An Opportunity for Healing and Holistic Care: Exploring the Roles of Health Care Providers Working Within Northern Canadian Aboriginal Communities

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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative study was exploring what the roles and challenges of health care providers working within Northern Canadian Aboriginal communities are and what resources can help support or impede their efforts in working toward addressing health inequities within these communities. Design: The qualitative research conducted was influenced by a postcolonial epistemology. The works of theorists Fanon on colonization and racial construction, Kristeva on semiotics and abjection, and Foucault on power/knowledge, governmentality, and biopower were used in providing a theoretical framework. Methods: Critical discourse analysis of 25 semistructured interviews with health care providers was used to gain a better understanding of their roles and challenges while working within Northern Canadian Aboriginal communities. Findings: Within this research study, three significant findings emerged from the data. First, the Aboriginal person’s identity was constructed in relation to the health care provider’s role of delivering essential health services. Second, health care providers were not treating the “ill” patient, but rather treating the patient for being “ill.” Third, health care providers were treating the Aboriginal person for being “Aboriginal” by separating the patient from his or her identity. The treatment involved reforming the Aboriginal patient from the condition of being “Aboriginal.”

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