Intergenerational trauma

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Intergenerational trauma is the legacy of traumatic events (abuse, poverty, loss, etc.) and community experiences (forced migration, war, the residential school system, slavery, etc.); the passing down of historical oppression and its negative physical, psychological, and socioeconomic consequences across generations. - Journal of Interpersonal Violence, adapted by Michelle Xie [1]

Example of intergenerational trauma; Canada's violence towards Indigenous Peoples

Colonialism's historic impact on Indigenous Peoples

  • Researchers have noted how residential schools [2] , racist and colonial policies (i.e. the Indian Act controls Indigenous identity, communities, and governance) and the Sixties scoop have resulted in intergenerational trauma. [3]

Effects of intergenerational trauma [4]

  • When extreme, intergenerational trauma result in parents abusing or neglecting their children the way they were abused or neglected.
  • Traumatized people are also more likely to suffer from suicide, homelessness and addiction.
  • Researchers have linked these outcomes to residential schools and the foster care system. [5]
  • Intergenerational trauma can lead to anxiety, distress, low self-esteem, or depression in younger generations. 

Effects of ongoing colonization 

  • The continuation of settler colonialism (i.e. building projects on Indigenous territory without free, prior and informed consent) and it's consequences (i.e. high rates of poverty in Indigenous communities, the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in Canada's foster care system, the overrepresentation of Indigenous People's in Canadian prisons etc) compounds experiences of intergenerational trauma, making it harder to break the cycle.

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