Indigenous Fathers in Canada
This chapter provides a broad perspective on the experiences of Indigenous fathers within the Canadian context, illustrating growing recognition among investigators of the need to examine diversity as well as commonalities among different populations of fathers. The chapter describes lasting impacts of colonial policies, ongoing social exclusion and economic disempowerment, and personal factors that create persisting challenges for Indigenous boys and men to successfully navigate the transition to fatherhood. Indigenous fathers’ experiences resonated with other groups of fathers who seek to “turn around” negative multigenerational patterns in their own lives but also in society as a whole. The findings suggest five key areas for strategic actions to: balance overwhelming negative media about fathers’ roles with positive media; address the mother-centric nature of many child and family support programs; increase paternity identification on children’s birth, health, school, and child welfare records; implement policies to improve overall living conditions of populations of men living on the margins; and recognize that established patterns of family relations take time and require patience on the parts of those who wish to support positive change.
KeywordsFathers Father involvement Fatherhood Families Child development Indigenous Aboriginal Canada Multigenerational patterns Residential schools Trauma Social inclusion Diversity Mother-centrism Paternity recognition Indian Residential Schools
This chapter draws upon findings of a research study conducted by the author as part of the Fathers Involvement Research Alliance, and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Community-University Research Alliances program (File No. 833-2003-1002) as well as by the British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development through the Human Early Learning Partnership. The author thanks the five community partners and 80 fathers who participated in the research reported here, and the Aboriginal project team, including Candice Manahan, Ron Tsaskiy George, and Leroy Joe.
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