Article Title

Navigating Structural Violence with Indigenous Families: The Contested Terrain of Early Childhood Intervention and the Child Welfare System in Canada


Internationally, the welfare of Indigenous children continues to be severely compromised by their involvement with child welfare authorities. In this context, there are calls for greater investment in early childhood programs to support family preservation and children’s well-being. This article reports on the findings from a critical qualitative inquiry undertaken with Aboriginal Infant Development Programs (AIDPs) in Canada. The findings highlight how AIDP workers’ relational approaches countered Indigenous mothers’ experiences of feeling "like a bad parent" as a result of their involvement with the child welfare system and how workers navigated an increasingly close relationship with this system. We draw on the concept of structural violence to discuss the impact of the child welfare system on Indigenous families and AIDPs.


We extend our sincere appreciation to all the participants in this study who generously shared their time and knowledge. We also wish to recognize Dr. Melinda Suto at the University of British Columbia and Dr. Margo Greenwood at the University of Northern British Columbia for their contributions to the larger study on which this article is based. Development of this paper was supported in part by a doctoral award held by the first author with the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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