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Ecofeminism and First Nations Peoples in Canada: Linking culture, gender and nature

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Many ecofeminists see women's subordination as a result of linking women with nature. Thus one of their tasks has been to unravel the underlying dualistic structure of the categories ‘women' and ‘nature' and to argue for a reconceptualization of these categories. However, there exist amongst ecofeminists epistemological differences pertaining to the ways in which the women–nature connection should be addressed. Spiritual ecofeminists argue that the connection between women and nature is worth reclaiming and celebrating. In contrast, social ecofeminists contend that the connection represents a patriarchal artifice that reinforces oppression. In support of both perspectives, ‘Western' ecofeminists have invoked the cultural beliefs and histories of Aboriginal peoples. Such use of Aboriginal beliefs and experiences within much of Western ecofeminist discourses is partial and uninformed. In this article an alternative approach is offered—one that emphasizes the importance of listening to Aboriginal voices describing contemporary connections to nature. Aboriginal voices are presented in the context of in-depth interviews conducted with Anishinabek (Ojibway and Odawa peoples) living in one First Nations community and three cities in Ontario, Canada. The interviews highlight the importance of listening to Anishinabek describe their connections to Mother Earth (nature) as they reveal counter-narratives that offer the potential to reconcile spiritual and social ecofeminism and to reconceptualize nature (Mother Earth) as an active and dynamic agent. Such counter-narratives may improve current understandings of gender–nature connections within Western ecofeminisms.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Toronto at Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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