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Rebuilding Identities and Renewing Relationships: The Necessary Consolidation of Deficit- and Strength-based Discourses

Kimberly Matheson


In bringing attention to the historical victimization and continued discrimination associated with colonialist actions and paternalistic policies, Indigenous peoples in Canada employ both deficit- (disadvantages and gaps) and strength-based (empowerment and assets) discourses. These discourses have implications for the evolution of Indigenous identity, the reactions of non-Indigenous Canadians, and for the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Using a social identity framework, an analysis of these implications is presented, followed by consideration of strategies for integrating deficit and strength-based discourses to achieve social justice and multicultural equality.


deficit- vs. strength-based discourses; social identity theory; identity; intergroup relations; Canada; Indigenous health

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