Indigenous/First Nations People and the Effects of Historical Trauma Contributing to Complex Grief
The discovery of over 1,300 unmarked graves of Indigenous First Nation children at former residential school sites across the country has shocked Canadians. National outrage has triggered calls for a reckoning over Canada's residential school legacy.
For Indigenous First Nations people, the findings of these graves have exposed old wounds and refreshed the sense of loss so many families experienced as their children were forcibly taken away to residential schools.
The grief and trauma from these experiences have had a profound effect on First Nations people, igniting a variety of mental health symptoms and, for many, creating a sense of disconnection from themselves and their relationship with others.
Understanding how these institutions have affected whole communities and families is key to helping Indigenous First Nations clients heal from the grief and begin to decolonize.
Shelley Spear Chief, a Clinical Social Worker and a leading First Nation Presenter on issues of historical trauma to present a Two-Day workshop entitled Working with Complex Traumatic Grief Within Indigenous First Nation Peoples: the shock of the unmarked graves and how to support clients from a cultural lens.
Her presentation is designed to give mental health therapists, front line support workers, an increased understanding of the historical effects of grief and how it is now identified as complex complicated grief.
In this workshop, Shelley will explain how the finding of unmarked graves has exacerbated the symptoms of complex grief. She will identify obstacles in healing due to the enormous effects of suicide, opioid crisis, and the COVID pandemic. Participants will also learn how to detect the different types of grief experienced by Indigenous First Nation Peoples. Gain an awareness of the importance of a trauma informed decolonial practice for the future generations.
“The most important thing you have to have with our people is a relationship,” says Spear Chief. Even if it’s online, when you invite your client in, invite them to have a coffee or a tea so that they feel they are having a visit. They have to feel safe, that they can trust you.”