Intellectual disability and Aboriginal people, an overview of current practise and process in institutionalization
Martens, Cheryl Elizabeth
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Currently in Manitoba, Aboriginal people with intellectual disabilities are more highly represented in institutional placements than they are in community based services. At a time when citizens with intellectual disabilities are demanding to be included as full participants in society, it appears that the institutional experience continues to be the norm for people who are Aboriginal. The purpose of this thesis is to determine the reason for this. Qualitative research was the method of inquiry used in this study. Interviews were conducted with people from federal and provincial governments, community service agencies, Aboriginal service agencies, advocacy groups, and perhaps most importantly, people with intellectual disabilities and their families. These participants identified several themes that help to explain why Aboriginal people with intellectual disabilities have been institutionalized. These themes include: a lack of services in reserve communities, a lack of clear legislation and policy about which branch of government is responsible, and consequently a lack of funding from which to draw. Issues such as poverty, racism, and a history of off-reserve service provision further compound the problems. Even in off-reserve communities Aboriginal people are not highly involved in community based services. In spite of the array of difficulties that exist participants also identified several reasons for optimism.