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“Survival kicks in…and that’s that”: Exploring the Pathways of Aboriginal Women Into, Through and Out of the Gang Lifestyle Open Access


Other title
Aboriginal women
gang exit
pathways to the gang
gang programming
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Brazil, Jasmine R
Supervisor and department
Grekul, Jana (Sociology)
Examining committee member and department
Andersen, Chris (Native Studies)
Bucerius, Sandra (Sociology)
Department of Sociology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
This research project sought to explore the answer to the following research questions: 1) Which experiences do Aboriginal female gang associates identify as reasons for gang membership? 2) Which experiences do Aboriginal female gang associates identify as reasons for gang-exit? and 3) Were there community supports that could have provided prevention or intervention support for female gang membership? The goal of this study was to hear about the experiences of Aboriginal women with gangs from their perspective, providing a picture of what gang life is really like for a woman. Often the experiences of women are speculated on and generalized based on research conducted with male gang members. In-depth interviews were conducted with seven women and their experiences depict that they take a unique pathway to gangs, often with abuse at the center of their journey. In all of the cases, the key ages for gang entry were between 12-15 years old indicating that identifying risk factors when they were young was imperative in setting the life course of these Aboriginal women. The pathway to the gang and the gang lifestyle has different challenges for the women and as a result provided them with a unique experience when trying to leave the gang. The distinctive path that women in gangs experience needs to be addressed by both prevention and intervention programming to focus on the more gender-specific issues that we can only learn from listening to the stories of the women who lived it. This research provides insight into the involvement of females in the gang lifestyle and generates discussion on how research focused on women should be utilized as we move forward in developing and implementing gang intervention and prevention strategies. This research should begin conversations on the role of women in this lifestyle and how it impacts their decisions and abilities to leave and the programs and supports available to them when they make this often difficult decision.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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