Moving beyond the Simple: Addressing the “Misuse” of the FASD-Gang Link in Public Discourse


The processes of colonization have created specific images and spaces for Indigenous peoples in contemporary Canadian society. Many of these labels are negative, casting Indigenous peoples and communities as deviant. This is particularly true when discussing the issues of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and gangs. Research into this issue has focused, particularly in the prairie provinces, on Indigenous peoples and communities, creating a link between FASD individuals and street gang members. The problem with this link is that it maintains a control of Indigenous bodies, and seeks to explain street gang involvement through a biomedical interpretation of reality. As a result, social factors and health determinants, such as housing, food, belonging, etc. are ignored. This paper examines how media and researchers have accepted the link of FASD with gangs, constructing a continued colonial fear of Indigenous peoples. Using the biomedical explanation linking street gang involvement and FASD, communities can absolve themselves from responsibility for social factors of street gang involvement, and maintain the blame on Indigenous communities for their own actions of alcohol addiction.

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