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  • Marking Ten years of UNDRIP in Indigenous Historical Perspectives

    Written by guest blogger Mary Jane Logan McCallum.

    I was invited to write this blog in celebration of International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, August 9th. August 9th was chosen for this commemoration because on that day, in 1982, the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights held its first meeting.  This event did not make it into public memory; indeed, until last week, I did not know that International Day of the World’s Indigenous People even existed. In this blog, I want to use it as an entry point for contemplating recent Indigenous history. This year’s celebration theme honours the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted by the General Assembly on September 13th, 2007. While UNDRIP made a lot of sense to Indigenous people here, Canada did not sign UNDRIP without qualification until May 10th, 2016.

    Critical and evocative moments in modern Indigenous history coincide with this decade, 2007–2017. For example, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, implemented September 19th, 2007, included a number of individual and collective measures to address the legacies of residential schools including the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  Over the years that followed, the Commission studied the history of the Indian Residential School system, Indian policy, and their long-term impacts.  It also produced an incredible archive of Indigenous history and its recommendations, in part informed by UNDRIP, have inspired many historians like myself, in our work.

    Over the years that followed, the Commission studied the history of the Indian Residential School system, Indian policy, and their long-term impacts. It also produced an incredible archive of Indigenous history and its recommendations, in part informed by UNDRIP, have inspired many historians like myself, in our work.

    Halfway through UNDRIP’s 10-year history, in November 2012, one of the most significant waves of activism in recent North American history, the Idle No More movement, was initiated by Nina Wilson, Sheelah Mclean, Sylvia McAdam and Jessica Gordon, and quickly taken up by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across Canada and beyond.  Unlike the TRC, the Idle No More movement, and quite a lot of the writing and teaching that arose out of it, often turned away from the state.  It described and analyzed urban and rural racism in Canada, Indigenous principles of stewardship and sovereignty in cases where oil and gas pipelines threatened water and land, the vulnerabilities face by Indigenous women at the intersection of racial, gender and colonial dispossession and discrimination, Indigenous participation in provincial and federal elections and shameful inequity in Indigenous child welfare and education.  In Winnipeg, it seemed like there were new possibilities and over 2014 and 2015, the University of Winnipeg Students Association (UWSA) and the Aboriginal Student Council worked on a proposal for a new Mandatory Indigenous Course Requirement (ICR). During this past academic year, 2016-2017, the ICR was implemented.

    While there has been some change with regards to Indigenous-state relations over the course of the decade 2007-2017, there has also been inertia.  In the months before UNDRIP was adopted by the General Assembly, Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations and Family Caring Society, along with the Assembly of First Nations, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Ottawa, arguing that the federal government discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserves. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal agreed, and in January 2016, ordered that the government remedy the situation. Since the ruling, however, the tribunal has had to issue three compliance orders to the federal government, with the latest being in May 2017; the federal government continues to unilaterally make child welfare policy.[1]

    In a recent issue of the Canadian Historical Review[2] I look at how historians have analyzed and evaluated the history of federal Indian policies related to Indigenous health. (The article was also featured on Rick Harp’s Media Indigena: Weekly Indigenous Current Affairs Program.) There are, I show, four key words that emerge from this recent work that help to understand Indigenous-state relations in health history in Canada: starvation, experimentation, segregation and trauma.  These words characterize embedded systems of thought and identify the ways in which racial inequity, substandard health care, and Indigenous inferiority became common-sense in Canadian health care and health research. My article was part of an occasional feature called “Historical Perspectives” that provides multiple perspectives on particular issues, events and topics in Canadian history. Our installation of essays, written also by Brenda MacDougall, Lianne Leddy and John Borrows, indicates yet another important shift afoot, this time in the discipline of history. As CHR editors Suzanne Morton, Mary-Ellen Kelm and Dimitry Anastakis note, our essays in the March 2017 issue are among the only pages of the Canadian Historical Review to have ever been authored by Indigenous people over the course of its near 100-year history (Brenda MacDougall’s September 2006 article “Wahkootowin: Family and Cultural Identity in North-western Saskatchewan Metis Communities,” being likely the first).[3]

    This year has been marked by many anniversaries.  We often use such events in history to discuss how we see our past selves and who we think we would like to become; we also use anniversaries to leverage change. In that light, consider reading or re-reading UNDRIP alongside Indigenous historical scholarship to learn about Indigenous people’s priorities and hopes for the present and future.

    Endnotes

    [1] Of the federal government’s new “Ten Principles guiding Indigenous-state relations” released earlier this summer, Blackstock and Sebastien Grammond argue, “Unless there is a strong political will to implement them, these principles risk joining, in the dustbin of history, other noble policy statements that had little practical impact.” Cindy Blackstock and Sébastien Grammond, “Reforming child welfare first step toward reconciliation: Opinion,” The Star 1 August 2017.  Accessed August 1, 2017 at: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/08/01/reforming-child-welfare-first-step-toward-reconciliation-opinion.html

    [2] Mary Jane Logan McCallum, “Starvation, Experimentation, Segregation and Trauma, Canadian Historical Review, 98:1 (March 2017): 96-113.

    [3] Dimitry Anastakis, Mary-Ellen Kelm, and Suzanne Morton, “Historical Perspectives: New Approaches to Indigenous History,” Canadian Historical Review, 98:1 (March 2017): 61.

    Logan McCallum's article of "Starvation, Experimentation, Segregation, and Trauma: Words for Reading Indigenous Health History", appears in Volume 98, Issue 1 of the Canadian Historical Review, available to read here.

  • On Keeping Promises: Reading and Reviewing Brock and Swinton's Disability in the Christian Tradition

    Written by guest blogger Michael Walker.

    In February 2013, just as I started my comprehensive exams in systematic theology at the Toronto School of Theology, my dissertation-committee chair gave me a 550-page anthology on theologies of disability, Brian Brock and John Swinton’s Disability in the Christian Tradition: a Reader. He and the TST wanted me to review it! I was excited—at least at first. Little did I realize that I’d be engaged in the process of reading the book (and spilling laundry-soap on it; that’s another story...) for more than three years, as I wrote my dissertation. I can clearly recall a long string of Monday mornings at the laundromat closest to my house where I puzzled over the nuances of Hegel, whom I’d never previously read; at other times, I got lost in Julian of Norwich’s intimate visions of Christ, and was frustrated by Karl Barth’s long, dense thoughts. All the authors investigated in the book had different ideas of disability and illness, and all of them acknowledged the difficulty of living out God’s love as finite human beings.

    All the authors investigated in the book had different ideas of disability and illness, and all of them acknowledged the difficulty of living out God’s love as finite human beings.

    Nonetheless, in a special way, the discipline of reading that anthology was a theological enterprise. Simply, the Hebrew and Christian scriptures are a series of promises: in Genesis, God the Creator blesses various creatures, including human beings, and offers them the whole earth for food. Similarly, in the Gospels and elsewhere in the New Testament, Christ promises his friends and followers full and lasting life...life that they find only by emulating Jesus’ way of love, a mode of life that promotes peace, economic justice, and interpersonal vulnerability. As I read the book between the spring of 2013 and the autumn of 2016, and began to formulate the review that’s appeared elsewhere at UofT Press, I felt that same kind of longing, that yearning for the fulfillment of a promise. I wanted not only to (someday) finish the book that still had the faint turquoise stain of Tide laundry-detergent in the middle, but also to really experience and live out the embodied love that all the authors in the book had described.

    In the end, I kept my promise to my supervisor, and wrote the review. Keeping promises, especially the ones we make before we count the cost, can be difficult, but the reward can be sweet. On one hand, I hope to write reviews of shorter and less-complex books at some point. On the other, whether the books are short or not, I’m ready and willing to count quarters, and to do hours of laundry, so that I can clearly articulate the world of promise in a theology of disability.

    Walker's review of "Disability in the Christian Tradition: a Reader by Brian Brock and John Swinton", appears in Volume 33, Issue 1 of the Toronto Journal of Theology, available to read here.

  • When C. Wright Mills Worked for the Culture Industry

    Written by guest blogger Joseph Malherek

    Portrait with Minnesota mapJoseph Malherek, author of "From the Ringstraße to Madison Avenue: Commercial Market Research and the Viennese Origins of the Mass-Culture Debate, 1941–6" which appears in Vol. 47, Issue 2 of the Canadian Review of American Studies.

    Known for monumental works in midcentury sociology such as White Collar, The Power Elite, and The Sociological Imagination, C. Wright Mills earned a reputation as an incisive, independent social critic who exposed the biases and banalities of both elite power brokers and ordinary Americans.  Yet one of Mills’s assignments early in his career had him conducting a survey in Decatur, Illinois funded by major magazine publisher, Macfadden, which was known for its sensational pulp titles like True Story.  Mills had just begun working under Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton at the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University, where he would eventually join the sociology faculty.  Although he worried about how colleagues would perceive his “selling out,” he quickly became engaged in the work when he began part-time in 1944 and then full-time in 1945.

    Lazarsfeld and his Bureau colleagues had conducted a study on the 1940 presidential election, published in 1944 as The People’s Choice, which had sought to elaborate the many factors which influenced voters’ decision-making processes.  The study, which used the “panel” technique of repeated interviews with the same individuals, focused on the role of “opinion leaders,” who existed horizontally in each social group and served as mediators between the mass media and voters.  As opposed to a “hypodermic” model of media influence, which presumed the direct influence of the media, this “two-step” model took seriously the role of people in communicating information.

    Mills’s job in Decatur was to apply the insights of the People’s Choice study and employ a method called “snowball sampling” to trace the chains of influence by interviewing opinion leaders and their followers.  The magazine publisher was interested in identifying “influentials” who might serve as conduits for the messages of their advertisers.  The maverick Mills, however, was lax in following Lazarsfeld’s prescribed quantitative methodology, which would eventually lead to his dismissal from Lazarsfeld’s Bureau.  But the two continued their work incongruously in the Columbia sociology department, where their simmering interpersonal conflict was later fictionalized in the novel False Coin by Mills’s friend Harvey Swados.

    The maverick Mills, however, was lax in following Lazarsfeld’s prescribed quantitative methodology, which would eventually lead to his dismissal from Lazarsfeld’s Bureau

    Mills would end up using his interviews from the Decatur study as the basis for his broad analysis of bureaucracy and social organization in the American middle classes, published in 1951 as White Collar.  Despite the book’s later canonization, when it appeared Lazarsfeld viewed it skeptically as a bastardization of the work of his Bureau.  The sociologist David Riesman, an admirer of Lazarsfeld, agreed that for Mills methodological rigor was secondary to the effectiveness of his polemic.  Yet Lazarsfeld had to acknowledge Mills’s role in popularizing an idea of social stratification among historians, and Lazarsfeld was able to salvage much of the Decatur research for his own book, Personal Influence, published in 1955 with Elihu Katz.

    Mills would later skewer Lazarsfeld’s brand of “abstracted empiricism” as a “molecular” kind of applied research which could not address big questions, but he remained indebted to Lazarsfeld’s Bureau and the magazine publisher Macfadden, which had sponsored his most enduring sociological study.

    Malherek's article, "From the Ringstraße to Madison Avenue: Commercial Market Research and the Viennese Origins of the Mass-Culture Debate, 1941–61", appears in Volume 47, Issue 2 of the Canadian Review of American Studies, available to read here.

  • Bringing Canadian Women on Board – The OSC Initiative Two Years On

    Written by guest blogger Kim Melissa Willey

    Willey_Photo

    Women remain woefully under-represented on the boards of Canadian companies two years after the Ontario Securities Commission (‘OSC’) changed its disclosure rules to make gender parity a priority[1]. At last count, women held only 18% percent of board seats in Canada’s largest public companies.[2] Admittedly, we are seeing baby steps as the number of women on boards continues to creep upwards, but decisions of Canada’s largest economic entities are still made by a group that does not reflect the population. Obviously, cultural diversity is also a significant part of this discussion, but cultural diversity should not push gender parity to the back burner. Women on boards are measurable in a way that cultural diversity is not, and, consequently, gender initiatives can bring faster transformation.

    Women remain woefully under-represented on the boards of Canadian companies two years after the Ontario Securities Commission (‘OSC’) changed its disclosure rules to make gender parity a priority[1].

    In my article in the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law[3], I analyze the OSC’s approach to gender diversity from a behavioural economics perspective. Gender bias is deep seated in our business communities even among the most well-meaning and socially attuned people. Law and regulation can help uproot these deep seated and often unconscious gender biases, but the OSC’s approach does not do enough.

    The OSC implemented a disclosure regime requiring large Canadian listed companies - TSX Venture Exchange companies do not count - to annually tell investors what they are doing about gender parity in the board room and in senior management. This is supposedly a ‘comply and explain’ approach meant to publically pressure companies towards gender parity. An alternative approach is quotas, which are popular in some European countries and can be an effective legal tool to increase the number of women on boards. But quotas have been rejected in Canada mainly based on concerns of ‘tokenism’, where board seats are filled with women with minimal influence and potentially less qualifications for the role.

    Although quotas may not be a viable option to diversify Canadian boardrooms, the current OSC approach is far too soft to effect change. It is in practice an ‘explain and explain’ approach. Merely asking what companies are doing does not set a standard for behaviour. What is needed instead is a true ‘comply and explain’ approach. The OSC should state that all issuers - not just TSX companies - should have gender parity by a specific date - or stagger it, for example, 30% by 2020, 40% by 2022, and 50% by 2025. Boards should then be required to fully describe the steps they are taking to achieve this goal, or explain why they are not. Anything less is selling Canadian women short.

    References

    [1]  Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), Multi-Lateral Canadian Securities Administrators Amendments to National Instrument 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices (Canadian Securities Association, 15 October 2014).

    [2]  http://www.osc.gov.on.ca/documents/en/Securities-Category5/sn_20160928_58-308_staff-review-women-on-boards.pdf

    [3]  "'Bringing Canadian Women on Board': A Behavioural Economics Perspective on Whether Public Reporting of Gender Diversity Will Alter the Male-Dominated Composition of Canadian Public Company Boards and Senior Management", Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Volume 29, Issue 1 (2017).

    Kim Willey is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge. Kim has a B.A. (Hons), LL.B. and M.B.A from the University of Victoria and a Masters in Law from Osgoode Hall at York University in Toronto. Kim’s research is in the area of corporate governance and accountability. Prior to starting her PhD research, Kim had over a decade in private practice as a corporate lawyer advising clients on merger and acquisition transactions, both in Bermuda and Canada.

    Willey's article, "'Bringing Canadian Women on Board': A Behavioural Economics Perspective on Whether Public Reporting of Gender Diversity Will Alter the Male-Dominated Composition of Canadian Public Company Boards and Senior Management", appears in Volume 29, Issue 1 of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, available to read here.

  • Everything is Political – Even Physiotherapy!

    Written by guest blogger Jenny Setchell PhD BSc(PT)

    There is a notable absence of conversations about the politics of physiotherapy.

    I have been a physiotherapist for over 20 years. I have mainly worked clinically, and more recently entered academia. My drive to shift professional gears was that I wanted to spend some time building my own capacity to engage in some deep questions I had always had about my profession. What was of interest to me was the ostensibly apolitical nature of physiotherapy. I was continually surprised how extremely rare it was that anyone discussed this healthcare profession in terms of power or politics. To me, these have always been an inherent part of just about everything that humans engage in – and, I believe, important to attend to so that we can work towards being ethical people in the world.

    However, I have found trying to engage in a discussion about power or politics was very difficult in the context in my profession. These discussions were (to me) notably absent from physiotherapy conferences, lunchrooms or education. Beyond advocating for the profession’s rights to increase or maintain their scope of practice, little is said. Where were discussions about the implicit or explicit politics in the way the profession presents itself to the world? Whose interests does physiotherapy represent? What types of unspoken or overt messages do we perpetuate or create with the ways that our profession operates? What does physiotherapy have to say about bodies, society, culture, diversity?

    Politics is about power. When considered in a macro-political sense it is possible to understand that power goes well beyond who is in power in government. In fact, as post-structuralist thinkers such as Foucault argue, governance is not centralised to institutions such as the government, the police or the judiciary. In fact, the most successful forms of governance (political power) occur through institutions that look as if they have nothing to do with it – but in fact do. If physiotherapy is one such institution (1), this surely should be something that is on the table for discussion?

    Setchell_Blog1 On the other hand, in a micro-political sense, so many of the seemingly insignificant things we do in our lives have political implications. To give a physiotherapy example, measuring how far a person’s knee bends and comparing it to a normal joint range supports systems that advocate for adherence to a particular norm. It supports systems that believe in a particular type of science that holds up ‘objective’ measurement and comparison as helpful and valid (2). These small acts can be dismissed as inconsequential, or more critically, they can be seen as part of a broader system of power that works to define a particular type of normal and exclude those who do not fit (3).

    This type of thinking was the underlying driver behind my PhD and my recently published guest editorial paper in Physiotherapy CanadaWhat has stigma got to do with physiotherapy?” (4). I applaud the journal for taking up questions like the one in the paper title – which prompt a critical (and potentially political) consideration of the healthcare. In the editorial, I discussed how some of the macro- and micro-politics of physiotherapy play out when the profession meets with difference. I used the example of the stigmatisation of people labelled as overweight or obese. Stigma was a way in for me. I looked at what happens when a person labelled overweight is in a physiotherapy context (5, 6) and it showed me that there is so much that is political about physiotherapy.

    References:

    1. Nicholls DA. Foucault and physiotherapy. Physiother Theory Pract. 2012;28(6):447-53.
    2. Setchell J, Nicholls DA, Gibson BE. Objecting: Multiplicity and the practice of physiotherapy. Health. 2017:1-20.
    3. Gibson BE. Rehabilitation: A post-critical approach. Boca Raton, United States: CRC Press; 2016.
    4. Setchell J. What has stigma got to do with physiotherapy? Physiotherapy Canada. 2017.
    5. Setchell J, Watson B, Gard M, Jones L. Physical therapists' ways of talking about weight: Clinical implications. Physical Therapy Journal. 2016;96(6):865-75.
    6. Setchell J, Watson BM, Jones L, Gard M. Weight stigma in physiotherapy practice: Insights from patient perceptions of interactions with physiotherapists. Manual Therapy. 2015;20:835-41.

    Dr Jenny Setchell holds conjoint post-doctoral positions in Canada (Bloorview Research Institute) and Australia (The University of Queensland). Her research interests include the socio-political aspects of healthcare delivery. Clinically, she is a physiotherapist who has mainly worked in the musculoskeletal sub-discipline.

    Email: j.setchell@uq.edu.au
    Twitter: @jensetchell
    Website: https://www.criticalphysio.net

    Her article "What Has Stigma Got to Do with Physiotherapy?" appears in the Winter 2017 issue (Volume 69, Issue 1) of Physiotherapy Canada, available to read here!

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