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Aboriginal participation in Canada: Overcoming alienation and mistrust in a situation of complex interdependence

Woons, Marc Joseph





This thesis examines the importance of Aboriginal participation in Canadian institutions, why Aboriginal peoples are mistrustful of Canadian institutions, and how reforms might encourage effective Aboriginal participation within Canadian institutions. The first chapter studies the extent of Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal interdependence and its political ramifications. Because interdependence is so great, Aboriginal peoples must participate within shared institutions to influence important decisions affecting them. The second chapter suggests that encouraging Aboriginal participation requires that we overcome strong feelings of alienation and mistrust. In considering other theories of shared citizenship, I conclude that this requires solutions that address Aboriginal symbolic concerns, promote Aboriginal interests, and avoid calls for a shared identity. This leads me to discuss the potential of several reforms in Chapter Three: Aboriginal electoral districts, co-management boards, and indigenizing shared institutions. These reforms seek to make participation in shared institutions more attractive for those who strongly identify as Aboriginal.

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