Emerging whole from Native-Canadian relations: mixed ancestry narratives: a thesis

Emerging whole from Native-Canadian relations: mixed ancestry narratives: a thesis

University of British Columbia

Dawn Marsden

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts in the Department of Educational Stuides.

After hundreds of years of contact, the relationships between the people of Native Nations and the Canadian Nation are still filled with turmoil. This is common knowledge. What isn’t well known, are the personal consequences for children who have Native and non-Native ancestors. This thesis is written with the assistance of eight people of mixed ancestry, who share their experiences, ideas, strategies and dreams, to help others who are dealing with similar issues. This thesis has been organized around the dominant themes and commonalities that have emerged out of eight interviews, into four sections: CONTEXT, CHALLENGES, STRATEGIES & GIFTS. The context that mixed ancestry individuals are born into is complex. Euro-Canadian designs on Native lands and resources resulted in policies that had, and continue to have, a devastating effect on Native people. Legal manipulations of Native identity, in particular, have resulted in the emergence of hierarchies of belonging. Such hierarchies are maintained by enduring stereotypes of “Indianness” and “Whiteness”. For some mixed ancestry individuals, negotiating the polarized hierarchies of Native and Canadian societies can result in feelings of being split, and the need to harmonize aspects of the self, with varying social environments. Various strategies are used to deal with such issues, internally and externally. Ultimately, through choices, strategies and transformations, it is possible to transcend the challenges of mixed ancestry, and to lead more fulfilling lives. My hope is that this thesis will be of assistance to people of mixed ancestry and to those trying to understand the complexities of Native- Canadian relations, at least to the point of inspiring more discussions and research.

Read the entire thesis here.

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