Introducing land markets in First Nations: transgressive tendencies, post-colonial possibilities

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Locke, Jason Charles
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This thesis examines attempts to transform access to land and housing in First Nations (‘Indian Reservations’) in Canada through the mechanism of market development. This initiative, proposed by the Government of Canada to First Nations, is a deliberate shift away from socially funded housing to owner occupied housing as a way to increase wealth and address social conditions. The thesis begins with a brief statement of how recent policy shifts in First Nation housing have been justified by neoliberalism, and outlines policy and planning interventions consistent with neoliberalism to develop First Nation homeownership programs. Next, the thesis examines market development in Indigenous lands internationally and draws on lessons learned that may take shape in First Nations. Finally, the thesis examines how interventions in First Nations have been discussed in recent policy documents leading up to the Kelowna Accord signed in 2005, and reports on critical discourse analysis of the documents that were authored by the signatories to support negotiations on the Accord. The purpose is not so much to evaluate the interventionist policies as it to highlight what they attempt to achieve, and to identify some of the challenges they present to planners. Specifically, the thesis addresses the question: what underlying meanings have been embedded in the documentation supporting negotiations on the land questions between Ottawa and Aboriginal organisations? To this end, it extends the analysis by Skelton and Ribeiro (2006), which raises concerns in relation to social rights, Aboriginal governance and social relations that may accompany the introduction of land markets. Findings show how powerful policy discourses shaped by ideological beliefs privilege particular market forms. However, the emphasis on developing market mechanisms fails to address fundamental issues, such as the underlying cause of poverty and homelessness in First Nations. Such insights challenge current direction in First Nations housing policy and calls for socially responsive and community-based solutions to housing that are relevant to culture, context and place.
First Nations housing policy, Neoliberalism, Land markets, Land tenure, Kelowna Accord, Critical discourse analysis