CPA communiqué regarding residential schools
Please note: The following statement deals with topics that may be triggering.
The Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) is deeply disturbed by the recoveries in recent months of Indigenous children from unmarked graves at residential institutions across Canada. This, along with the horrific death of Joyce Echaquan, serve as reminders of both historical and ongoing systemic anti-Indigenous racism and colonialism. These reminders may elicit significant distress, including triggering of posttraumatic symptoms.
Recent events have made psychiatrists and others take notice of what Indigenous Peoples have been saying for generations. We acknowledge the role that the healthcare system and providers have in the perpetuation of this ongoing injustice.
We recognize the pervasive ways in which racism, colonialism, and intergenerational trauma continue to impact the lives and health of Indigenous Peoples and communities, including when they seek mental health care. We have an individual and collective responsibility to educate ourselves regarding the histories and realities of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and to ensure that these injustices are not carried into the future. We call on all psychiatrists and mental health care institutions to uphold their responsibility to provide culturally safe and trauma-informed care.
The CPA commits to supporting the implementation of the seven Calls to Action pertaining to “Health” identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We recognize that Indigenous leaders and communities have shown remarkable strength and resilience; their leadership must be supported in guiding our society through collective healing and justice. We stand in solidarity with our Indigenous colleagues, patients, families and communities.
Both as an organization and a profession, we recognize that we are at the beginning of our journey in understanding our various roles in perpetuating systemic racism. We affirm our commitment to this important and vital work as we move towards meaningful reconciliation and systemic change. Words are meaningless without action.
We would like to highlight the following resources:
- If you or someone you encounter would benefit from support concerning these issues, the following resources are available:
- Indian Residential School Survivors and Family crisis line is confidential, toll-free, and available 24 hours/day: 1-866-925-4419
- Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program: https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1581971225188/1581971250953
- Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society: 1-800-721-0066
- To learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its recommendations, particularly the ones pertaining to health (i.e., recommendations 18 to 24), please visit: www.trc.ca
- Please find below some resources to learn about reconciliation and Indigenous history:
- First Nations University of Canada free online course: https://www.fnuniv.ca/partnerships/reconciliation/
- University of Alberta Indigenous Canada free online course: https://www.ualberta.ca/admissions-programs/online-courses/indigenous-canada/index.html.