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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Special Series on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series Books

Special Posts on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series:
By: Christine McFarlane

Every once in awhile, I look at my blog and try to figure out what I can do differently on it. In the last while, I have been struggling with certain things, and I found it quite fitting that, after I had a very vivid dream the other day of a fellow Native person asking me

“do you still pray?” and then handing me a bundle of sage, that in the mail today, I received some books from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation-which is an Aboriginal-managed, national, Ottawa-based, not for profit private corporation will soon be closing its doors, due to the cutbacks of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

For those who do not know what the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) is, I will explain. The AHF was established March 31, 1998 and was provided with a one-time grant of $350 million dollars by the Federal government of Canada as a part of “Gathering Strength-Canada’s Action Plan.” The foundation was given an eleven year mandate, ending March 31, 2009, to encourage and support, through research and funding contributions, community based Aboriginal directed healing initiatives which address the legacy of physical and sexual abuse suffered in Canada’s Indian Residential School System, including inter-generational impacts.

According to the AHF,  “As a result of institutional abuses suffered in the past, Aboriginal people today suffer from the many effects of unresolved trauma including but not limited to:
·      Lateral violence (when an oppressed group turns on itself and begins to violate each other
·      Suicide
·      Depression
·      Poverty
·      Alcoholism
·      Lack of parenting skills
·      Lack of capacity to build and sustain healthy families and communities

And their vision is

“of a future when these effects have been meaningfully  resolved and Aboriginal people have restored their wellbeing for themselves and for their descendants seven generations ahead.”[1]

It was during my studies at the University of Toronto in the Aboriginal Studies Program that my professors had me become aware of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and their Research Series books and it was these books, which include “Aboriginal Healing in Canada, “ “Historic Trauma and Healing,” “Resilience and Residential School Legacy,” just to name a few that helped me to understand what happened to my people, and to my own biological family and myself. 

To hear that the funding has been cut to such an integral organization is disheartening. I encountered the AHF table at The Meeting Place: Truth and Reconciliation Conference at the end of May and ordered the other research series books. Though it is a heck of a lot of books, I wanted to invest in them.  I have a few here at home already, but I wanted to invest in the library of books so that once I was done reading and reviewing them for my blog, I could donate them to the First Nations House Library at the University of Toronto because it is these books that will help others in our community understand the importance of the issues covered in these books. I also hope that those who read these books will take what they learn from these books and carry them in their own learning journey, both personally and academically.

Just to temporarily digress, my first review will be a book put out by The Truth and Reconciliation Commision of Canada “Canada, Aboriginal Peoples, and Residential Schools-They Came for the Children,” and then I will review the resource books I have acquired from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF).

It is my hope that as I finish each review, my readers will see the importance of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the resources they have faithfully put together. I just wish that our Prime Minister-Stephen Harper saw this and re funded this organization because on one hand the government apologizes for the Indian Residential Schools System and then takes away the funding that helps the victims, families and communities move on with their lives.

For more information on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and a more detailed background of their corporation, please visit

Chi miigwetch

[1] Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Retrieved June 27, 2012.

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