Nursing the ‘Other’: Exploring the Roles and Challenges of Nurses Working within Rural, Remote, and Northern Canadian Aboriginal Communities

Title: Nursing the ‘Other’: Exploring the Roles and Challenges of Nurses Working within Rural, Remote, and Northern Canadian Aboriginal Communities
Authors: Rahaman, Zaida
Date: 2014
Abstract: State dependency and the lingering impacts of colonialism dancing with Aboriginal peoples are known realities across the Canadian health care landscape. However, delving into the discourses of how to reduce health disparities of a colonized population is a sophisticated issue with many factors to consider. Specifically, nurses can play a central role in the delivery of essential health services to the ‘Other’ within isolated Northern Aboriginal communities. As an extension of the state health care system, nurses have a duty to provide responsive and relevant health care services to Aboriginal peoples. The conducted qualitative research, influenced by a postcolonial epistemology, sought to explore the roles and challenges of nurses working within rural, remote, and Northern Canadian Aboriginal communities, as well as individual, organizational, and system level factors that supported or impeded nurses’ work in helping to meet Aboriginal peoples’ health needs with meaningful care. Theorists include the works of Fanon on colonization and racial construction; Kristeva on semiotics and abjection; and Foucault on power/knowledge, governmentality, and bio-power were used in providing a theoretical framework to help enlighten the research study presented within this dissertation. Critical Discourse Analysis of twenty-five semi-structured interviews with nurses, physicians, and regional health care administrators was deployed to gain a better understanding of the responsibilities and challenges of nurses working in Northern Canada. Specifically, the research study was conducted in one of the three health regions within Northern Saskatchewan. Major findings of this study include: (1) the Aboriginal person did not exist without being in a relation with their colonial agent, the nurse, (2) being ‘Aboriginal’ was constructed as a source of treating illnesses and managing diseases, and (3) as a collective force, nursing was utilized as means of governmentality and as provisions of care situated within colonial laws. Historically, nurses functioned as a weapon to ‘save’ and ‘civilize’ Aboriginal peoples for purposes of the state. Primarily, present day nursing roles focused on health care duties to promote a decency of the state, followed by missionary tasks. In turn, the findings of this research study indicate that nurses must have a better understanding of the impact of colonialism on Aboriginal peoples’ health before they engage with local communities. Knowledge development through postcolonial scholarship in nursing can help nurses and health service providers to strengthen their self-reflective practice, in working towards de-signifying poor discourses around Aboriginal peoples’ health and to help create new discourses.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -