Author ORCID Identifier

Nelson -

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Publication Title

Political Geography




The political-legal discourse of Indigenous rights continues to be separated from discussions of health care services in geographic scholarship, due to the ways in which political-legal, settler-colonial definitions of rights fail to take Indigenous understandings into account, as well as a distrust on the part of scholars of the limited and contingent notion of “rights.” While Indigenous rights, inherently tied in Canada to recognition by the settler-colonial state, have limited application in achieving social justice or decolonization for Indigenous peoples, we argue that Indigenous rights can be used as a complementary discourse to Indigenous resurgence, within broader discourses of Indigenous justice, to lend legal and political weight to arguments for cultural safety and human rights in health care. We draw on a study conducted with 50 Indigenous community members and 15 health services professionals in the northern city of Prince George, Canada, to elucidate how Indigenous peoples’ experiences in health care settings may be improved by giving attention to rights discourse and removing the geographic and identity-based limitations of Indigenous rights to health care in Canada.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Elsevier in Political Geography on November 21, 2020, available online: