Organizational Influence on Individual Perceptions: The social representations of the Aboriginal military in the Canadian Armed Forces

Sébastien Girard Lindsay, Jean-François Savard


In the context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report, the Canadian state is in the process of reaching out to Aboriginal communities. Public organizations must therefore be actively involved in integrating Aboriginal people into their communities so that they are representative of Canadian society as a whole. The question of the perceptions of Aboriginal employees becomes crucial because it may be a factor that facilitates or restricts the access of these people to public organizations. As such, Aboriginal people have a special, complex and rich relationship with the military. It seemed relevant for us to study the perception of the Canadian military with Aboriginal people. Using the theory of social representations, this research exposes the structure of these perceptions. We have discovered that the military perceives the army through the prism of excellence and legal authority. Thus, the perception scheme is not a priori an obstacle to the integration of Aboriginal people, but there are indeed prejudices and stereotypes on the periphery of the representational structure. These prejudices and stereotypes could constitute an obstacle to the effective integration of this population.

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JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.