Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Social Work


Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies.




This research study explores how pollution from surrounding petro-chemical industry affects how aboriginal people on the Aamjiwnaang First Nation reserve construct their understandings of the land, the environment, and themselves as people. The residents are aware of the pollution around them, especially since tests of soil and water demonstrate high levels of toxic by-products of the industry. Traditionally, the self, land and spirituality formed coherent constructions of understanding the aboriginal self. Aboriginal people have a strong connection to their land and the environment as it forms part of their spirituality as well as relied upon for their modes of sustenance. This study is guided by Arthur Kleinman's ecological model that looks at perceptions of health from a cross-cultural perspective, within the context of the professional, popular and folk domains. A qualitative research design was used to explore how the Aamjiwnaang people understand environmental contaminants, and how they balance these threats to the land with their identity, spirituality and culture. Eighteen interviews were conducted with residents of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation ranging in age from 41 to 59. This research provides insight into the identity construction of aboriginal people, and how the Aamjiwnaang people in particular are finding ways to maintain their culture and sense of self when their land is plagued with toxicity. This research found that the Aamjiwnaang people understand health and environmental contamination from within the popular and folk domains, relying on their ties to their community, family and obligations, as well as their indigenous knowledge sources and value systems. Their everyday stories about their changing lifestyle and foods/consumption patterns illuminated how the health and well-being of their people have been deeply affected by ground and airborne contamination, forcing them to fight back against the destruction to their environment.Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2006 .B43. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 45-01, page: 0168. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2006.