Date of Award


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Sociology and Anthropology


community connections;Indigenous identity;Indigenous rights;Intersectionality;Political participation;Resurgence


Jane Ku


Rebecca Major



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


In the current political climate, the efforts of Indigenous women in the advancement of Indigenous rights have not gone unnoticed. Particularly, in 2012 the Idle No More movement gained attention across Canada and throughout the world, with Indigenous women front and centre, leading the fight against the destruction of land and working towards advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples. Importantly, the ways in which Indigenous women engage politically has continued to evolve and there is a need to document and understand the changes that are occurring. This research seeks to examine the changes in political participation among Indigenous women by looking at the influence that identity and community connections have on political involvement. Employing the theories of both intersectionality and Indigenous resurgence, the material presented examines the personal experiences of Indigenous women to gain a better understanding of what motivates them to become involved, what barriers they face, and how they have participated. This research uses the voices and experiences of Indigenous women to show how identity and community impact their political participation. It is shown that through everyday acts of resistance, Indigenous women contribute to wider collective goals of Indigenous resurgence. Indigenous women’s motivation is rooted in their identity and based on the need to address colonialism and provide a more sustainable environment for future generations. A multi- methods approach is used, that included surveys and interviews. Indigenous women over the age of 18-years-old and residing in Canada were sought out for participation. A total of 86 surveys were collected and analyzed. Surveys were used to let those involved guide the issues that would be explored further during the interviews. By using quantitative and qualitative research methods, a decolonizing framework has been employed to properly account for the experiences of Indigenous women. Originally, interviews were to be done in-person. However, as a result of the global pandemic, participants were able to choose to be interviewed over the phone or via video call. A total of 13 interviews were conducted over the phone. Findings show that identity is a highly contested topic among Indigenous women that plays an important role in how they participate. Identity and political participation have a mutually beneficial relationship. In other words, identity encourages participation, and participation supports identity. While identity can be a motivating factor in how one participates politically, providing support and encouragement, it can also discourage participation through feelings of not belonging. Community connections were shown to have only a positive influence on political participation, providing individuals with a network of support and producing more opportunities for involvement. However, one does not need to have a connection to the community to participate politically, and having a connection does not guarantee participation. Overall, both community connections and identity are shown to influence the political participation of Indigenous women in different ways. It is demonstrated throughout this research that Indigenous women are continually engaging in everyday acts of resistance with a wider goal of Indigenous resurgence. It is hoped that by finding out what motivates and deters participation among Indigenous women, efforts can be directed towards reducing barriers and developing programs that increase motivation for involvement.

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