Decolonising local relationships; an example? Janelle Young, Reimagining Mi’kmaq-State Relations: Facing Colonialism at the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum, MA thesis, Dalhousie University, 2015
Abstract: To date, the literature on Canadian Indigenous-state relations has paid little attention to more localized, informal approaches to dispute resolution. Through ethnographic research on the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum, my thesis explores past and current Tripartite Forum members’ perspectives on how it has impacted relations between the Mi’kmaq and federal and provincial governments. I argue that, on the surface, the Tripartite Forum occupies a critical role in ensuring that government policies better meet the needs of Mi’kmaw communities. At the same time, Tripartite Forum members are required to confront a legacy of colonialism that, for the Mi’kmaq, cannot be solved through the creation of culturally relevant programs and services alone. That often reproduces the very colonizing power relations that the Tripartite Forum is meant to undo. By contrast, Mi’kmaw members of the Tripartite Forum envision a relationship based on the values of equality and sharing that are contained within the peace and friendship treaties signed by their ancestors. Improving relations between Mi’kmaw communities and the Canadian and Nova Scotian States will ultimately require a significant reordering of power beyond the current mandate of the Forum.
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