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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Non-formal education and development : a critical socio-historical analysis of B.C. First Nations agricultural extension Palacios, Alejandro


The colonization of British Columbia by European immigrants beginning in the mid-1800s greatly restricted First Nations access to productive resources. Having lost control of their traditional territories and being able to secure only limited access to financial and agricultural extension services, many First Nations peoples living on reserves in south-central B.C. have had to endure living conditions similar to those usually associated with poor rural populations in less industrialized countries. The focus of this study is First Nations agricultural extension practice. The purpose is to understand why agricultural development has been slow on B.C. reserves despite the many efforts undertaken by governments in the form of financial and extension programs, especially from 1950 to the present. Two worldviews of "development" are discussed: western modernization and holism. These views encompass various streams of thought that helped to characterize - through a structurist historical research approach - the conceptions about development prevalent among First Nations leaders and key government policy-makers. They also assisted in understanding the nature of the relationships between development programs and agricultural extension practice. The study shows that although federal government development programs have enhanced, to a limited extent, the quality of material life on reserves, they have had little impact on non-material aspects of human existence. Development programs often ignored First Nations peoples' worldviews, having relied chiefly on the transfer of advanced modern technologies from the industrialized sectors of the economy. Furthermore, Euro- Canadian society, through the exercise of its social, political and cultural hegemony, has seriously limited First Nations' capacity to maintain their way of life, their economic systems and their cultural traditions. The historical analysis shows that First Nations agricultural development lacked strong support from Indian Affairs prior to 1979. Although the creation of First Nations institutions does not necessarily guarantee the implementation of development programs inspired by indigenous perspectives, the study indicates the need to train First Nations people as field extension personnel. Furthermore, development of agriculture on reserves involves settling the land question and recognizing First Nations' right to self-government so that they can design their own development and extension programs.

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