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The views expressed by speakers in Humanist Canada webinars are their own and are not endorsed by Humanist Canada. We aim to provide a platform for a wide range of topics and perspectives, including those of scholars, activists, industry experts, civil servants, and journalists.
Understanding the Aboriginal Self

Webinar Series 2020: Understanding Aboriginal Self From A Humanist Lens

Understanding Aboriginal Self From A Humanist Lens

With Dr. Lloyd Robertson, University of Regina

Humanism presupposes the existence of a self capable of exercising individual volition. Such a self is fluid and evolving because as our understandings of reality change, our self-definition within that reality must change as well.

Notions of aboriginal cultural reclamation and healing presuppose the existence of distinctly aboriginal selves that were damaged or lost in a process of colonization and that can be “restored”. Such a paradigm is based on an essentialist view of what it means to be aboriginal, with the self fixed and immutable in some ways.

This presentation examines the selves of five contemporary individuals with varying relationships to the concept of aboriginality using a method of mapping the self developed by the speaker. It is suggested that a spectrum of healthy selves is possible for people who either identify with aboriginality culturally or satisfy a racial definition of the concept, and such a view is compatible with humanism.

Dr. Lloyd Robertson is Lead Psychologist with the Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety at the University of Regina. He has published on the structure of the self, Indian residential schools, prior learning assessment and its effects on self-development, the aboriginal self, cultural structures that may function as a “mind viruses,” and self-mapping in treating suicide ideation and other mental health conditions. He is currently Vice-President of Humanist Canada.


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