Knowledge Resources & Publications

ISBN (Print) :978-1-988426-31-0 | ISBN (Online) :978-1-988426-32-7

Indigenous Communities and Family Violence: Changing the conversation

September 2017

Critically engaging with dominant frameworks and discourses

This report includes a critical discourse analysis of Canadian literature on Indigenous family violence over a fifteen year period (2000-2015). A number of themes were identified and used to structure the examination of the literature, including: naming violence, defining family violence, rates of violence, analysis of gender and sexuality, causes of violence, colonization, normalization, silence and hiding violence, family, health, geographic considerations, and solutions.

Specifically, as stated by the authors, Drs. Cindy Holmes and Sarah Hunt, the discussion paper is centred on “critically engaging with dominant frameworks and discourses around ‘family violence’ in the context of ongoing colonialism and Indigenous resurgence; bringing community voices into conversation with existing literature on ‘Aboriginal family violence’ to illuminate connections, gaps, and future directions; and refocusing conversations about ‘family violence’ using a decolonial social determinants framework, in order to redefine ‘family’ and ‘violence’ to reflect the diverse realities of all Indigenous people, including those who are marginalized within their own communities (ie. lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and Two-Spirit people and youth).”

The report concludes by providing six key principles that can be used to inform future family violence initiatives. These principles are rooted in Indigenous self-determination and decolonization and include:

  • 1. Recognition of ongoing colonialism and dispossession
  • 2. Locate risk within colonial systems
  • 3. Foster self-determination of individuals, families and communities
  • 4. Indigenous gender-based analysis
  • 5. Localized solutions
  • 6. Kinship systems as integral to Indigenous law


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