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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How bear lost his tail : an Indigenous perspective on inclusive deliberative democratic theory as applied to the Canadian societal context Norris, Matthew


There exists a deep societal divide in Canada between Indigenous and settler societies. A divide which has continuously reared its head through demonstrations of violence, rage, or impassioned dismissal of the pursuit of justice for historical wrongs. As Indigenous voices for justice rise, Canada’s federal and provincial governments respond with policy and legislative change to address Indigenous unrest. Despite the introduction of numerous policies, legislation, and initiatives in an attempt to appease Indigenous voices, Canada has continuously failed to address the foundations of Indigenous calls for justice and has failed to address the disparities between Indigenous communities’ and non-Indigenous communities’ quality-of-life indicators, which in turn are a direct ramification of the injustices perpetuated against Indigenous peoples to which they demand recognition, recompense and reconciliation. When viewed through the lens of deliberative democratic theory the existence of deep societal division and the continual marginalization of particular social groups, appears counterintuitive when one considers the concentrated effort to promote their political inclusion, equality and publicity of Indigenous groups. In investigating this occurrence this thesis will conduct a review of Iris Marion Young’s model of deliberative democratic theory with a specific focus on Young’s four pillars of deliberative democratic theory for the pursuit of social justice, followed by an engagement with Frantz Fanon’s work on the psycho-afflictive disorders settler-colonial societies inflict and are reliant upon. By doing so this thesis will argue that settler colonialism creates, entrenches and makes invisible the systems which are responsible for the social delineations between us and them, between settler society and Indigenous societies, and between have and have nots. Further I argue that deliberative democratic theory, through its varied social justice mechanisms, is incapable of addressing the fundamental and structural mechanisms colonialism has created, which ensure the marginalization, disempowerment and dispossession of Indigenous peoples, systems on which the legitimacy of the colonial state relies. To overcome such shortfalls, Young’s pillar of ‘reasonableness’ must be actively pursued through a commitment and concrete action to unearth and challenge the foundations of settler-colonialism and to refute the divisionary policies on which the polity that is Canada has been built.

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