Heal Me Hear: First Nations Women, Drug Abuse and the Healing Journey

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1 Heal Me Hear: First Nations Women, Drug Abuse and the Healing Journey Canadian Institutes of Health Research Project (#74289) National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse University of Saskatchewan Our People, Our Health 2009

2 Project Background Research partnership began in 2005: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) Carleton University & University of Saskatchewan National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation (NNAPF) Applied Aboriginal methodology and a communitybased participatory approach to research Mainly First Nations as well as some Métis and Inuit women shared their stories

3 What the Literature Tells Us: A Serious Health Issue The relationship between the historical control and oppression of Aboriginal peoples in Canada and their current disadvantaged position is well documented (Monture-Angus 2000; Dua 1999; Fleras and Elliott 1996; LaPrairie 1995; Reasons and Pavlich 1995; York 1992). The mortality rate due to violence for Aboriginal women is three times that of non-aboriginal women in Canada (Health Canada 1999). Not as well established are explanations of the impact of historical oppression as it relates to Aboriginal women and their coming into conflict with the law (Canadian Human Rights Commission 2003; Dell 2001; Dion-Stout, Kipling, Stout 2001).

4 The situation is similar for Aboriginal women and illicit drug use. Though we do know such facts as Aboriginal women are over-represented in the IDU population in Canada (Craib et al. 2003; Barlow 2003; Spittal et al. 2002). The substance use literature documents stigma and resulting guilt and shame as barriers for women, in particular mothers, to accessing treatment (Currie 2001; Poole and Issac 2001; Padayachee 1998; Copeland 1997; Grella 1997). In a review of the literature conducted for a 2002 forum on Aboriginal women s health and addictions services in Canada, it was concluded that little focused attention has been paid to the issue of providing gender-specific support to Aboriginal women with substance use problems (Poole and Trainor 2000:2). This was reaffirmed in a 2009 meeting (Public Health Agency of Canada 2009).

5 Aboriginal Women Drug Users in Conflict with the Law: A Study of the Role of Self-Identity in the Healing Journey What are the experiential paths of Aboriginal women in conflict with the law in the creation and recreation of their self-identity, accounting for associated role expectations and stigma, while in treatment for illicit drug use (defined as the healing journey)? And how do treatment program workers influence women s constitution and reconstitution of their selfidentity and what is the relation to their healing?

6 Doing Research by, for and in balance with

7 IDENTITY, STIGMA & HEALING

8 FROM STILETTOS TO MOCCASINS I survived through the pain Many emotions like waves Laughing and crying again and again Honesty, strength, friends and devotion Showering gifts of hope to reclaim Walking the streets dragging my heart Wandering with my head held down in shame When and how did my family fall apart Who am I, what is my name? BRIDGE: Surviving the street lost and alone I started a journey to find my way home CHORUS: From stilettos to moccasins Our spirit dances within On our way to resolution We find our peace And this is who I am Broken barriers and new discoveries My spirit I now reclaim Coming home to who I am Taking honour in my name No longer a prisoner lost in this world Look within my shell To find that pearl CHORUS: From stilettos to moccasins Our spirit dances within On our way to resolution We find our peace And this is who I am

9 IDENTITY Identity is commonly defined as The distinguishing character or personality of an individual. (Merriam Webster online: An Aboriginal worldview of identity is about understanding who you really are your reason for being your selfidentity. Physical Emotional Mental Spiritual

10 STIGMA Definition: Negative attitudes (prejudice) and negative behaviours (discrimination) against specific individuals or groups of individuals.

11 THE HEALING JOURNEY Identity Transformation + Cultural Understanding = The Healing Journey

12

13 Cedar Lodge February, 2009

14 A video of the healing journey

15 Colleen Anne Dell, PhD Department of Sociology & School of Public Health 1015 Arts Building, 9 Campus Drive Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A5 Canada Tel: or Website: Click on creating knowledge and then national

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