Dealing with Healing Part 2
A defect with the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRRSA) was the colonial system that perpetrated the ill treatment at IRS, was the same system that controlled the judicial process of the agreement. The service providers for applying for a settlement ultimately became the system for dealing with the healing. This makes for a difficult and awkward journey for acknowledging and moving past the pain and learning to live in a healthy way.
Colonial psychology must take into account that their origins are from western medicine and colonial rule in Canada, which imposed the dysfunctions in our communities. It would be difficult for a therapist to understand that the ill treatment committed in IRS was condoned and legislated by their leaders. Meaning the therapist has to acknowledge that their leaders committed these wrongs as representatives of Canadians. Essentially, the therapist is responsible by way of their government’s legislative responsibility.
They also must take into account the cultural differences that exist. For example, in traditional culture, medicine people had many gifts and one of them is the ability to communicate with the spirits. Essentially, hearing and seeing spirits that are not visible to everyone. In western medicinal circles hearing voices in your head is considered a psychotic disorder called schizophrenia. In saying this any human being that has the gifts to speak with spirits, see the future, is schizophrenic according to western medicine.
How do we reconcile these two belief systems? Understanding that western beliefs and knowledge is very young in consideration to First Peoples and all other Indigenous cultures around the world. Western beliefs, education, governance and sociology is only 2,000 years old. Western medicine itself is not much older at about 2,500 years old. There are accounts by historians that First Peoples culture can be dated anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 years old. So, essentially living within the western ways of thinking we have excluded at least 18,000 years of knowledge. Much of that knowledge was erased during the colonization of Canada, although, some elders today still carry some of the knowledge that allowed the people to live and survive in harmony with the earth for thousands of years.
As we can understand, the reconciliation of two cultures is somewhat difficult and messy. But in order for there to be true and genuine reconciliation our two cultures must acknowledge fully the history of IRS. The Canadian population within the next generations must understand the wrongs committed on First People also the racism and the associated issues that come with ignorance. The youth will be the leaders for both cultures with the proper education of IRS and the impairments they caused.
But, mainly dealing with healing is a personal journey.
So, we acknowledged the imposed dysfunction, where do we go from here? Taking the first step towards healing can take on many forms. There are many resources and organizations that can help. ConnexOntario have an assortment of treatment options for substance abuse for drug and alcohol addictions and mental health needs. Although, these are great programs they are colonial and do not fully take into account cultural differences.
The first step to dealing with healing is becoming aware and acknowledging that there is a problem with substance abuse. Then changing the awareness to action. The action is then implemented by exploring recovery. Once working toward healing it is simply being active in recovery and ensuring maintenance of healing. It takes bravery and courage to acknowledge our shortcomings and begin the journey toward healing what ails emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.