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Understanding Marginalisation and its Impacts on Indigenous People

Question:

Discuss about the Adverse Incorporation and Social Exclusion.

Working for and with disadvantaged or marginalised groups of people require an in-depth understanding of the concept of marginalisation and its impacts on the aboriginal or indigenous people of a particular area.  Aboriginal people comprises of the various ethnic groups or communities, who were the original dwellers of a particular region, before colonization by external settlers and businesspersons. Indigenous people have always been deprived of the basic necessities and privileges and economically dominated by the society of colonizers. Impacts of such gross marginalization are huge—poor health, increased chronic disorders, lack of education and awareness, little to no access of health or other social services, and more.

In this essay,I aim to analyse the role of a social worker, who is working with marginalised or disadvantaged people, and support it with new perspectives and skills that could be inculcated in order to enhance efficiency

Various marginalised communities have various kinds of disadvantages: needs and challenges. According to Marshall & Rossman (2014),committing as a social worker serving indigenous marginalised groups requires vivid knowledge of the particular community, their history of origin, culture, practices, religion, beliefs and more. Exclusion from the dominant power structures of a society results in their exclusion from the mainstream source of income, and hence from accessing social and health services too. Marginalised people evidently suffer more from chronic disorders than the non-indigenous, privileged settlers. In this essay, I would explore and analyse the history and existing conditions of the Anishinabe tribe of Canada, in order to define my role as a social worker and make helpful contributions by offering new perspectives in the system.

The most important role of a social worker serving marginalised communities is to have a thorough understanding of power structures existing in the society that lead to suppression and marginalisation of the minority and also, to device appropriate mechanism to make an effective change in the system structure and establish social equity. Various aboriginal tribes of Canada, who share similar culture, history andlanguage, together form the Anishinaabe group of people. Traditionally, most Anishinaabe people were populated in Northeast Woodlands and Subarctic. The Anishinaabe group includes various tribes, like—Odawa, Ojibwe, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Chippewa and Algonquin peoples. The Anishinaabe tribes are autonomous in structure with their own set up of laws, government, police and other services. Each community of the Anishinaabe tribe have their own registered lands that belong to them and do not come under the jurisdiction of the Canadian government. Various social service groups, like Anishinabeg Child and Family Services and other Child and Family Services across Canada, work in collaboration to serve the tribal people, especially children and families (Walter, 2015). Their aim is essentially to safeguard the basic rights and privileges required for the survival of the Anishinaabe tribal people.

Working with the marginalised people of Canada would require me to carry out an in-depth study of their history and culture. Taking into account the Anishinaabe group of tribes, a thorough conception of their cultural specifics is mandatory before taking on the task of serving them. My primary motive should be to take care of the best interests of the marginalised communities by diminishing external and internal threats and boosting their safety. As a social service provider, I would be responsible for their well-being and supporting them to develop mechanisms that would help them to cope with their challenges more proficiently. As per Asch (2014),apart from guiding the communities with appropriate awareness regarding legal, social and health related processes, there are workers specifically catering to connecting the needs of the community with the respective solution areas. For example, connecting an aboriginal individual, who is in need of legal advice, with a culturally competent Indigenous community solicitor.

The Anishinaabe Tribe: An In-Depth Study

Anishinaabe tribes need advancement in various sectors like—healthcare, education, income and housing. On one hand, lack of understanding of the Native American culture might lead to improper judgement, and on the other hand, it is almost impossible for a social worker to get accustomed to such a varied range of communities and their specific cultures. Therefore, it is important to have thorough knowledge of the elementary cultures and customs that are shared by the Native Americans in general, and evaluate them to identify the best efficient approach. One of the biggest roles as a social service provider to the Anishinaabe communities is to provide easy access to health care and health services, to reduce the constantly widening health disparity between the indigenous and non-indigenous population and control the threats and risks related to health for the communities. Another major drawback faced by the Native Americans is the alienation from normative income structure (Hickey & Du Toit, 2013). Majorly dominated by the non-indigenous population society, the work force of the country is not inclusive of the indigenous people, leading to huge economic disparities.

The major issues of marginalisation of indigenous communities arise from the adverse impacts of imperialism and colonialism by the European, French and British settlers and businesspeople, who now constitute the normative society. Reducing the marginalisation of these communities requires a social worker to perceive community issues from a post-colonial point of view (Mattsson, 2014). Growing up as a non-indigenous individual in American middle-class societyhas internalized my perception of the indigenous communities as colonized groups of incompetent individuals. Impacts of colonization are hugely varied and multi-generational (Snelgrove, Dhamoon & Corntassel, 2014). Therefore, social workers striving for the well-being of marginal communities need to be primarily de-colonizing their perception of the work and the subject (Smith, 2013). Working for the aboriginal communities with a colonized perception would create more obstacles on the path of progress than reduce it. On the other hand, working as a social service provider for aboriginal communities allows me to gain knowledge about their intrinsic cultures, values and customs. The more I am aware about their culture, the easier it will be to establish stable, relationship-driven communication system with a decolonized mind. Understanding their fundamental issues and voicing their opinion justly would help in enhancing the efficiency of work.

Geographic isolation plays another important role in hindering the progress of all indigenous communities (Ritchie et al., 2015). Though the aboriginal groups have an autonomous jurisdiction, major sections of the communities are not included due to remote geographical location and difference in language and culture; this in turn obstructs their access to basic amenities like healthcare, education, jobs and other privileges, which are enjoyed by the registered communities. However, the unreserved communities survived the imperialistic ambush of the European settlers much better than the reserved communities of America did. Unlike the reserved communities, they could successfully preserve fundamental elements of their culture, customs and language, along with preserving a strong family-reserve amongst each other.

This assignment urged me to do an extensive as well as intensive research on marginalisation of communities, need for social work especially for the marginalised groups, and ethical responsibilities of the social service providers, in respect to the culture, custom and traditions of the communities (Fassinger & Morrow, 2013). I learnt about the aboriginal tribes and groups of my own country, who were the First Nations people, and am more conscious about the Canadian history of the early dwellers and their contributions to our society(Lans, 2016). This assignment encouraged me to have a better insight at the role of social work and its impacts on practical lives of the indigenous people. Based on that, I further learned how the normative Euro-centric views of most social workers of Canada, who are working for marginalised communities, are oppressing the marginalised even more by not recognizing their traditional culture, customs, language, beliefs and values.

Serving Marginalised Communities: Role and Responsibilities of Social Workers

The history of oppression on the marginalised people by the social workers instigated me to bring a change in the field of social service, especially for the marginalised communities of our country. The Anishinaabe tribes of Canada share a history of rich culture, political systems, spirituality and languages. The settler colonialism of Canadian governmentoppresses the aboriginal people through various means—like imposing racial names, categories and identities, which the indigenous people do not identify with(Hastings, 2016). Along with coarse racism, the patriarchal mindset of Euro-centric settlers diversified the oppression by taking away the status of any woman and her children, if she marries an indigenous man. Such colonisations on race, sex, culture and gender hinders the progress of the communities (Benería, Berik & Floro 2015). Therefore, decolonization of a social worker’s mindset and approach is essential; it would accustom the workers with multi-cultural issues and prepare them better for the practical work areas.

To conclude, the particular elements that I would like to add to social work are—the need to train and sensitize social service workers, decolonize their approach towards aboriginal people and the skill to empathize with the subjects, in order to have a better grasp at their point of view and understand their necessities. The Indigenous people are often subjected to cultural violence and systematic oppression, which can only be controlled with a systematic change in educational, political, legal and economic structures of our country. Including the history of aboriginal people and their cultures in school text books and history classes would be a big step forward for an effective, structural change in the system.

References

Asch, M. (2014). On being here to stay: Treaties and Aboriginal rights in Canada. University of Toronto Press.

Benería, L., Berik, G., & Floro, M. (2015). Gender, development and globalization: economics as if all people mattered. Routledge.

Fassinger, R., & Morrow, S. L. (2013). Toward best practices in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method research: A social justice perspective. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 5(2), 69-83.

Hastings, T. H. (2016). Turtle Island 2016 Civil Resistance Snapshot. Journal for the Study of Peace and Conflict, 58.

Hickey, S., & Du Toit, A. (2013). Adverse incorporation, social exclusion, and chronic poverty. In Chronic Poverty (pp. 134-159). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Lans, C. (2016). Possible similarities between the folk medicine historically used by First Nations and American Indians in North America and the ethnoveterinary knowledge currently used in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 192, 53-66.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2014). Designing qualitative research. Sage publications.

Mattsson, T. (2014). Intersectionality as a useful tool: Anti-oppressive social work and critical reflection. Affilia, 29(1), 8-17.

Ritchie, S. D., Wabano, M. J., Beardy, J., Curran, J., Orkin, A., VanderBurgh, D., & Young, N. L. (2013). Community-based participatory research with Indigenous communities: The proximity paradox. Health & place, 24, 183-189.

Smith, L. T. (2013). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd..

Snelgrove, C., Dhamoon, R. K., & Corntassel, J. (2014). Unsettling settler colonialism: The discourse and politics of settlers, and solidarity with Indigenous nations. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 3(2).

Walter, M. (2015). The vexed link between social capital and social mobility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 50(1), 69-88.

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