Trauma and suicide behaviour histories among a Canadian indigenous population: an empirical exploration of the potential role of Canada’s residential school system

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Trauma and suicide behaviour histories among a Canadian indigenous population: an empirical exploration of the potential role of Canada’s residential school system.

Most institutions operated with the vision of providing learners with social skills and vocational training to acquire employment and easily assimilate into the Canadian society after graduation. However, the goals were poorly actualized and inconsistent for that matter and most graduates were unable to secure employment due to the poor training received. When they returned home, the challenges were visible because the graduates were unfamiliar with their environment and culture coupled with the inability to communicate with family members and peers through their traditional language. Residential mortality were rampant and they were associated with poorly constructed and maintained facilities. However, the actual death numbers remain largely unknown because of inconsistent reporting by the institutions administration coupled with destruction of medical and administrative records in relation to retention and disposition policies for government records. According to statistics from the 1906 annual reports, it was revealed that the Indian population of Canada had a mortality rate exceeding fifty percent that of the population and even in certain provinces the figure could go to as high as 75 percent. Between 1894-1908 in certain residential institutions in Canada, the mortality rates over a five year period ranged 30-60 percent.

The intergenerational effects of Indian Residential Schools: Implications for the concept of historical trauma. Transcultural psychiatry, 51(3), 320-338.The study reviews intergenerational effects of Indian Residential School system in Canada whereby aboriginals kids were coerced prevalent with different forms of neglect and abuse. The residential system continues to undermine the well-being of today’s aboriginal population.

The paper suggests that familial Indian residential school system in Canada across different generations in Canadian society are linked with contemporary stressor experience and relatively higher effects of stressors on the society’s well-being. The article addresses different processes applicable through the experience of trauma in one generation and can influence subsequent generations, a perspective that appears to resonate with most literatures related to Aboriginal heals including the Aboriginal population living with historical, collective traumas experienced by their ancestors. Despite the fact that it is critical to identify individual reactions to specific historically traumatic events or periods, there has been less attention dedicated towards interrelated effects of trauma experiences on family dynamics and whole communities. Furthermore, and particularly germane to Aboriginal groups who had endured continuous assaults since the arrival of colonizing groups, research examining individual-level intergenerational effects typically has not considered the larger context in which these traumatic events rest.

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