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Why Urban Aboriginals Report Being Happy: C.D. Howe Institute

July 5, 2012

TORONTO, July 5, 2012 /CNW/ – Aboriginals living in Canadian cities
report high rates of happiness based on their income, education, and
network of personal relationships, according to a new report from the
C.D. Howe Institute. In “Breaking the Stereotype: Why Urban Aboriginals
Score Highly on ‘Happiness’ Measures,” authors Dominique Gross and 
John Richards examine why, on average, urban Aboriginals are as “happy”
as other Canadians and recommend policies to help more Aboriginals
successfully make the transition to city life.

“The fact that the results are similar for Aboriginals and for all
Canadians will be surprising to anyone whose image of urban Aboriginals
is limited to those living in the poorest neighbourhoods of Canada’s
cities,” notes Richards. “Although poverty and unhappiness exist among
urban Aboriginals, those conditions are far from the whole story of
urban Aboriginal life.”

In their report, the authors analyze the results of a disarmingly simple
question: “Overall, are you happy with your life?”, one of many
questions posed in a 2009 survey by the Environics Institute of a large
sample of Aboriginals living in 11 Canadian cities. The highest share
of “very happy” urban Aboriginals was in Vancouver (65 percent) and
lowest in Montreal (52 percent). Analyzing the reported characteristics
of survey respondents, the authors find a positive health assessment
increases perceived happiness, as do stable personal relationships.
Having a university degree or college diploma and higher income also
increases happiness. Finally, community life matters. Feeling a close
connection to other First Nations people and having friends increased
happiness significantly; the effect independent of whether the friends
were Aboriginal.

These results do not mean that urban Canada is the best of all possible
worlds for Aboriginals or that all Aboriginals should “go to town” –
the reserve should remain an option for those First Nations who opt for
it, say the authors. They do suggest, however, the need for policy
innovation to facilitate the rural-to-urban transition of Aboriginals
who choose to move, primarily by focusing on labour force participation
and education outcomes.

They note many countries have experimented with strategies to improve
job information and links with employers, such as “one-stop shops”
developed through the cooperation of various government agencies, and
business involvement in training, mentoring, and labour market advice -
in particular for students in high school. Regarding education policy,
they emphasize the importance of access to early childhood education
for children from marginalized communities and the need for provincial
education ministries to promote discretionary Aboriginal education
initiatives at the school district level, which has proven successful
in British Columbia.

The C. D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research
institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering
economically sound public policies. It is Canada’s trusted source of
essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is
nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review. It
is considered by many to be Canada’s most influential think tank.

For the report go to:

http://www.cdhowe.org/breaking-the-stereotype-why-urban-aboriginals-score-highly-on-happiness-measures/18181

SOURCE C.D. Howe Institute


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