Examining the Urban Aboriginal Policy Gap: Impacts on Service Delivery for Mobile Urban Aboriginal Peoples in Winnipeg, Canada
Keywords:Aboriginal mobility, migration, service delivery, urbanization, urban policy
In recent decades, Aboriginal peoples in Western settler nations have become increasingly urbanized. In many cases, urbanization has been associated with notably high levels of geographic mobility between rural/reserve areas and cities, as well as within cities. Despite the increasing urbanization of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, the policy environment in Canada remains focused on the reserve-based population. Drawing upon thirty-nine in-depth interviews with mobile, urban Aboriginal peoples and urban Aboriginal service providers in Winnipeg, Canada, this article demonstrates that colonial-rooted policy and legislation, along with federal downscaling and privatization of social services, have impacted how service providers operate. This has resulted in service gaps between urban and rural/reserve areas, as Aboriginal migrants seek out information and support from housing, employment, education, health and social-related services. This leaves Aboriginal migrants often unprepared for their transition from rural/reserve areas to cities. Intra-city movers also experience difficulty maintaining continuous social and health service care as they travel across urban neighbourhoods. The research findings suggest a need for urban Aboriginal policies that reflect the right to self-determination and adequate service delivery, as service providers remain constrained by neoliberalism, government funding restrictions, and service delivery models that do not acknowledge urban Aboriginal peoples’ mobility experiences.
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