The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996) and the two chapters from Tom Flanagan’s book First Nations? Second Thoughts (2000) present two very different views on how the relationship between Aboriginal people and the Canadian government ought to be structured. Flanagan essentially takes an assimilationist position, arguing that the disadvantages Aboriginal peoples currently experience within Canadian society (e.g., poverty, addiction, unemployment, domestic abuse, lack of education, overrepresentation in the criminal justice system) that currently cost taxpayers approximately $9-10 billion per year are only exacerbated by the colonialist reserve system that serves to isolate and alienate. His solution is to disband the reserves and have Aboriginal peoples move to areas where they can access education, services, and employment that will help them address these issues and integrate into society. The RCAP, on the other hand, promotes the idea of self-governance (e.g., the reintroduction of traditional authority structures, control over education, health care, housing, employment and particularly economic development and resource management) for Aboriginal peoples to help them address the issues they are facing within their own communities while maintaining their culture and ties to their traditional territories. Given all that you have learned, including the situation of the Innu people, the implementation of the Nisga’a Treaty, the Delgamuukw and Tsilhqot’in decisions, the Flanagan and RCAP readings, and the research you will do to support your position, what place in our society do you think Canada’s First Nations people should occupy in the 21st century? Should they become more integrated into the mainstream culture, which would require a fundamental restructuring of the reserve system, a potential loss of culture and ongoing federal administration, or distance themselves from it by gaining self-governance and autonomy from federal patronage and re-establishing their traditional communities? You will need to pick a side here, and I don’t just want your opinion – you will need to provide solid evidence for your argument and counterargument, which means you will need to do some research (you can use the class notes, online posts, other online sources, journal articles, books, etc.) and you will need to cite your sources properly in the text of your paper. GUIDELINES:
Your assignments will be assessed using two broad criteria: 1) how well you demonstrate an understanding of and ability to apply the sociological concepts relating to the question; 2) how well you argue for the thesis of your essay, including how well you handle possible criticisms of your argument.
Structure: Your paper needs to have: a brief introduction with a clear thesis statement Your thesis statement is a single, short sentence that states precisely what you want to prove. It should clearly state which side of the argument you will be taking – in other words, your answer to the question being posed. Your whole introduction should be at most two to three sentences. a main body (argument and counterargument) In the main body of your paper, you will argue for your conclusion and present opposing arguments/counterarguments. Your task here is to convince the reader that your thesis is correct through the method of rational persuasion. You need to provide the reader with some good reasons to think your thesis is correct; in order to do so, you also must address potential criticisms of your argument in your counterargument (this should be a separate paragraph or paragraphs in the main body of your paper), and follow this up by giving the reader reason to think that the criticism fails to undermine your argument. Common errors to avoid: Overestimating the strength of your own position. You may feel that it is clear that your thesis is true, and therefore you don’t need to present much argumentation to support it. However, your reader may disagree. Thinking that your case will be stronger if you mention, even briefly, virtually every argument in support of your position. Known as the “fortress approach” or more commonly, “kitchen sinking,” this approach is usually not effective for the following reasons: Your reader will find it difficult to keep track of so many different arguments, especially if they approach the topic from different directions. The ones that will stand out will be the very best ones and the very worst ones; as such, only the one or two most compelling arguments should be developed. Including the weaker ones only gives the impression that you are unable to tell the difference between the strong and the weak. You only have 1,000 words and including too many different arguments will result in your covering nothing in-depth and everything superficially. Your paper will lack cohesion and focus and your conclusion will be unclear. a brief conclusion This is a single, brief paragraph at the end where you summarize the arguments you’ve made in the main body and stating the significance of your argument or position overall. You should not be raising any new arguments or points here.
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