UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Daughters of Indian residential school survivors Meseyton, Heidi Rae


The effects of Indian Residential Schools have been extremely detrimental to Indigenous communities, families and culture. There is a movement to document the stories of survivors of Residential Schools, recording their healing from the devastating effects. The intergenerational effects of the Schools have been documented to a lesser extent, and to an even lesser degree, the healing stories of children of survivors. A goal of this research is to build upon the existing literature relating to Indigenous healing from the effects of Residential Schools, documenting intergenerational survival and healing. Furthermore, the intention is to explore Indigenous women's experiences and gain a greater understanding of their healing and wellness. This research is a qualitative study of six Indigenous women who are daughters of Residential School survivors that identify as being engaged in a healing journey from the effects of the Schools. The women's healing stories were documented using Indigenous and Qualitative Description approaches that draw on the Oral History methodology. The implications of this research include additions to the existing literature relating to Indigenous healing and the potential for enhancement of current and developing healing programs, services and policy for Indigenous people. Furthermore, the implications for social work education include the importance for curriculum to include an Indigenous perspective and content that provides social workers with the tools necessary to work with First Nations people in a meaningful way. The results of this study indicate that the six women were significantly impacted by Residential Schools. They are all working toward personal change and growth to alter some of the harmful intergenerational patterns in their families and communities. The five main effects from the Schools that were identified as being transmitted to the women are disconnection from Indigenous identity and heritage, parenting difficulties, living in silence, experiences of racism, and compromised mental wellness. The main themes that emerged in relation to healing from these effects include gaining post-secondary education, learning about and connecting with Indigenous identity, attending therapy and healing programs, working towards forgiveness and understanding their parents' experience in Residential School, changing family patterns, and being helpers in the community.

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