Historicizing Health Inequities: Healing the vestiges of residential schooling


  • Sara Mohammed


Taking a social determinants of health approach to understanding the health issues of survivors of residential schooling and using a historical perspective as the lens through which to make sense of effective and ineffective healing mechanisms, I will highlight various interventions being undertaken with First Nations communities in Canada in response to historic trauma. This approach I will call historicizing health inequities, a way in which I have made sense of prevalent trends in public health and social inequity issues. To clarify, the approach to understanding health disparities called the ‘social determinants of health’ grew out of a recognition that health disparities are intimately related to, and caused by social inequities-- like poverty, racism, access to health care, education, housing, and so on and so forth. The social determinants of health are an effective mechanism to gain insight into the degree to which health disparities are determined by the experience of social inequities by various communities and within multiple contexts. My approach to understanding health issues also involves an additional element of looking at history to link the vestiges of historical inequities to current health disparities. This article will take a critical look at two different approaches to healing interventions carried out with First Nations people in response to historic trauma, a legacy of residential schooling. Through many case studies this essay will juxtapose both mainstream Western Psychology as well as healing interventions carried out by the Canadian Aboriginal community that employ community driven healing mechanisms.

Author Biography

Sara Mohammed


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