A Life Worth Living: Life Promotion for Indigenous Peoples on-Reserve
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The plight of Indigenous peoples in Canada is a direct result of an undeniable history of systematically oppressive structures and policies aimed at ridding the nation of the “Indian problem”. The dispossession of land, language and culture through assimilation mechanisms such as the Indian Act, Residential Schools, and 60’s Scoop has shaped a legacy of interwoven social, political and economic challenges. Such challenges have made way for a widening gap in the quality of life for Indigenous peoples on-reserve, including disproportionate rates of death by suicide, in comparison with the rest of Canada. Suicide is a symptom of a much broader issue. In 1995, The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples’ (RCAP) released a special report on suicide among Aboriginal people called “Choosing Life.” This report speaks to the symptom of suicide as a “collective anguish - part grief, part anger - tearing at the minds and hearts of many people” as a result of a “cumulative effect of 300 years of colonial history: lands occupied, resources seized, beliefs and cultures ridiculed, children taken away, power concentrated in distant capitals, hopes for honourable co-existence dashed over and over again” (RCAP, 1995). Indigenous peoples are the youngest and fastest growing population in Canada. If the widening gap and social disparity is not addressed now, Canada will have a much larger, much more complex issue to deal with in the future.