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Topic 2 – Indigenous Communities and Problematic Substance Use

Topic Progress:

While Indigenous communities and individuals have been disproportionately affected by the policies of Colonialism and systemic racism, it is important to note that despite these factors, as Renee Linklater points out in Decolonizing Trauma Work, the majority of Indigenous people are not in jail, are not using substances problematically and are not living with violence.

As Linklater observes,'[t]he majority of indigenous peoples have a high degree of resiliency despite their historical circumstances. It is this resiliency that enables indigenous peoples to persevere and continue in the journey forward, despite the often exhausting conditions and collective challenges they face.”

(Source: Decolonizing Trauma Work, Renee Linklater, pg 26).

Systemic racism towards Indigenous people means that, as with any group experiencing intergenerational trauma, this community is at higher risk for developing problematic substance use.

It is important to consider cultural sensitivity and humility when working with Indigenous communities and individuals. This may include, but must not insist on, culturally-specific care, i.e. not insisting that someone who identifies as Indigenous attend a First Nations oriented treatment program.

Overview of a study that investigated barriers faced by Indigenous individuals and communities in relation to accessing mental health and substance use support:

Research Summary: Aboriginal Peoples’ Experiences of Mental Health and Addictions Care

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