Our Land, Our Language: Connecting Dispossession and Health Equity in an Indigenous Context


  • Helen J. Brown
  • Gladys McPherson
  • Ruby Peterson
  • Vera Newman
  • Barbara Cranmer


For contemporary Indigenous people, colonial relations (past and present) intersect with neoliberal policies and practices to create subtle forms of dispossession. These undermine the health of Indigenous peoples and create barriers restricting access to appropriate health services. Integrating insights from the critical geographer David Harvey, the authors demonstrate how the dispossession of land and language threaten health and well-being and worsen existing illness conditions. Drawing on the qualitative findings from a program of communitybased research with the 'Namgis First Nation in the Canadian province of British Columbia, the authors argue for an account of how neoliberal mechanisms operate to further the "accumulation by dispossession" associated with historical and ongoing colonialism. Specifically, they show how neoliberal ideologies operate to sustain medical colonialism and health inequities for Indigenous peoples. The authors discuss the implications for nursing actions to achieve health equity in rural First Nations communities.