Money and Methodology (cont.)
Lawyer and author Calvin Helin reflects on the same issue from a personal perspective: “I work with a lot of Aboriginal kids who are really poor—and my focus was on making sure we heard those voices in the study. Looking at the data, though, I also saw people who looked like me and my Aboriginal law school classmates. I had been so intent on ensuring these Downtown East Side kids were represented that I almost forgot: I’m part of this picture too.”
Overall, the sample came close to representing the urban Aboriginal population as the census reflects it. Interviewers strove to include marginalized members of Aboriginal communities, conducting interviews with homeless respondents in parks, and going door to door in neighbourhoods where phones were rare. Ultimately, it was identity group representation more than socio-economic representation that proved the greatest challenge: the study set the goal of speaking to equal numbers of Métis and First Nations participants in Western cities and in some cities reaching the Métis sampling targets was a slow process. “I was happy with the effort to get equal representation of First Nations and Métis populations in Western cities,” says Evelyn Peters, Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Saskatchewan. The UAPS reached its Métis representation goals overall, but fell short of its targets in Halifax, Montreal, and Saskatoon.
“This study isn’t perfect,” says Al Benoit of the Manitoba Métis Federation, “But I think there was a heartfelt commitment to understanding the issues that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples are experiencing in the urban environment. As a result, I think this study has given us a baseline to go on. You can always wish for more: more depth, more representation, and so on. This is a good start.”