Sadly, however, this knowledge is neither disseminated well, nor implemented enough by government and health care, social welfare and criminal justice systems. As a result, society is not helping Indigenous people improve their health and wellbeing to the level it should.
In this and forthcoming blogs, I shall briefly describe ways to facilitate Indigenous healing. Here are the first three.
1. Self-determination is the Foundation of Healing
Despite the fact that self-determination and self-direction are the foundation of healing and recovery, governments and systems of care still predominantly take power and control. This paternalistic approach fails. Solutions to Indigenous problems must come from within Indigenous communities - they must own and control the healing process. Healing programs must reflect specific needs and goals of the community and the individual.
2. The Importance of Empowerment
Empowerment is key because healing is something that comes from the person, not from a practitioner or treatment. People are empowered when they gain hope, understanding and a sense of belonging. They need the opportunity to make their own choices. They may need encouragement to start focusing on their strengths instead of their losses. Sometimes, they need another person to believe in them before they’re confident enough to believe in themselves.
3. The Importance of Connections
Healing is rarely achieved alone; it takes place in the context of relationships (or community). Indigenous people need to be connected to their land, culture, spirituality, family, community and history to facilitate healing. Culture and land provide meaning and purpose to life, a sense of wellbeing, and a strong positive identity. Healing is about the reparation of social relationships that have often been damaged by a person’s self-destructive behaviours.
Here are links to two articles you might find of interest in relation to the principles described above, although they focus on recovery from mental health problems.
>> Self-Determination in Mental Health Recovery: Taking Back Our Lives by Mary Ellen Copeland
>> A Journey Toward Recovery: From the Inside Out by Dale Walsh