Aboriginal Family Structure
The Aboriginal culture is the former contemporary culture in the world. It has been certainly demonstrated that Aboriginal people from the past to the present have a spiritual view of life, which has deprive and will maintain to shape their cultural beliefs and values. The Aboriginal culture today is the combined result of traditional cultural practices, forced consumption, adaptation to Australian mainstream with various responses to compulsion and dissolution, which has developed a level of apprehension between community factions throughout Australia. This suspicion has led to a level of competitiveness between the factions within Aboriginal communities; in addition they choose only that can they trust. According to the Aboriginal community, they vote with their feet. It implicates that if they do not like something or someone, they will honestly walk away from it or the person.
The term aboriginal has been used for hundreds of years, as early as the seventeenth century, to distinguish the native society of areas that were explored and colonized. Other term for aboriginal is Indigenous defined as those born or originated naturally in a land or region. Aboriginal people's must cooperate equally in political decision-making, as well as possess control over their economies, lands, education and social health services. The past is still fervently alive in the current moment and will abide so into the future. This principle is very much related to the topic of family structure in aboriginal families in Canada because it directs the tenets of origin, which correlates to the current structure of modern aboriginal family. However, society and culture evolves through time, which also entails the significant chance in family values including those of the Canadian aboriginals. History, politics and economy all contribute to the shaping of the aboriginal family structure in Canada.
Changes in Aboriginal Family Structure, Customs and Values
The history shaped the expectations of the aboriginal family and of the other family members because family is the root of civilizations and generally regarded as a subfield of social history. Civilization in history depends on the family system for their survival, which required accommodation to expected family aspect depending on their living contingencies. This authorizes a family strong dominance over its member. Expectation also learned from our parents or adults raise us. We learn these through couching, watching or observing them. However, when time goes on we can start internalize the values and expectations for many reasons. Since we spend almost all the time with our families, they are constitutional adult who influence our character and expectation for ourselves.
Aboriginal people have developed an intelligent form of lifestyle, which allowed them to live in harmony with the land. This is reflected in the understanding of themselves. Aboriginal provides unity and coherence of people, nature, land, and time (Pattel, 2007). At the early state of Canada, the aboriginal people can be found living in all areas of the country. The early population of the people living in Canada has moved to the Buffalo herd from the prairies dues to the need to hunt for resources such as food, tools and clothing. While those who lived on Canada's coasts depended on fishing and hunting. It appears that the first Canadian aboriginals have spent their lives mostly hunting and growing food crops (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 1999). However, in this modern times the majority of the aboriginal populations are now living in secluded areas and reserves and no longer engaged in the same living conditions as before (Craigmarlatt.com, N.D.).
As soon as the English and the French traders reached the country, most of them have married the natives and engaged in fur trade. The new generation of settlers in Canada and the children of the married foreigners and natives became the now called Metis. The Metis thrived in the trade of fur and settled back in the prairies to establish their own culture. The thriving culture of the Metis and the other aboriginal tribes in Canada was interrupted by the arrival of the Europeans who made treaties with the original settlers. The treaties signed by the Europeans and the aboriginals can be assumed as deceiving because it constitutes a complete surrender of the aboriginal’s land and titles in exchange for certain rights and benefits. In addition, pieces of land awarded to the Aboriginal people are mostly limited. The awarded pieces of lands that are now referred to as “reserves” are the only thing that the aboriginals are only allowed to use. In this modern era, the Aboriginal groups are still fighting to claim the rights of their land and the Canadian government is not stopping to negotiate favorable terms to the aboriginals in terms of giving back their rights to the lands that were once theirs (thecanadapage.org, N.D.).
The apparent changes in the Aboriginal Canadian family structure is commanded by theoretical tenets that explains the relationship of each individual to his society. Under the principles of symbolic interaction, the relationship of individuals within their society. This angle is centered on the belief that communication or the exchange of meaning through verbal and non-verbal communications is how people make sense in the social race.
- Humans react according the meaning they ascribed to situation
- The meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with others and the society (Rice, N.D.).
These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters (OpenStax College, 2012). Conflict theory on the other hand, explains the changes in the family structure of aboriginal Canadians based on society as being made up of individuals who must contend for social and material resources (OpenStax College, 2012).
In terms of family formation, families were acutely imposed within the community, and emotional attachment was not affiliate with family life.
- Family Structure – Sociology does not offer any anticipating theory about the forms the family will take, Sociologist has focused on the uprising variation in family types.
- Family Behavior – Gender discrimination is a key theme in feminist sociology, elaborating the behavior of men and women within families, as well in society more generally. As such, discrimination is a cultural occurrence based on prior behavior, the analysis between sex and gender has bearing for many points of family behavior.
Violence within the family
Many sociologists argue that the classic nuclear family has a dark side, which includes violence, sexual abuse and mental illness (Jacobsen et al., 2004).
- Incest and child sexual abuse – Sociology annotate behavior and attitudes as due to socialization in human groups, and the incest taboo is no barring to this basic principle, this functional analysis does not explain the origins of the taboo.
- The Changing family – Sociologists tend to view distortions on family center in structural changes and the loss of its functions. The modern family has lost many of the functions it fulfilled in a pre-industrial age.
A key concern for sociologists is whether different types of family structure lead to socialization failures and problematic life-courses for children (Ambert, 2001 as cited from Jacobsen et al., 2004). The different disciplinary perspectives on the family can ahead to mutually incomprehensible arguments. Where analysts rely on their own discipline. However, the nature and culture of the effects can be hard to predict, as the result may be unintended. Also, the ability of policies to influence the individuals and families can be coercing if it acts counter to other influences.
The Inevitable Changes
There are several misunderstanding of family and how its structure affects the outcome social development and culture. One possible way of comprehending family and its structure is just to define family as it is. Traditionally a family is defined as an image of a married couple and their children. However, it only encompasses the physical definition family and further analysis should be given a greater emphasis including the principles that provides a more in-depth understanding of a family’s composition. In recent years, family and its composition has changed dramatically given the diversity of culture and mix of traditions. The norms of the society constitute a standard image of parents being a male and a female. However, changes in cultural perceptions enabled changes such as same sex parents, fostering, adopting both related and not related by blood.
These changes provides justification to the importance of structure that the society is not only limited to the conventional structure of a family. In relation to the structure of aboriginal Canadian families, eminent changes in social structure also impact the traditional structure of their families. For example, income levels of aboriginal Canadians are generally lower than the minimum waged non-aboriginal. This factor impact families in terms of economic conditions, meaning the fact that goods constantly shifts in terms of pricing, the value of money would either go up or down, This economic behavior affects the aboriginal head of the family and opted to find other earning opportunities to support the family. In a traditional family, the father is the one that is supposed to bring home the bacon. However, economic conditions force other members of the family to take part in the responsibility of contributing financially. This and other factors dramatically affect the structure of the aboriginal families in Canada. According to the Canadian census in 2006, aboriginal children aged 14 and below represents 58% of children still living with both parents, while the rest of the population lives with a single mother or father (thecanadianencyclopedia.com, N.D.).
Given the number of aboriginal families that still has both parents and children living together, it is apparent that a lot of the aboriginal head of the family are obliged to bring home as much earnings as they can. In addition, the aboriginal culture of close family ties among Canadian families is also contributing to their economic and financial struggle. For example, Inuit households have two or more families living together, a married son or daughter often do not leave their parent’s side even after marriage. The same goes with Metis family where single parents also live together in the same household. The misunderstanding of aboriginal Canadian’s culture of family brings them a dilemma that often resulted to a growing number of aboriginal children being taken into custody of the Canadian Social Welfare office. Non-aboriginal social workers see the aboriginal family’s culture as non-conducive to a productive living, which brings them to a conclusion to intervene.
In a nutshell, their fellow non-aboriginal Canadians mostly misunderstands aboriginal families in Canada. This and other factors such as economic and political factors insinuate the changes in the aboriginal family’s structure and eventually forcing them to adhere to the norms of the prevailing culture in the society. However, the existing gaps between economic and social conditions of aboriginal Canadians continue to pose dilemmas to the country in general. The initiative of the Canadian government to determine the combination of social support, employment, health, community culture, history and health for the betterment of the general Canadian population may not be sufficient unless there is a concise understanding of each family unit’s structure, culture and traditional living.
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Jacobsen, V., Fursman, L., Bryant, J., Claridge, M., & Jensen, B. (2004). Theories of the Family and Policy. New Zealand Treasury and Working Paper.
OpenStax College (2012, October 9). Theoretical Perspectives. Connexions - Sharing Knowledge and Building Communities. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://cnx.org/content/m42792/latest/
Pattel, N. (2007). Aboriginal families, cultural context and therapy . Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Health, 3(1).
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