among the Métis aboriginals shows that the root of this disparities lies with the political, social, cultural and economic equities.
These inequities are the social determinants of health even among the Métis aboriginal community. The consistent gap in the socio-economic status between the aboriginals and the non-aboriginals makes the effort to have good healthcare among the Métis very difficult (Bell, 2003). There has been a tremendous improvement on the socio-economic status, but the other determinants still remain the same. Other health issues that are prevalent among the Métis aboriginals include; high maternal mortality and morbidity, stunted growth and malnutrition, short life expectancy, high child mortality, death from substance abuse among others.
Lower Education Levels
The colonial government has been blamed for the power education levels among the Aboriginals. Education is one of the sources of bitterness towards the colonialists (Castellano et al., 2000). The experiment done to assimilate the natives to the Indian residential school system led to few aboriginals finishing high school and tertiary education.
Crowded Settlements and Inadequate Housing
The living conditions of the Aboriginals are so poor that it drew the attention of the global community. The Attawapiskat first nation caught the attention of the United Nations(Bell, 2003). The housing in this area is crowded to an extent that there are no places left to put up more houses. They population living in this area is too big that many people are still left without a house to call their own. There are some improvements on the poor housing conditions and the overcrowding in the households, but the areas still have big housing problems (Bell, 2003). The overcrowding rates among the aboriginals are still higher than among the non-aboriginals.the aboriginals are three times more likely to live in houses that need major repair than the non-aboriginals.
Lower Income Levels
The aboriginals have lower median income compared to other non-aboriginals.the income gap between the aboriginals and other people still remains wide despite the efforts to bridge the gap(Kendall, 2001). It is estimated that it would take over 60 years to completely bridge the existing income gap if the rate of closing it remains the same. The lower income and unemployment among the aboriginals makes them live unfit homes. Children from families with low income have difficulty going through the full education process.
Sixty percent of adults from these families have not attained high school education because they also came from poor families. This creates a vicious cycle among the aboriginals of suffering and inadequacy(Pendakur & Pendakur, 2011). Low income makes it difficult to alleviate poverty early enough in a person’s life. This could be the first step towards creating positive income for the indigenous people.
The government has come up with measures aimed at reducing the poverty levels among the aboriginals. Through the child benefit supplement and Canada child tax benefit, parents are relieved from supplying their children with some of the services. The government has also made efforts to close up the income gap between the aboriginals and the non-aboriginals (Pendakur & Pendakur, 2011). However, more efforts should be made to ensure that the income gap is closed as soon as possible. Canada’s child tax and child benefit supplement should be increased.
Higher Unemployment Rate
The aboriginals have throughout history been the main victims of unemployment in Canada. Their 15 percent unemployment rate is twice the unemployment rate of other non-aboriginals which stand at 7.5 percent. There are many barriers to aboriginal employment which the Canadian government aims to eliminate to enable the Métis aboriginals to have equal access to education as non-aboriginals(Denis, 2007). They include;
- Education and literacy: the government has put in place measures to encourage more Métis Aboriginal community to attain the minimum requirement for most jobs. The requirement basic literacy skills and high school
- Appreciation of cultural differences: Many potential employers are not able to understand the culture of the Métis aboriginal, the government and other organizations have come up with ways that encourage the Canadian population to appreciate and respect the culture of the indigenous people.
- Efforts to eliminate discrimination, racism and stereotyping: These are the major barriers to employment of the aboriginal people. They influence a person’s ability to get a job and remain on the job for a period of time (Mendelson, 2004). The attitudes among people since colonial period should be changed by all means to enable the aboriginal youth to access equal job opportunities.
- Self-esteem: The aboriginal youth come from poor households, broken families, are exposed to discriminations and racism which lower their self-esteem. Low self-esteem affects them negatively during interviews making it easy to lose an opportunity. The government encourages its population to be more accommodating to the cultures of the aboriginal and other indigenous groups.
- Poor housing and poverty: the poor living conditions from which the aboriginal come from affects their physical and mental conditions. An active job seeker needs to be fit both mentally and physically in order to compete with many other job seekers. The government has made efforts through various initiatives to improve housing factor, but more still be done to fully take care of the problem
- Lack of a driving license: For one to have a driver’s license, he or she is expected to visit a nearby office and take a written examination. This has been hard for the Aboriginal community due to low literacy levels among them. Accessing the required initial test may also prove difficult due to lack of trainers or vehicles to use for training. This problem is further compounded by the distance from the aboriginal community from the major urban centers. The government needs to come up with ways in which this problem could be solved to open the window of opportunity for the Métis aboriginal youth.
Higher Incarceration Level
There are many aboriginals in Canadian prison than the non-aboriginals. In 2013, the number of the Aboriginals was 20.9 percent of all the inmates in Canadian prisons. The aboriginal women formed 34.5 percent of all the women inmates(Martel & Brassard, 2008). The aboriginal men formed 22.6 percent of the male inmates. These percentages are too high given that the adult aboriginals only constitute three percent of the Canadian population(Frideres, & Gadacz, 2005). In 2016, the number of aboriginal inmates reached a record high of more than quarter of the total inmates in Canadian prisons.
The correctional investigator of Canada Howard Sapers had admitted that the rate is alarming. The country had a total of 14,624 inmates at the beginning of 2016 and 3,722 were of aboriginal origin (Martel & Brassard, 2016). In some areas, the percentage is even higher. Prairie province had 48 percent of its total inmates made up of aboriginal people. Sapers said that there has been a rapid increase in the number of aboriginal inmates in the last thirty years.
The government tries to counter the rapid increase by requesting justice systems to take into account the history of aboriginal community when making decisions (Martel & Brassard, 2016). Some of the reasons that are pointed out as the reason for increased numbers include the high poverty levels, the home-based school system and the adverse effects of colonialism. This increase has also been attributed to the cuts in the social services by the government, poor healthcare, and low literacy levels among the aboriginal community (Frideres, & Gadacz, 2005).
Professionals point out that the greater the inequality between the aboriginal and the non-aboriginal the higher the likelihood of them being imprisoned, end up dead or missing. To solve this problem, the government carried out a research through the Truth and Reconciliation commission and the recommendations of the commission are to be followed to the latter. The federal ministers of indigenous affairs, justice, and public safety are expected to implement all the recommendations of the commission.
Higher Mortality Rate among Children and the Youth Due to Injuries
The aboriginal community records higher death rates from unintentional injuries. The youth have reported more death in issues such as drowning on overflowing rivers. The Canada health statistics show that the aboriginal children are more likely to die from such injuries than the non-aboriginals (Alaghehbandan et al., 2010). The rate stands at between 3-4 times higher. Generally, injuries are some of the leading reasons behind many deaths in Canada, especially among the aboriginal community. There is a great disparity between the number of deaths from aboriginal community and the non-aboriginal people.
The socio-economic gradient shows that the number of injuries increases as the socio-economic levels go down(Reading & Wien, 2009). The aboriginal community forms a small percentage of the general population yet the number of recorded deaths from injuries from them makes over fifty percent of the total recorded incidents (Alaghehbandan et al., 2010). The mortality rate among the children and young aboriginal people is higher compared to the non-Aboriginals.the government recognizes these issues and has made efforts to improve injury surveillance, dissemination of information, research work, injury prevention programs among other initiatives. The government involves other stakeholders to ensure sustained collaboration based on time-tested approaches.
Higher Suicide Rates
This is the most tragic issue that affects the aboriginals. A report by the statistics Canada report showed that one in every five off-reserve aboriginals have thought to commit suicide at one point of their lives(Kirmayer, 1994). The suicide rate among the Métis aboriginals is 5-7 times higher than among the non-Aboriginals.the rate is ranked as the highest in the world at eleven percent. The leading causes of deaths among the Métis aboriginal are suicide and self-inflicted injuries. The high suicide rate is attributed to the suffering that characterizes the lives of the aboriginal people. The lack of employment for the youth, the poor healthcare services, discrimination, and racism are some of the factors that could make a person to commit suicide.
It is said that the rate reflected by statistics could be much lower than the actual rate of suicide among the aboriginal(Kirmayer, 1994). The government, through Health Canada, aims at improving the health status of the aboriginal community. This led to the implementation of National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy. The objective of the strategy is to increase resiliency among the people and reduce risk factors that might lead to the people committing suicide. The strategy has helped many people to develop positive thinking which has helped them improve their lives.
Community-Based Resources Available to the Aboriginal Community
There are a number of organizations that have dedicated their resources and time towards helping the Aboriginal community(McDaniels & Trousdale, 2005). Some of them are non-governmental and non-profit. The Canada health is one of the organizations that have come up with effective strategies that have promoted the standards of the Aboriginal people.
This is an initiative of Simon Fraser University and Fraser aboriginal health. This community resource has made numerous efforts to improve the accessibility of health care services to Aboriginal people. It has managed to improved access to primary healthcare for the community. The organization also carries out research with the aim of identifying and eliminating barriers that may lead to Aboriginal people not accessing primary healthcare. The community-based resource has helped in bridging the service gap as well as tackling some of the health challenges facing the community. By identifying the priority areas, the resource has been able to identify areas that need immediate attention and in the process, saving many lives of the aboriginal people.
The Asante Centre
The center is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping the aboriginal community deal with the problems of autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder among other complicated developmental needs. The center assesses and diagnoses the community members as well as offering support to families and the entire community. The organization also undertakes training of community, members as well as carrying out research on issues affecting the community.
Review of the Research Information
The information from this research has added value towards the writer’s understanding of the course. This study has made it possible to understand deeply the role and importance of having family studies in the institutions of learning. Through the study of Aboriginal people, it is now easier to understand their situations, feelings, and experience. This makes it easy to interact and socialize with them. The objectives of this study were within the general of objectives of learning family studies.
From the study, it is possible to get a deep insight into the Aboriginal people. Through this study, the writer and other readers would be able to learn more facts that describe the characteristics and the structure of the aboriginal community. The writer believes that there are still more that could be done to help salvage the situation of the aboriginal people. More stakeholders should come out to help the government in eliminating barriers that lead to the persistent marginalization of the aboriginal people.
The non-aboriginal people should accommodate the cultures of the aboriginal community and help them adapt to modern life. Cases of racism, discrimination and stereotypic should be eliminated at all costs to enable the Aboriginal people to live fulfilling lives. The community-based resources should be encouraged and motivated to put more efforts towards realizing a happier Aboriginal community. The support from these groups has made tremendous improvements and there has been an increase of such community-based initiatives. It is the hope of the writer that the results and recommendations from this study would help in alleviating the living standard of the Aboriginal community.
(a) Do you feel better informed about your topic and the focus you have selected for your research that provides insight into the challenge(s) faced by individuals, families or communities.
Yes I feel more informed and the focus of the selected topic has led to deeper understanding of the course work
(b) Describe your approach and the research methods (including search strategies) used for doing this assignment.
The research methods applied in this study were mainly the use of online literature reviews and classroom texts.
(c) What you would do differently next time?
The next time another research is to be done, the writer would prefer to visit the community upon which the research is based on to find more information first-hand.
(d) Did you discuss your project, or any of your research findings, with classmates, coworkers, family or friends? What did they think about your paper topic and findings?
The writer discussed the research with classmates who agreed that the chosen topic was appropriate and relevant to the course work
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