The notions of resilience that have emerged in developmental psychology and psychiatry in recent years require systematic rethinking to address the distinctive cultures, geographic and social settings, and histories of adversity of indigenous peoples. In Canada, the overriding social realities of indigenous peoples include their historical rootedness to a specific place (with traditional lands, communities, and transactions with the environment) and the profound displacements caused by colonization and subsequent loss of autonomy, political oppression, and bureaucratic control. We report observations from an ongoing collaborative project on resilience in Inuit, Métis, Mi'kmaq, and Mohawk communities that suggests the value of incorporating indigenous constructs in resilience research. These constructs are expressed through specific stories and metaphors grounded in local culture and language; however, they can be framed more generally in terms of processes that include: regulating emotion and supporting adaptation through relational, ecocentric, and cosmocentric concepts of self and personhood; revisioning collective history in ways that valorize collective identity; revitalizing language and culture as resources for narrative self-fashioning, social positioning, and healing; and renewing individual and collective agency through political activism, empowerment, and reconciliation. Each of these sources of resilience can be understood in dynamic terms as emerging from interactions between individuals, their communities, and the larger regional, national, and global systems that locate and sustain indigenous agency and identity. This social-ecological view of resilience has important implications for mental health promotion, policy, and clinical practice.
Kirmayer, L. J., Dandeneau, S., Marshall, E., Phillips, M. K., & Williamson, K. J. (2011). Rethinking resilience from indigenous perspectives. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Canadian Psychiatric Association. https://doi.org/10.1177/070674371105600203