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Drawing on traditions
Remembering the past to give hope for the future
by Arlene Laliberté (26/11/2013)
The equinox, for many First Nations people, represents change and transformation. Spring in particular is a time of awakening, renewal as well as rebirth. It is also time to journey towards the gathering place. This special place, where meetings, exchanges, celebrations and mourning take place, is full of meaning and memories because it remembers the past, bears witness to the present and offers hope for the future.
Pessamit, 1973. This story begins 40 years ago, after a routine medical exam given at the dispensary of an Innu community in the beautiful Côte-Nord region. The news was unexpected and devastating: like the weighted blade of a guillotine, falling at lightning speed between its wooden pillars, unimpeded by any obstacle in its path, not even my head. That's when the doctor told us, in a language I didn't understand, that I would soon have to leave my family, friends and community for a very long time. I felt the guillotine's effects once again, except that this time, it wasn't only my head that was severed from my body, it was my very soul that would be severed from the family unit. That seemed more horrible to me than losing my head.
Residential schools: Learning from our mistakes to build a healthier future together
by Arlene Laliberté (22/04/2013)
April 2013 marked the passage of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada in Montréal. Established in 2008 following the claims of former Residential School students, the Committee's purpose is to "turn the page" on past wrongs in order to "build a strong and healthy future". The fifth of eight national events, the Montréal event welcomed former Residential School students and their families to hear their testimonies in view of shedding light on their experiences and the repercussions on the victims' families.
Community-based participatory research: A tool to support empowerment of Aboriginal people
by Arlene Laliberté and Georgia Vrakas (24/01/2012)
Indigenous people of Canada and elsewhere experience severe and systematic disempowerment with devastating health and social impacts. These are reflected in the staggering number of Aboriginal people in long-term care, such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, mental health inpatient and forensic mental health units in the judiciary system.
Develop a mental health approach adapted to the Aboriginal population
by Arlene Laliberté (06/12/2010)
Mental health is the capacity of individuals and groups to interact with one another and the environment in ways that promote subjective well-being, optimal development and the use of cognitive, affective and relational abilities. This definition focuses on the fact that mental health is not limited to the absence of disease, but is a positive state.
Many Aboriginal peoples share this holistic and positive view of mental health. Moreover, the concept of wellness, disease and healing represent fundamental elements when discussing the identity of many Aboriginal groups, who place significant importance on family, group and community health.