UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How do Yukon Indigenous people define healing from the residential school experience? Smith, Maisie


This study used a storytelling method within the paradigm of an Indigenous methodology. In Canada, qualitative evidence has revealed that the Indigenous people have been affected by colonization and the residential school experience. These effects include but are not limited to trauma, intergenerational trauma, cultural interruption, genocide, segregation, racism, prejudices, and forced assimilation. For Yukon Indigenous people, first-generation survivors were directly impacted, and the next three generations are also indirectly. Efforts by Western counselling methods to support Indigenous people in Canada including those in Yukon with whom the researcher is closely associated have not been successful. This study investigated what method(s) might work to better support and sustain Indigenous people who attended Yukon residential schools. This study is the first academic investigation in the Yukon to look at first-generation survivors and record their stories about their healing journey. Nine Yukon Indigenous residential school survivors (5 females, 4 males) between the ages of 62 to 77, who had been on their healing path for a minimum of two years, shared their stories. This investigation revealed that traditional healing practices were useful for these residential school survivors in starting and sustaining their healing journey. One of the implications of the results of this study is that Western counselling methods must acknowledge, include, and work with our people in a culturally safe and competent manner. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action stipulates that Canada’s health care system must include Indigenous peoples’ right to proper health care. Clinical, practical, social, and methodological implications are discussed, and recommendations for future research as well as practical interventions are suggested.

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