Why Addressing the Over-Representation of First Nations Children in Care Requires New Theoretical Approaches Based on First Nations Ontology

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The Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp. 1-18.

The author posits that Western theoretical approaches influencing child welfare practice and legislation have not adequately addressed the over-representation of First Nations children in the child welfare system. She outlines connecting principles between First Nations cultures in Canada and describes the ways these principles are different from those embedded within Western ontology. Such First Nations principles include an expansive understanding of space, dimensions of reality and time whereby “the past, present and future are mutually influencing”; the belief that human experiences are part of the natural world; and that ancestral knowledge is accurate and valuable (p.3). The author also examines the cross cultural validity, capacity to respond to structural child welfare risk and testability of ecological theory, anti-oppressive approaches, and structural theory - theories that have been influential within child welfare practice. The author argues that these theories are too narrow to appropriately address First Nations cultures and realities particularly in terms of reflecting First Nations ontology. She proposes that theoretical development within Western physics more accurately reflects First Nations principles and may serve to inform more effective child welfare interventions within First Nations communities.

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Canadian CW research
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