According to the Canadian Institute of Health Aboriginal Youth are five to six times more likely to commit suicide then non-aboriginal peers. So the Maclean’s article on Bella Bella titled, “The Town that Solved Suicide” is attention getting. Bella Bella was able to give everyone, including the youth of the community, hope. Hope that the future would be brighter and there would be ways individuals could contribute to the community and economically to their families. Lot’s of research has been done on suicide rates in Indigenous Communities, is there research on what communities can do to stop this? Are stories of these successful communities shared online with other communities?
Having completed my B Ed at the University of Alberta, I was quite aware that the Edmonton Pubic School Board (EPSB) had a large program in place to reach the Aboriginal student, family and community as well as the educators of Aboriginal students. The resources within this website are plentiful. Documents for First Nations, Metis and Inuit families to maneuver the educational system, documents to guide young adults in future career pathways, Cree language resources (as many schools K-12 provide Cree as an option for students), family resources for health and well-being. This all-encompassing website replicates the values of the First Nations people as it does not solely deal with education, rather the development of the whole person (and those who support the student). This website is not only useful for those teachers who have First Nations, Metis or Inuit students but it provides an example of how educational boards are reaching out to meet the needs of all learners. From an Aboriginal perspective, I feel this could be seen as a form of media outreach to showcase the efforts of the school board to connect with the Indigenous communities.
To access this website, go to: https://sites.google.com/a/epsb.ca/fnmi-education/home
Ronaye Kooperberg (Module 3 – Post 4)
This link leads to a collection of publications put online by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation as part of their Research Series.
I found this a useful place to start as I was interested in inter-generational healing and community. There were some very interesting articles on here. One document in particular was very useful for me and that was, “Reclaiming Connections: Understanding Residential School Trauma Among Aboriginal People.” This document chronicles the Aboriginal experience in Canada from pre- and post-contact history and the residential school experiences of Inuit, Métis, and First Nations. Then it discusses the trauma that individuals and communities are coping with. A really wonderful part of this document are the suggestions for healing, including Aboriginal Healing Models and culture-specific healing strategies such as “being out on the land” for Inuit or gathering medicines like sweet-grass for Métis (p.75).
Other interesting research and information on healing can be found here:
This website offers Cancer patients information on traditional First Nation’s healing, including topics like the ceremonial use of tobacco and smudging. I found it particularly useful because the website goes to great paints to speak respectfully whilst still indicating that the use of traditional healing has not been scientifically studied.
I see this as an opportunity for researchers to examine the use of traditional healing methods that look at the whole human (medicine wheel) for treatment, instead of simply treating the body (chemo), and to examine biomarkers of disease or whole health outcomes (e.g. death rates) for those treated using traditional methods plus evidence-based western medicine. Many traditional healing methods have recently shown themselves successful in clinical trials (e.g. massage therapy & acupuncture), and I suspect that there are likely elements of traditional healing that will hold up to scientific rigor and help to support their use in broader populations.
Creating Emotional Health and Wellbeing
This .pdf is a slideshow for a talk Brown gave in 2013. I have been looking unsuccessfully for more work by Brown and this, at least, outlines the thoughts he dicusses at https://connect.ubc.ca/webapps/blackboard/execute/displayLearningUnit?course_id=_61105_1&content_id=_2725247_1&framesetWrapped=true a little more visually. Lee Brown’s explanation of how emotional well being ties into cultural awareness is an important point in my paper for the final assignment, so the more I can find, the better.
Post by Trevor Price
July 4, 2015
In the article “Canadian medical schools struggle to recruit Aboriginal students” some Aboriginal doctors describe the cultural difference between being a student in an Aboriginal community and being a student in a major Canadian medical school as being a major hurdle.
Coming from an Aboriginal nursing background, I was used to an environment that was very nurturing, very non-judgmental, very non-competitive,” she says. “You learn to be very comfortable talking about your struggles, what you need to work on to become a stronger person or a better caregiver. Medical school was very different. It was a very competitive environment… people keep their cards close to their chest… they don’t want to reveal themselves; what they see as weaknesses. I found this very difficult. My colleagues didn’t understand. When asked to self-evaluate, my colleagues thought I was putting myself down. I think my ability to talk about myself is a huge strength, it lets me improve as a doctor and as a person, but my colleagues didn’t see it that way. I found this very difficult.
There are several reasons for this cultural difference posited in the blog post, including the poorer quality of education students can receive on reserve, lack of modelling in their own communities, and also lack of respect for or integration of traditional knowledge in many undergraduate medical programs. The article indicates that more needs to be done than simply recruiting indigenous students, but rather that the programs need to change to better suit/fit with the ways indigenous students already live.
University College of the North had developed a Manitoba midwifery program with a core aboriginal focus in 2006. This program, designed to help provide birth support to mothers in communities lacking complete medical facilities, or to assist women wanting a more traditional birth experience, was nationally unique, in that they were located far from an urban centre, and focused on admitting only indigenous students.
I have been interested in this program for many years, first as a student who desperately wanted to enter midwifery in a time before midwifery was a viable university program (UBC, McMaster & Ryerson Universities all now have well developed 4-year programs). This program was plagued with issues, including having problems recruiting and retaining students, and difficulties having students deliver enough babies for graduation (there is a mandatory minimum birth attendance required). Ultimately only 8 students graduated from this program, with the majority of them being non-aboriginal. Instead of meaningful examination of why or how indigenous students were not attracted to or able to stay in the program, the province determined that it was best to overhaul the program and move it under the umbrella of the University of Manitoba’s broader medical program.
Based on the information released, it does not seem that this program was given evaluation to allow it to succeed.
This article available for free via the International Indigenous Policy Journal is a strong resource for gaining an understanding of how best to support the social/emotional of Aboriginal children. This article identifies five themes in supporting emotional development in Aboriginal Canadians: cultural wellness, emotional wellness, mental wellness, social wellness and identity. This study strengthens the assertion that Aboriginal children require an additional set of social-emotional skills to successfully navigate different cultural contexts during development.
Dr. Brown’s emphasis on emotional health, particularly identifying our emotional states, and developing proper emotional reactions spurred me to investigate skills on developing emotional intelligence. Help Guide is an excellent resource for teachers and students looking to develop emotional intelligence. The four key attributes to developing emotional health are strikingly similar to 6 principles outlined by Dr. Brown.
As pointed out in the experiences illustrated by Hare (2011), the Emotional Health of the Indigenous students in India also suffers considerably in the mainstream educational system.