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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Indian residential school experience : B.C. first nations share critical incidents along their personal healing journeys Palma, A. Harriet


This qualitative study used the enhanced critical incident technique to explore what helped and what hindered the personal healing journey of six former students of the Indian Residential School (IRS) system in Canada. In-depth interviews were conducted with three women and three men who attended an Indian Residential School in B.C. and perceive themselves to be on a healing journey from their experience. The interviews produced 307 incidents. There were 196 helping, 64 hindering and 47 wisdom provided incidents. The incidents were placed into 11 helping, 6 hindering and 10 wisdom categories. The following helping categories emerged with the highest participation rate: 1) Sharing about the Indian Residential School Experience, 2) Community, 3) Cultural Healing, 4) Personal Strengths and 5) Reconnection to Family and Traditional Parenting. The hindering categories with the highest participation rates were: 1) Internalized Shame from the Indian Residential School Experience, 2) Coping Behaviors and Readiness to Heal, 3) Intergenerational Trauma and 4) Religious Indoctrination. The wisdom categories with the highest participation rates were: 1) Be Honest with Yourself, 2) Have Strength and 3) Think Positively. Eight validity checks were completed and validated. The study results contribute to current literature on the Indian Residential School Experience by describing what helped and what hindered the healing journey for these former students. The objective of the study was to create a better understanding of the healing journey from the perspective of former Indian Residential School students who are now survivors of their experiences. It is hoped that the information shared by participants will help additional Indian Residential School Survivors, including those inter-generationally impacted, move forward along their healing journey. Implications for counselling education and practice are discussed.

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