Urban Indians, THe Strangers in Canadian Cities

Publisher:  Hurtig Publishers Ltd, Edmonton, Canada
Year Published:  1980  
Pages:  157pp   Price:  9.95  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX2233

Native People are migrating from the reserves to urban areas in increasingly large numbers.

Abstract:  Native People are migrating from the reserves to urban areas in increasingly large numbers. Many of them, those with little money and few sills, find that they must "endure a treacherous day-to-day existence" in a hostile environment. Others, who have education and skills are able to 'succeed with life's economic necessities". Both kinds of stories are included in this book which explores the experiences of native people and those responding to them as they migrate to and settle in urban areas in Canada.

The author focuses his attention on three cities: Regina, Edmonton and Winnipeg. In each the native population is increasing rapidly. About 20% of Regina's 160,000 people are Native Indians. Some estimates suggest that there will be 100,000 urban Indians in Winnipeg by 1985. In both Regina and Winnipeg, there has been significant community tension in relation to the increase in numbers of migrants. In the late1970's, there were clashes between groups of Native People and police in Regina.

The author gives the migration to these cities 'a face' by telling the stories of people like Aldina Piche. She is a Cree woman who left the Cold Lake Reserve after Esso and the Department of Defence bought most of the land that had been used by her family for trapping. Aldina is now the director of a Native job replacement program. The author also interviewed David and Rose who are surviving on Edmonton's Boyle Street and Bev who is developing some bookkeeping skills with the help of a job with the Regina native Women's Association.

Included with numerous personal stories are also some descriptions of the severe problems faced by many urban Indians in housing, schooling, employment, relationships with the police and social services. Much of this description is developed by interview ing key actors in change of efforts or services such as Alice Hansen from Edmonton's Boyle Street Coop; Ed Kempling, United Church Native Concerns in Regina and Alan Howison, Winnipeg Foundation. The author concludes by stressing that he sees this migration as inevitable, leading to a new urban "ethnic group". He sees a major difference between the experience of Native People and that of other ethnic groups, however. The long history of racism and domination are likely to continue to generate tensions between Natives and non-Natives in Canadian cities.

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