Mary relates to Canadian women’s history.The work of

Mary Jane McCallum’s book, Indigenous Women, Work, and History, 1940-1980, clearly demonstrated the struggles that many Aboriginal women experienced in obtaining work between 1940 to 1980. Her arguments are based both on data and narrative. Her evidence in the book is convincing of the types of work that Aboriginal women have done in the past, and their treatment. McCallum uses both primary and secondary sources in her book. Some of her primary sources consist of archival records, and interviews and correspondence. She also uses published primary sources such as radio, film and television, print media, government documents, theses, dissertations, unpublished papers, and websites. For secondary sources, she uses peer reviewed articles. The book is structured with chapters, with each one having its own case study of the type of work that Aboriginal women participated in. In her book, she delves into details about the programs implemented for Aboriginal women to find work and their treatment in their workplaces along the way. The introduction tells us about her methodological approach and her thesis, and the chapters discuss Aboriginal women’s work in the domestic field, the Placement and Relocation Program, the work of CHRs, and Aboriginal women in health care and nursing. The main focus of this book review is to summarize its contents, analyze the thesis, introduction, conclusion, and methodological approach, and to explain the merit of this book as to how it relates to Canadian women’s history.The work of Indigenous women had dramatic shifts between the years of 1940-1980. Their work started as domestic labourers in homes and hospitals, then shifted to the trades of hairdressing, continued on to Community Health Representatives, and finally nursing. Indigenous women had two forms of domestic labour, according to McCallum, which were, ” federally run, segregated Indian schools and hospitals and the homes of the non-local and mostly itinerant workforce of church and government officials; and domestic work that occured in private homes, hotels, and tourist resorts, non-Indian hospitals, and home for the elderly.” Part of the Indian education for girls was domestic science which taught them how to be “civilized” people. Teaching the female students was assumed to prepare them for their future of doing domestic work as servants in homes, and to do labour to run the residential institutions. An experiment, known as the Ottawa experiment, wanted to place young Aboriginal women in domestic services because of the demand of domestic service at the time and because they thought that the young women would benefit from the program. Upon acceptance into the program, agents and principals would first ask the family of the young women if she could participate, but if the department found that the family was unstable for the young woman, they would go ahead and find a home for her to do domestic work in. The goal of the domestic service was to keep Aboriginal women and white men away from each other, which meant limiting the free time of the women while they were in Ottawa. The government then formed the Indian Placement and Relocation Program which was formed to place Aboriginal women in permanent positions of domestic work. The job of the placement officers was to recruit candidates and find out what what kind of help the candidate needed, what type of work was suitable for them, and collect data on what jobs and housing were available. The book then focused on the Community Health Representatives which were, “public health educators who promote well-being and access to services by applying specific skills in a community’s language and culture.” Their responsibilities were to get their community members to use the Indian health programs implemented at the time and to teach the community about health education. Next, Aboriginal women worked as nurses to demonstrate their self-determination and their caring for the health of other Aboriginal people. An organization called Registered Nurses of Canadian Indian Ancestry wanted to promote the work of Aboriginal nurses and acknowledge those who have contributed. The organization recognized the work of the Aboriginal women and this allowed the women to move up in the field of nursing. McCallum’s thesis is “By looking at the history of Native domestics, hairdressers, community health representatives, and nurses, I hope to illuminate how Aboriginal women’s wage labour was shaped by the politics of modernity and the state. In so doing, I hope to also challenge common narratives of Aboriginal displacement in the twentieth century.” McCallum’s work is inspired by Aboriginal Women’s histories. She is “invested in reshaping modern Aboriginal history in ways that engage with Native and Indigenous Studies, gender and women’s history, labour history, medical/health history and histories of race in Canada.” Her methodological approach in the book was to use interviews and written records. She also uses a feminist approach to evaluate the CHR program and its history. The feminist approach is also used to demonstrate that the concept of femininity and masculinity have constructed inequalities in job opportunities for Aboriginal women and men. She uses four case studies that each talk about different types of work available to Aboriginal women. Her main focus when starting her research was the work of Aboriginal health and the federal health policy after the war, but then began to do research on Aboriginal nursing. McCallum’s conclusion reevaluates all of the subjects that are talked about in her book. She concludes that many of the Aboriginal women who worked as domestic workers only did so for a small amount of time. Her focus on the Placement and Relocation Program is significant because she established the issues relationships between the agents and the women. Many women decided to find work on their own instead of going through the program because they found it was easier to do so. This book is relevant to this class because it discusses the history of Aboriginal women and work. It demonstrates how women have come along in the workforce and fought for their positions. In the 1940s, many women worked as domestic workers, being hired to do domestic work for other people. Many did not get paid very much if anything at all. The implementation of the Placement and Relocation Program was of use to some Aboriginal women, but not all. Becoming familiar with this program, and the Community Health Representatives is useful to student studying women’s history because it validates the struggles that Aboriginal women had to go through. For some time, Aboriginal women were not allowed to be CHRs because female applicants were only accepted if they were over the age of thirty five, therefore, men were the dominant employees. Learning about the history of Aboriginal women is important so that people will realize that Aboriginal men and women were not just victims of residential schools and slavery, they are victims of racism and are constantly being taken advantage of by our governments with matters of unequal pay and exploitation. This review was based on summarizing the book’s contents, analyzing the thesis, the methodological approach, and conclusion, and evaluating the merit of the book and how it relates to a women’s history class. The books structure was by chapters centered around four case studies about Aboriginal women’s work in the domestic field, the Placement and Relocation Program, Community Health Representatives, and Aboriginal nursing. McCallum uses primary sources and secondary sources to back up her statements in the book. She has convincing evidence to back up her claims through the means of data and narratives. McCallum allows readers to imagine the hard work that Aboriginal women had to do to get to where they are today. Her book is a great demonstration of the struggles endured by Aboriginal women. BibliographyMcCallum, Mary Jane Logan, Indigenous Women, Work, and History, 1940-1980, University ofManitoba Press, Mary Jane McCallum | History , The University of Winnipeg. 2018 onlineAvailable at:


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