March 31, 2018 1:35 pm
Updated: March 31, 2018 1:45 pm

‘Sandwich Generation’ and Indigenous families facing unique challenges: study

A study on modern Canadian families has identified two groups that have a few challenges.


A study on the modern Canadian family has found a few unique challenges face two specific groups – those caring for both children and parents, and Indigenous families.

The group who cares for both children and older parents is known as the “Sandwich Generation” — and it is only getting larger.

“[That group faces stress like] precarious work, two parents working, the responsibilities of caring for sick relatives or the challenges of caring for older relatives who need to make transitions to smaller homes or assisted living,” said University of Lethbridge sociology professor Dr. Susan McDaniel, one of the authors of the study, on the Alberta Morning News.

She says families often find it difficult to locate support. The notion of coordinating everything that makes up family life while working full time is not necessarily straightforward.

WATCH: The ‘Sandwich Generation’ feels the squeeze

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Indigenous families were another major focus of the study.

“Indigenous families are much younger. They have more children and have them earlier,” said McDaniel. “The opportunites [for those families] is quite splendid. As people age into retirement, there’s a need for those younger workers.”

These young Indigenous families mean there’s a pool of people who are ready — and eager — to work.

“But there are problems that come with that,” said McDaniel. “For example, if Indigenous students want to come into post-secondary education, they often come with children already.”

That adds stress to students who need to care for a child.

“All of that [equals] a very different demand on Indigenous students compared to your typical 18-year-old who has none of those family responsibilities.”

READ MORE: Budget 2018: $4.7 billion over 5 years set aside to support Indigenous children and families

Another factor working against Indigenous people is the large number living below the low-income cut-off.

“That’s a huge impediment of using this pool of very eager young people in the future workforce, because if you’re poor you don’t have adequate nutrition, adequate clean water supply, all kinds of things could happen,” said McDaniel.

For Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike, low-income means they aren’t as likely to seize on educational opportunities compared to those with a higher income.

“The problem of poverty on and off reserves for Indigenous people is an impediment for [those] who could contribute to the workforce at a very high level.”

With the right support, however, there’s an opportunity to bring more Indigenous people into post-secondary education.

“I’ve seen more and more Indigenous people coming into my classes who are extremely bright and extremely eager to contribute,” said McDaniel.

“At the same time, I think there are even more who should be in higher education but can’t be because of financial issues or being dragged down by poverty later in life.”

LISTEN: University of Lethbridge sociology professor Dr. Susan McDaniel on the Alberta Morning News

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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