Residential school survivors and their descendants show poorer health outcomes: survey

Residential school survivors and their descendants show poorer health outcomes: survey
From CBC - March 14, 2018

The impacts of residential schools on the health and well-being of First Nations people are similar, whether they attended the schools themselves or are descended from someone who did, a new survey suggests.

The finding comes from the third regional health survey by the First Nations Information Governance Centre, a non-profit organization with a mandate from the Assembly of First Nations. The centre has conducted the only comprehensive survey done in Canada of the health and socio-economic conditions on reserves.

The first volume, being made public today, looks at physical and mental health, employment and income, housing and residential school experiences.

On the latter it found the number of former residential school students still living is dwindling, but the impacts of the schools continue for the students' children and grandchildren.

Jonathan Dewar, executive director of the centre that produced the survey, said this is in keeping with similar research over the last 15 years.

"Our studies indicate the impact of intergenerational survivors of residential schools were similar, sometimes identical to residential school survivors," he said.

About 15 per cent of adults who live on a reserve in Canada said they had attended a residential school. That number was 20 per cent in the first two surveys released in 2003 and 2010. Nearly two in three of those who attended said the schools had negatively impacted their health and well being.

An elevated risk of suicide, addiction

More than four in 10 adults who attended a residential school say they were sexually abused and seven in 10 say they were physically and verbally abused.

About one-tenth reported the schools had a positive impact while about one-quarter said it had no impact, good or bad.

The survey found former students or children of former students were less likely to say they were in good or excellent health compared with those who were not touched by the schools.

Residential school survivors and those whose parents or grandparents attended were more likely to have considered suicide at some time in their life and had higher rates of binge drinking and drug use, including marijuana and opioids.

'Signs of progress'

No work to be found


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