Society for the Anthropology of North America
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
“Being told no” is a common experience for those living in remote Indigenous communities in western Canada, as they navigate the multitude of barriers that encompass a systemic inequity in access to basic health services (Reading & Wien 2013). In listening to the subjective narrative accounts of health care experiences, there is often a sense of apathy towards the health system and its ability to effectively remedy chronic health conditions in remote communities. While these accounts exemplify to some degree a biopolitical process of subjectivation (Foucault 1973; Kelm 1998; Stevenson 2014), I argue that such a perspective can also be limiting. A strictly biopolitical perspective on colonial health systems neglects the relational (Gandhi 1998; Levinas 2002) acts of care within communities and between clients and “their” health care providers. Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork within a self-determining Indigenous health care provider, I have found that these everyday relational acts of care serve to reinvigorate community-based approaches to wellness, support self-management of chronic illnesses, and stand in defiance to the colonial biopolitical history of health service delivery in Indigenous communities.