Family violence, suicide, and substance use problems are common among Aboriginal peoples in Alberta. Many of the mental health issues facing Aboriginal peoples today are rooted in historical and socio-economic factors. Family violence, including physical and sexual abuse, is often the reason for referrals to mental health centres and hospitals. This can be directly related to the historical legacy of Aboriginal people, such as the residential school system. Suicide among Aboriginal peoples, but more specifically among Aboriginal youth, is of major concern provincially and nationally. Various studies estimate the average rate of youth suicide in some Aboriginal communities is eight times higher than the national average. The Canadian Population Health Initiative (2004) states “the social, economic and environmental conditions of Aboriginal people are worse than those of non-Aboriginal people. These include education, work status, income, housing, water and sewage systems and nutritional options that are readily available and affordable” (Aboriginal Mental Health: A Framework for Alberta, 2009).
Indigenous healing methods use holistic approaches that focus on the connection with family, community, spirituality and nature. Traditional healing may include ceremonies, songs, stories, dances, prayers, traditional medicines, healing circles, talking circles, and connection to Elders.
The Medicine Wheel, sometimes known as the Sacred Hoop, has been used by generations of various Native American tribes for health and healing. It embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree—all of which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life.
Movement in the Medicine Wheel and in Native American ceremonies is circular, and typically in a clockwise, or “sun-wise” direction. This helps to align with the forces of Nature, such as gravity and the rising and setting of the Sun (Native Peoples Concept of Health & Illness, 2020).
Available to all Indigenous peoples across Canada who are seeking immediate crisis intervention. Available in English, French, Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut.
A national, 24-hour toll-free support service operated by trained crisis counselors, many of whom are Indigenous.
Red Deer College Counselling Services
100 College Boulevard
PO Box 5005
Red Deer, AB T4N 5H5
Counselling Services Hours
Monday-Friday: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
*extended hours on Wednesday until 6 pm
Closed Saturday, Sunday,
and all Statutory Holidays
Red Deer College recognizes that our campus is situated on Treaty 7 land, the traditional territory of the Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina and Stoney Nakoda peoples, and that the central Alberta region we serve falls under Treaty 6, traditional Métis, Cree and Saulteaux territory. We honour the First Peoples who have lived here since time immemorial, and we give thanks for the land where RDC sits. This is where we will strive to honour and transform our relationships with one another.
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