Aboriginal Urbanization and Rights in Canada: Examining Implications for Health

Aboriginal Urbanization and Rights in Canada: Examining Implications for Health

Urbanization among Indigenous peoples is growing globally. This has implications for the assertion of Indigenous rights in urban areas, as rights are largely tied to land bases that generally lie outside of urban areas. Through their impacts on the broader social determinants of health, the links between Indigenous rights and urbanization may be related to health. Focusing on a Canadian example, this study explores relationships between Indigenous rights and urbanization, and the ways in which they are implicated in the health of urban Indigenous peoples living in Toronto, Canada. In-depth interviews focused on conceptions of and access to Aboriginal rights in the city, and perceived links with health, were conduced with 36 Aboriginal people who had moved to Toronto from a rural/reserve area. Participants conceived of Aboriginal rights largely as the rights to specific services/benefits and to respect for Aboriginal cultures/identities. There was a widespread perception among participants that these rights are not respected in Canada, and that this is heightened when living in an urban area. Disrespect for Aboriginal rights was perceived to negatively impact health by way of social determinants of health (e.g., psychosocial health impacts of discrimination experienced in Toronto). The paper discusses the results in the context of policy implications and future areas of research.

JOURNAL: Social Science & Medicine
VOLUME: In Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 2013
LOCATION: Toronto, ON, Canada