The Legacy Project: Resources and Information on Intergenerational Trauma and Trauma-Informed Practice

Canada and the United States are not very good at helping people heal from traumatic experiences. Like all colonial societies, they function on a “pull up your bootstraps” mentality that emphasizes individual responsibility and achievement. In this model, people succeed only through their own efforts or abilities, and individuals are expected to recover from traumatic experiences without any outside help. In reality, recovering from trauma requires a survivor to build relationships, cultivate safety, undergo a process of remembrance and mourning, reconnect with other people and with the natural world, and overcome their feelings of isolation by discovering commonality with others. This process is relational — and it requires a collective undertaking among people and within systems.

This website contains information that explains how historic experiences of colonization and the continued attitudes and practices of colonialism are tied to intergenerational trauma in Indigenous peoples and communities. If you are a survivor, this site will help you develop self-awareness around what you are thinking and feeling. If you work with people, it will help you build a trauma-informed practice. If you work in an institution, this site will help you understand the need for systemic and institutional change.

What do you want your legacy to be?


Who is this website for?

Individuals, families, and communities
Partners of survivors

Anyone who works with the public

Practitioners and professionals
Other colonized peoples
Anyone interested in reconciliation

Effects of Colonization on Indigenous Communities

Together, we can build an inclusive and equitable society

Together, we can heal our nations

Grandmothers Guard Pemmican Berries by Leah Dorion
Grandmothers Guard Pemmican Berries, Leah Dorion, oil on canvas, 2017

Colonization and Intergenerational Trauma

“The government set out on a deliberate attempt to undermine the very existence of Indigenous communities and undermine the very nature of Indigenous families within society.” Senator Murray Sinclair

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Mikmaq Worldview, by Teresa Marshall
Mi’kmaq Worldview, Teresa Marshall, acrylic on canvas, 2005

Impacts

The unresolved terror, anger, grief, and loss created by colonization has had negative effects on Indigenous health and well-being.

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Jiimaan, by Janice Toulouse
Jiimaan, Janice Toulouse, pastel/acrylic on canvas, 2017

Systems Change

To create change, we must decolonize and Indigenize the systems and institutions of the dominant society so that they no longer act as instruments of colonial control.

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Welcoming New Life, by artist Leah Dorion
Welcoming New Life, Leah Dorion, oil on canvas, 2017

Narratives

Stories are spirals: they exist in time and space as they happen, then spiral off from a common root to become part of the lives of subsequent generations.

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Indigenous Healing Practices and Patient Care

There are significant barriers to access for Indigenous peoples in the health care system, including pervasive racism and a lack of cultural safety and trauma-informed care. Even the most enlightened bio-medical practitioners – those who understand the importance of looking at illness and disease through a bio-psycho-social lens – are unaware of how colonization and colonialism continues to affect Indigenous bodies, minds, and spirits. Most physicians and practitioners also know little about Indigenous concepts of health and wellness. As a result, medical care ends up being yet another form of violence perpetrated against Indigenous people by the colonial state. Watch the 2020 Dr. Marguerite (Peggy) Hill Memorial Lecture for more information about trauma-informed care and Indigenous approaches to health and wellness.

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