Sharing the Story: Canadian First Nations and Traveller Community Development

By Helen Lewis and Andrea Williams.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

At the 6th International Conference on Diversity in 2006, participants from Northern Ireland and Canada had the opportunity to meet and discuss parallels between Irish Travellers in Northern Ireland and First Nations People in Canada. First Nations community development workers from Canada subsequently travelled to Northern Ireland to facilitate a series of workshops with a range of Irish Traveller organisations and Irish Travellers themselves. This paper discusses the impact and potential of this exchange between indigenous marginalised groups. It begins with an overview of the Irish Traveller and First Nations populations in Northern Ireland and Canada, as well as various policy responses to them. The paper then highlights some of the discussions that have taken place during Sharing The Story project activities – many of which have centred on improving community development practices and influencing effective public policy in relation to Irish Travellers. The interaction between First Nations people and Travellers has also opened up valuable space to explore new approaches to achieving positive change for Irish Travellers. This paper argues that this type of dialogue presents a useful alternative to the highly polarised debate that often takes place about the assimilation or integration of Travellers.

Keywords: Indigenous People, First Nations, Irish Travellers, Community Development, Assimilation, Segregation, Integration, Northern Ireland, Canada, Diversity

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.59-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 629.842KB).

Helen Lewis

Policy and Practice Coordinator, Policy and Practice Unit, Londonderry, UK

Helen Lewis is Policy/Practice Co-ordinator at INCORE. She leads a range of projects and programmes aimed at making INCORE's research more accessible to policymakers and practitioners, and improving peacebuilding policies and practices on the ground in Northern Ireland and internationally. Helen previously managed INCORE's Local International Learning Project and the Diversity and Conflict Management strand of the Northern Ireland Centre for European Co-operation. Before coming to INCORE, Helen worked in conflict resolution at Search for Common Ground in Washington DC and in international development based in Sub-Saharan Africa. She spent a year in the United States as a Fulbright Scholar completing her MA in International Relations at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University. Helen also has an MA in History from the University of Edinburgh

Andrea Williams

Owner/Senior Analyst, Canada

Andrea Williams has 22 years experience in working with Aboriginal communities in Canada and 12 years experience with research, assessment and evaluation with Aboriginal organizations and programs in the Aboriginal community. She has graduated with a Master’s Degree in Native Studies and amassed extensive knowledge of Aboriginal culture, communications, language, history and issues. A member of Sandy Lake First Nation, Ms. Williams established a network of contacts in Aboriginal Provincial Territorial Organizations for on-reserve and off-reserve interests, with strengths in identifying, developing and nurturing critical stakeholder relationships to encourage integration and coordination of research, performance measures and impact analysis.


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