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First Nations Communities in Distress

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with First Nation communities is struck by their diversity in terms of, among other things, size, language and culture, geographic location (urban, rural, remote), and levels of well-being. It is this latter dimension that is the focus of this essay. In particular we are interested in those distressed communities on the extreme end of the well-being continuum.

To state that individuals living in these communities experience conditions that are the very worst in Canada is hardly to exaggerate. Consequently, developing a strategy for helping these communities to deal positively with their situation should rank very high on this country’s list of public priorities. The purpose of this essay is to stimulate reflection on this difficult challenge. The authors draw in large part from international literature and experiences to explore the following three questions:

  1. Are there useful generalizations to be made about the developmental processes that distressed communities might adopt to deal positively with their situation?
  2. Are there constructive roles for ‘outside’ parties to play in facilitating these processes? and
  3. What might be useful next steps?
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