Description: One of the challenges involved in trying to Indigenize Psychology is tied to fact that western Psychology is rather deeply grounded in the same a-cultural, individualistic perspective that defines the western or settler perspective. What this can mean is that while Psychology as a discipline CAN consider issues of culture, stigma and social stereotypes and prejudice, these are secondary and not typically seen as constitutive of what it means to be a person of a non-mainstream cultural heritage. Matters of truth and reconciliation tend to be discussed at “peoples” or national perspective levels. While critically important, these sorts of discussions do not easily get us down to the individual levels where Psychology is largely conceptualized. What to do? Well, one potentially informative line of enquiry would be to ask indigenous persons about their personal lived experiences. The article linked below describes a research enterprise that utilized a range of qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate and articulate the racism experiences urban indigenous women in their day to day lives and in circumstances where they sought housing or health care. In provides a rich starting place for us to begin to build an understanding of how racism and a lack of cultural safety infects the psychological functioning wellbeing and development of urban aboriginal women.
Source: Benoit, A., Cotnam, J., O’Brien-Teengs, D., Greene, S., Beaver, K., Zoccole, A., & Loutfy, M. (2019). Racism Experiences of Urban Indigenous Women in Ontario, Canada:“We All Have That Story That Will Break Your Heart”. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 10(2), 1-27
Date: October 27, 2019
Photo Credit: https://www.animikii.com/news/indigenous-women-in-tech
There is a wealth of take-aways available in the above linked article, informative of how racism impacts health and access to and experience within services by urban Indigenous women. The Mi’kmaq principle of Two-Eyed seeing is a particularly powerful way to begin to consider individual experiences from culturally informed psychological perspectives. A good starting point for Indigenizing Psychology.
Questions for Discussion:
- Why might it be useful to pay close attention to the experiences of urban Indigenous women with racism and a lack of cultural safety, especially in relation to the health care system?
- What is “Two Eyed seeing” and how could it help in developing a more culturally informed Indigenous Psychology?
- What role might a more Indigenously informed Psychology play in the development culturally safe policies (and in moving Truth and Reconciliation forward)?
References (Read Further):
Benoit, A., Cotnam, J., O’Brien-Teengs, D., Greene, S., Beaver, K., Zoccole, A., & Loutfy, M. (2019). Racism Experiences of Urban Indigenous Women in Ontario, Canada:“We All Have That Story That Will Break Your Heart”. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 10(2), 1-27. (link above)
Allan, B., & Smylie, J. (2015). First Peoples, second class treatment: The role of racism in the health and well-being of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Retrieved from
Duckitt, J. (2001). Reducing prejudice: An historical and multi-level approach. In M. Augoustinos & K. J. Reynolds (Eds.), Understanding the psychology of prejudice and racism
(pp. 253-271). Beverley Hills, CA: Sage. doi: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446218877.n15
Martin, D. H. (2012). Two-Eyed Seeing: A framework for understanding Indigenous and non-Indigenous approaches to Indigenous health research. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research
Archive, 44 (2), 20-42. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22894005
Goodman, A., Fleming, K., Markwick, N., Morrison, T., Lagimodiere, L., Kerr, T., & Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society (2017). “They treated me like crap and I know it was because I was Native”: The healthcare experiences of Aboriginal peoples living in Vancouver’s inner city. Social Science & Medicine, 178, 87-94. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5367883/