Discourses of Stress, Social Inequities, and the Everyday Worlds of First Nations Women in a Remote Northern Canadian Community



Allan Young's classic thesis on stress discourse underscores the way in which the biomedical discourse of “stress” reflects and legitimizes existing social inequities even as it removes the language of stress to the decontextualized domain of the clinic. In this article, I address the way in which the “stress discourse” of a group of young adult Cree women who live in a remote northern Canadian village reflects and reinscribes the social, cultural, and historical conditions of inequity as part and parcel of community life. This study, as a reflection on Young's thesis, reveals that sometimes one is bound to replicate inequities because it is necessary to do so. The women with whom I spoke are entangled in an historical and social reality that they are wholly aware of such that the paths of inequity that are expressed in a rationale of “stress” cannot readily be challenged or changed. [stress discourse, women, First Nations, Canada, social inequity]