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Voices of First Nations women : their politics and political organizing in Vancouver, B.C. Cole, Susan C.

Abstract

As a contribution to the literature on Aboriginal women and politics on the Northwest Coast, this study focuses on the experiences of nine First Nations women who are community leaders in Vancouver, British Columbia. They are involved in political work in various settings: First Nations political organizations on the local, national and international levels, the government, non-governmental agencies, service organizations, tribal councils, and/or community projects. The research methods used are interviewing, the collection of life histories and collaboration, with a feminist and reflexive approach. Informal, interactive interviews were carried out with these particular First Nations women, and contacts were made with other Aboriginal men and women in the city of Vancouver. A significant part of this thesis are brief life histories that include the individual voices of the nine participants. These women have moved to Vancouver from reserves or small communities throughout B.C., and most of them have also participated in the political process in these communities. Some are currently active in both regions. Their narratives emphasize the strong ties they have to their families, communities, and nations. I conclude that these particular women’s connections to both domains are complex and it is not always easy for them to move back and forth to their homeland. This research bridges two units of analysis within anthropology: community studies that focus on Aboriginal women and politics on reserves, and urban studies that include the experiences of Aboriginal women in the city. The concerns of these First Nations women span from the urban center to the reserve or small community, although they are residing in Vancouver. They need to inform both non-Aboriginals and other First Nations people of their links to their communities and to the land.

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