Integrating cultural practices helps in recovery of Indigenous women

New research suggests that the health of Indigenous women recovering from the trauma of partner violence improves when the healing process integrates elder-led circles and other cultural elements.

The study from the University of British Columbia and Western University focused on nurses working with women individually over the course of six to eight months.

Their treatment included weekly circles or group activities led by an elder, which involved sharing personal stories and aspects of Indigenous culture through ceremonies, cultural teachings and traditional crafts.

Colleen Varcoe, a professor of nursing at UBC, says at the end of the program, the women reported significantly fewer symptoms of trauma and depression and a better quality of life compared with how they felt in the beginning.

Study co-author and '60s Scoop survivor Roberta Price says cultural teachings, stories and songs bring out the strength in women.

Participants included 152 Indigenous women from different First Nations and language groups who were living in Vancouver and Surrey, B.C.

Most had survived childhood abuse in a residential school, in addition to partner violence.

The study did not include a control group that received treatment without elder-led circles or cultural elements and the results were self-reported.

The program was tested in British Columbia, and is now being tested in three provinces to make sure it's effective for all women.