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Kapītipis ē-pimohteyahk: aboriginal street youth in Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Montreal

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Title: Kapītipis ē-pimohteyahk: aboriginal street youth in Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Montreal
Author: Gilchrist, Laurette
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Educational Studies
Copyright Date: 1995
Abstract: “kapītipis ē-pimohteyahk: Aboriginal Street youth in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal” seeks to gain insight into life on city streets for Aboriginal youth: why they go to the street, how they survive, what kinds of services they are more likely to use, what changes they envision for services provided to them, and finally to recommend corresponding changes in service delivery and preventative measures. The primary interest is their perceptions of their experiences on the Street — as Aboriginal people — as much as possible in their own voice, and in such a way as to contextualize their lives in Canadian structural colonial history and in modern urban terms. Utilizing a critical case study method, in-depth interviews were conducted with nine youth, ages 14-20, currently involved in urban Street life and two people who have lived on the street in the past. To contextualize their experiences, several parents of street youth and street services personnel in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal were interviewed, although with less depth. Each city has an Aboriginal population in excess of 35,000. The literature on street youth in general is growing, but a paucity of information exists on Aboriginal street youth experience in Canada, even though they are over-represented in the street youth population in most cities. By placing Aboriginal street youth in the larger context of mainstream society and the urban environment, and by highlighting the role of current and historical structural impacts, this research has been able to access a holistic view of their lives. The interviews suggest that Aboriginal street youth run to the streets for many of the same reasons as any other street youth, and once they get there their methods of survival are also somewhat the same as those of many runaways. Their cultural backgrounds, history, and structural conditions at point of origin are, however, different from non-Aboriginal street youth. These conditions make them subject to harsher conditions in state care situations (a common entry-point to street life) and on the street. Many experience overt racism, in addition to the stigmatization that street people encounter, in their everyday lives. The youth interviewed told of identity confusion and self hatred, dislocation from home and surrogate parent communities, difficulty in reunification, and ignorance about Aboriginal rights, history and culture. The nature of the relationship between Aboriginality and being a young street person is clearly established in that ethnicity was a salient factor in the antecedents to street life and in the conditions once on the street. Interviews with former street persons suggest that race and culture continue to be salient in the process of leaving the street and in staying off the street.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/7359
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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