Indigenous North Americans continue to be overrepresented among those who are poor, unemployed, and with low levels of education. This has long been an issue of concern for Indigenous people and their allies and is now drawing the attention of government, business leaders, and others who know that this fast-growing population is a critical source of future labour. Shauna MacKinnon’s Decolonizing Employment: Aboriginal Inclusion in Canada’s Labour Market is a case study with lessons applicable to communities throughout North America. Her examination of Aboriginal labour market participation outlines the deeply damaging, intergenerational effects of colonial policies and describes how a neoliberal political economy serves to further exclude Indigenous North Americans.
MacKinnon’s work demonstrates that a fundamental shift in policy is required. Long-term financial support for comprehensive, holistic education and training programs that integrate cultural reclamation and small supportive learning environments is needed if we are to improve social and economic outcomes and support the spiritual and emotional healing that Aboriginal learners tell us is of primary importance.