Intergenerational trauma (IGT) explains why populations subjected to long-term, mass trauma show a higher prevalence of disease even several generations after the original events. Residential schools and other legacies of colonization continue to impact Aboriginal populations, who have higher rates of mental health concerns. Poor maternal mental health during pregnancy can have serious health consequences for the mother, the baby, and the whole family; these include impacting the cognitive, emotional and behavioural development of children and youth. This paper has the following objectives: 1) To define intergenerational trauma and contextualize it in understanding the mental health of pregnant and parenting Aboriginal women; 2) To summarize individual-level and population-level approaches to promoting mental health, and examine their congruence with the needs of Aboriginal populations; 3) To discuss the importance of targeting IGT in both individual-level and population-level interventions for pregnant Aboriginal women. Various scholars have suggested that healing from IGT is best achieved through a combination of mainstream psychotherapies and culturally-entrenched healing practices, conducted in culturally safe settings. Pregnancy has been argued to be a particularly meaningful intervention point to break the cycle of IGT transmission. Given the importance of pregnant women’s mental health to both maternal and child health outcomes, including mental health trajectories for children and youth, it is clear that interventions, programs and services for pregnant Aboriginal women need to be designed to explicitly facilitate healing from IGT. In this regard, further empirical research on IGT and on healing are warranted, to permit an evidence-based approach.
Pain is a universal experience all humans share but can be unique in how it is expressed. The pain experience is influenced by several dynamic factors, including family, community and culture. When it comes to pain expression children are among the most vulnerable often due to difficulty conveying their discomfort. Childhood pain can have significant physical and developmental effects that can last into adulthood. These negative health outcomes may be more pronounced in Aboriginal children given (a) the high prevalence of painful conditions, (b) potential cultural differences in pain expression, (c) the lack of culturally relevant reliable pain assessment approaches; (d) the subsequent shortcomings in pain care resulting in persistent pain (e) impact on wellbeing and untreated childhood pain. Standardized pain scales are based on Western ways of interpreting pain and may not capture the complexities of this experience through Indigenous understandings. Integration of both Western and Indigenous knowledge is accomplished when employing a Two-Eyed Seeing approach which utilizes the best of both Indigenous and Western knowledge. We want to establish reliable means for Aboriginal children to convey pain and hurt from a holistic perspective. By using a Two-Eyed Seeing lens to examine these issues, we hope to learn how to improve health care encounters, reduce hurt and enrich the wellbeing of Aboriginal children.
This study describes the self-reported bullying experiences and behaviours of Aboriginal students within two schools in a northwestern Ontario community. Different types of bullying and victimization experiences include, but are not limited to: physical, verbal, social, and electronic bullying. These bullying and victimization experiences were assessed among grades 4 through 8 students using the Safe School Survey. The results of the study showed that relative to the entire sample, Aboriginal students reported comparable levels of both victimization and bullying behaviour at school. All students reported verbal bullying behaviours and victimization experiences as the most frequent form of bullying. The results reflected no significant difference between Aboriginal male and female rates of reported bullying and victimization.
The Nitsiyihkâson project was conceived in order to develop a resource to promote attachment and development in a manner culturally appropriate to the Indigenous (specifically Cree) people of Alberta. Promoting secure attachment between a child and his/her caregivers is crucial to ensuring positive mental health, and improving family well-being. Working collaboratively with the community of Saddle Lake, the process began by launching the project in traditional ceremony. Following this, a talking circle was held with Saddle Lake Elders to share their memories and understanding of child-rearing practices that promote attachment. Using their guidance, we produced the document “awina kiyanaw”, which focuses on Cree stories and teachings, for parents to share with their young children. This document will be shared within the community, and agencies interested in promoting a culturally-appropriate approach to parenting. We then examined the cross-cultural applicability of these practices and produced a Resource Manual for service providers, comparing traditional ways-of-knowing with current neurobiological and epigenetic scientific understanding. We believe this helps those working with Indigenous families better understand their culture, and appreciate the wisdom in its teachings. In this paper, we present those findings and their ramifications.
There is a dearth of literature available on traditional Aboriginal child rearing. This review paper explores Aboriginal child rearing to determine if traditional practices are still in use, how these may differ from mainstream child rearing and may have been modified by mainstream influences and colonialism. Traditional Aboriginal parenting is discussed in the context of colonialism and historic trauma, with a focus on child autonomy, extended family, fatherhood, attachment, developmental milestones, discipline, language, and ceremony and spirituality. This review was completed using the ancestral method i.e. using the reference list of articles to find other relevant articles and more structured literature searches. In light of the high number of Aboriginal children in foster care, this research may serve to highlight the role that historical issues and misinterpretation of traditional child rearing practices play in the apprehension of Aboriginal children. It may also assist non-Aboriginal professionals when working with Aboriginal children and their families.