Aboriginal organizational response to the need for culturally appropriate services in three small Canadian cities

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Publication details

Sookraj, D, Hutchinson, P, Evans, M & Murphy, MA 2012, 'Aboriginal organizational response to the need for culturally appropriate services in three small Canadian cities', Journal of Social Work, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 136-157.

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Summary: This component of a larger participatory qualitative case study investigated how urban Aboriginal human service organizations respond to the needs of the growing Aboriginal populations residing in three small cities in the Interior region of British Columbia, Canada. The study focused specifically on the challenges that the organizations experienced in delivering health and social services, and in facilitating access to mainstream services. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight senior administrators from seven urban Aboriginal organizations.

Findings: Participants reported numerous barriers to delivering adequate and culturally appropriate services. Their organizations were challenged to provide a complex array of services to a culturally diverse urban Aboriginal population. Moreover, these organizations operated in turbulent economic, institutional and political environments, which presented additional challenges in several areas: recruiting and retaining qualified Aboriginal staff; securing funding; meeting different and conflicting accountability requirements; using political influence; and linking with both mainstream organizations and local Aboriginal communities.

Applications: Fundamental tensions between the existing specialized and expert-based, mainstream system and Aboriginal service providers’ holistic approach to well-being are apparent. Implications for future research, policy and practice needed to promote the development of culturally appropriate and responsive services are discussed.

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