Most writing on Aboriginal self-determination focuses on the constitutional or structural aspects of self-government or related philosophical issues. In this book, Wayne Warry argues that self-government can be realized only when individuals are secure in their cultural identity and can contribute to the transformation of their communities. Warry draws on his research among Anishnawbe communities, as well as on the reports and recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Case studies are used to illustrate the processes of community development and cultural revitalization that are essential precursors to self-government. Warry's notion of 'community healing' involves efforts to rebuild the human foundations for self-governing Aboriginal societies. The book analyses key areas such as health care and the judicial and political systems where Aboriginal peoples are engaged in practical, everyday struggles to improve their communities. Central to these Aboriginal approaches to change is the need for holistic solutions to complex social problems.
The search for these solutions is set against the broader political environment, which includes Euro-Canadian assumptions, government policy, and post-colonial practices. The book also addresses the nature of applied social scientific research in Aboriginal communities and the need for collaborative, culturally appropriate research methods.
Wayne Warry is an applied medical anthropologist and Associate Professor of Anthropology at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. He has 20 years experience working with and for various Aboriginal organizations, First Nations, Tribal Councils, and government ministries. He is the author of Ending Denial: Understanding Aboriginal Issues (University of Toronto Press, 2007).