Disability as a Colonial Construct: The Missing Discourse of Culture in Conceptualizations of Disabled Indigenous Children

Ineese-Nash, Nicole
Canadian Journal of Disability Studies

This paper explores the concept of disability through a critical disability lens to understand how Indigenous ontologies are positioned within the dominant discourse of disabled peoples in Canada. This paper draws on the inherent knowledge of Indigenous (predominantly Anishinaabek) communities through an integration of story and relational understandings from Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, and community members. Indigenous perspectives paired with academic literature illustrate the dichotomous viewpoints that position Indigenous peoples, most often children, as ‘disabled’ within mainstream institutions, regardless of individual designation. Such positioning suggests that the label of disability is a colonial construct that conflicts with Indigenous perspectives of community membership and perpetuates assimilation practices which maintain colonial harm.