Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Contested Visions of First Nation Governance: Secondary Analysis of Federal Government Research on the Opinions of On-Reserve Residents

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Contested Visions of First Nation Governance: Secondary Analysis of Federal Government Research on the Opinions of On-Reserve Residents

Article excerpt


Using multiple regression analysis of data from the first national survey (N = 1,427) ever conducted of on-reserve, First Nation individuals, this article identifies and ranks in importance the determinants of respondents' support for the federal government's highly constraining approach to Aboriginal self-government. It also tests two competing explanations of that support--a colonized way of thinking versus a community development orientation.

Controlling simultaneously for all fifteen independent variables, the analysis found the following statistically significant factors (listed from most to least important) to be associated with support for the federal government's model of self-government: responsibility orientation, age, acquiescence, and cultural pride. Ten percent of the variance in the dependent variable was explained. Neither of the competing explanatory models was well supported.

The limitations of such secondary analysis are discussed, along with the differing objectives of researchers in academia and government. Recognizing a need to be vigilant against the possibility of co-optation, the authors endorse recent calls for trilateral collaboration between academic social scientists, government policy units, and Aboriginal organizations, so as to maximize the utility of research findings for all stakeholders.

Utilisant l'analyse de regression multivariee de donnees de la premiere enquete nationale (N = 1,427) d'individus des Premieres Nations habitant sur les reserves, cet article identifie et place en ordre d'importance les determinants du support des repondants pour le modele tres restrictif du gouvernement federal par rapport a l'autonomie gouvernementale des peuples aborigenes. Il teste aussi deux explications alternatives de ce support--une maniere coloniale de pensee versus une orientation visee sur le developpement communautaire.

En controlant simultanement pour les dix-sept variables independantes, l'analyse trouve que les facteurs suivants sont statistiquement significatifs (listes du plus au moins important) et sont associes au support pour le modele stipule par le gouvernement federal pour la gouvernance autonome: orientation en termes de responsabilites, age, consentement, et fierte culturelle. Dix pourcent de la variance de la variable dependante est explique par ce modele. Aucune des explications alternatives n'est supportee par l'analyse statistique.

Les limitations d'une telle analyse de donnees secondaires sont discutees de meme que les differents objectifs des chercheurs universitaires et gouvernementaux. Tout en reconnaissant le besoin d'etre vigilant par rapport a la possibilite de cooptation, les auteurs appuient les appels recents concernant une collaboration trilaterale entre les acdemiciens des sciences sociales, les unites de la politique gouvernementales, et les organisations aborigenes, de facon a maximiser l'utilite des resultats des recherches pour tous les partis impliques.


With the federal government's recognition of an inherent right to self-government in 1995 (Canada 1995), the 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, and the twice-proposed First Nations Governance Act (Canada 2002), Aboriginal self-government remained a focus of debate in the early twenty-first century (see Russell 2000; Flanagan 2000). Despite the death of the First Nations Governance Act (FNGA) on the House of Commons order paper with the calling of the election in 2004, the central elements of FNGA could be reintroduced under Prime Minister Martin or by his successor. Indeed, the broader issue is likely to be with us for a long time.

The contested visions of Aboriginal self-government examined here are situated in a context that includes questions regarding how group rights can be accommodated in liberal democracies (Singh 2002), how the survival and well-being of traditional communities and cultures can be ensured in contemporary society (Murphy 2001), and how conflicts between group rights and individual rights for members of traditional minorities can be reconciled (Wilkins 1999; Denis 1997). …

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