Picking up our medicine bundles in a modern-day context : community mobilization and sustainable mental health self determination using Indigenous theory and methodology
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Over the past fifteen years the Indigenous rural communities in northern Saskatchewan have experienced suicide at overwhelming epidemic rates. There seems to be a clear connection between these high suicide rates and the historical trauma experienced by Indigenous peoples. This loss is compounded by the unresolved grief and inter-generational trauma associated with the legacy of residential schools. Mental health service delivery for Indigenous youth in rural and remote communities is based on a medical model and needs to change. This research examines Indigenous methods of healing as a way toward a sustainable holistic healing program. It builds on the strengths of the Indigenous cultures of these communities and data were gathered through a community based participatory action research collaboration. The planning, implementation and assessment of this research engaged direct participants in a collaborative analysis process. In a span of one year, seventeen youth and elders from rural northern Saskatchewan participated in two pilot retreats. Mixed research methods provided pragmatic pathways towards understanding common themes of wellness. The research will be mobilized to support the development of a practical guide which demonstrate the Indigenous Natural Law teachings as being on par with western science mental health approaches and interventions. This guide will provide recommendations for influencing federal and provincial mental health policies that guarantee long-term impact in our rural and remote communities. These Indigenous community processes will be mobilized from the inside out, empowering Indigenous youth and families to support them in picking up their knowledge bundles in today’s world.
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