Being born Aboriginal in Quebec: when the future depends on the past

Country/area: Canada

Organisation: Le Devoir

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 13 Jul 2020


Project description:

An Aboriginal person in Quebec will suffer the consequences of a failing system throughout his or her life. Quebec counts 11 Aboriginal nations, including First Nations, Inuits and Metis, mainly in 55 communities. Although each has its own particularities, they are all subject to multiple prejudices from childhood to adulthood: education, income and employment, housing, relations with the police and health.

Impact reached:

The first impact of this project has been to to go beyond prejudices by highlighting facts, figures and points of view that are largely overlooked or biased by the media. The second impact was to show positive actions that are being undertaken in favor of indigenous people (see Project link 2).

Techniques/technologies used:

The main tools used were the different libraries associated with Python and JavaScript programming languages. Several studies carried out on Aboriginals in Quebec recently have given us access to a large amount of data about the subject. By using Python libraries for data science (Numpy, Pandas, etc.), we were able to extract relevant data and analyze them to compare the living conditions of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Quebec. We were thus able to observe the disparities at several levels: graduation, income, housing, health, etc. For data visualizations, we mainly used JavaScript’s D3.js library. The Adobe Creative Suite was also used for visualisations involving one specific number to highlight. 

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part of the project was making sure we gave an accurate and complete picture of the situation. The portrait of Indigenous people in Quebec in the media is indeed often superficial or wrong and not representative of their reality. This contributes to perpetuating stereotypes towards these communities. We therefore wanted to do a rigorous work and collect as much information as possible on that subject. We had to read an immense quantity of academic literature, reports and articles in order to understand the historical and current situation. We conducted several interviews in order to be sure that Native people’s points of view were well represented. We also had to do a thorough data analysis in order to find statistics that were meaningful and representative of inequalities for each stage of life.

What can others learn from this project?

The article presents a way of interweaving data, images, testimonials and text in a fluid and impactful way. The half-text, half-visualization slider format enables to simultaneously discover the data and all the explanations behind it. Readers can thus, beyond the numbers, completely put themselves in the place of an Aboriginal person in Quebec: they successively go through the different stages of their life and gradually discover all the accumulated obstacles. The images and testimonials through the article help to set a pace and associate these data and informations with real people and concrete traumatic experiences. Data come to life!

Project links: