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.

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.