UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Promises of prosperity : mining-involved Inuit mothers and culturally relevant child welfare Johnston, Patricia


Research indicates extractive resource development, such as mining, can have negative impacts on women. This includes increased domestic violence and substance abuse among other things. Social and personal problems generated by the separation of families through fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) employment, as well as increased incomes, and other changes can occur. These problems can often bring families to the attention child welfare (state intervention for the protection of children), yet no studies have been undertaken that connect matters of child welfare to the employment of women and other family members in the mining industry. Through interviews with mothers directly affected by either/both involvement with child welfare and/or mining employment, this study documents and alters an understanding of these experiences. Where mining provides employment to an increasing number of Inuit in Nunavut, understanding how mothers perceive social workers and believe social workers to have responded to these problems is important. This is because there is a growing awareness within the social work profession of the importance of providing culturally relevant child welfare services and supports. In Nunavut, this would involve services and supports that are created from within Inuit culture and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) or traditional knowledge. While respecting and incorporating Inuit cultural considerations, this study examines how mining can impact mothers’ responsibilities in relation to the care and protection of their children. It also examines what support services and programs need to be developed; and where changes to existing infrastructure are required that are informed by IQ. Without this information, decision makers in Nunavut are insufficiently tasked to develop solutions and inform standards, legislation, policies and programs to protect children in ways that respect and incorporate Inuit cultural considerations. This was a community-based participatory study; mothers were directly involved in the data collection and analysis. The study found mothers encountered a range of problems associated with mining employment among other things. There are a range of policy implications that stem from these findings, most importantly regarding the design of child welfare within the territory. The mothers have offered suggestions for what would help them to protect and care for their children.

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