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Indians in Vancouver : an explorative overview of the process of social adaption and implications for research Collins, Barbara Rose

Abstract

This is a study of the social adaptation of native Indian people in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the methodological implications for future research in this area. It was accomplished by reviewing the roots of the problem in history, exploring the reserve system, defining the problem as it now exists in Vancouver and outlining some programmes designed to facilitate this adaptation (in particular the Vancouver Indian Centre). In addition, it is an interview survey of the opinions of Indians and experts in Indian Affairs with respect to their perception of Indian problems and their suggestions for solution. The significance of this study is twofold. First of all, it illustrates that agencies which sponsor research may have a tendency to see its value only in pragmatic returns rather than in the contributions such research may make to generally improved understanding as a basis for sound planning. Secondly, it adds to our fund of knowledge of the urban Indian population and indicates possible future areas of research. The method consisted of highly unstructured interviews with the persons noted above. Whereas the content of the interviews with experts related primarily to the need for research, the areas of possible research, and the suggested solutions, those with Indian people focussed on specific topics such as reserves, types of schools, use of the native language, integration and amalgamation. It was suggested by officials and persons who have a great deal of contact with Indians that these were topics to which the Indian was particularly sensitive and that they were therefore not appropriate content for exploration after limited contact with subjects. We concluded that this is not necessarily true. These limited contacts with Indians who have come to the city also indicated that Indians are forsaking the reserves to seek opportunity and improved status in the urban community. In the process they are making valiant efforts to adjust to the white culture. This presupposes native strengths which should be recognized as a positive basis upon which to build welfare services. Because of the exploratory nature of this study, many of these strengths will have to be more positively identified, verified and correlated by future research. The main conclusion is that action-research in several specific areas would meet the needs and expectations of the Indians, the experts in Indian Affairs and the urban-White population.

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