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Healing Trauma through a First Nation Lens

There is emerging evidence that traumatic experiences are often linked to mental health and addictions issues, and that trauma-informed approaches can assist those who are impacted. Trauma-informed approaches allow service providers to realize the impacts of trauma, recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma, and respond by integrating knowledge about trauma into their practices. First Nation people have a higher likelihood of experiencing trauma than the general population, and oftentimes, the trauma can be more complex than that experienced by non-First Nation people.

The Kenora-Rainy River Youth Justice Collaborative (KRRYJC) is one of 18 service collaboratives set up by the provincial government in regions across Ontario to reduce the burden of mental illness and addictions by ensuring all Ontarians have timely access to an integrated system of coordinated care.

The collaborative connects justice-involved youth up to the age of 17 with appropriate mental health and addiction services through coordinated efforts by agencies in the region, to give youth and their caregivers access to services and options that limit escalation in the justice system.
The collaborative recognized the need for service providers, especially those who work with justice-
involved youth, to better understand trauma and healing from an Indigenous perspective. Their solution was to offer a trauma workshop that incorporates the views and teachings of First Nation people.

Although the workshops in Kenora-Rainy River did not originally begin with the intention to host a First Nation-specific event, the lack of knowledge of the unique trauma that many in First Nation communities have experienced, combined with the over-representation of First Nation youth in the justice system, demonstrated the need to explore Traditional trauma healing approaches while incorporating Traditional practices.

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