Indigenous organizations seeing influx of mental health requests following discovery of grave sites
Since the recent discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools across the country, many trauma and mental health workers have seen an increases in the number of people looking for help.
Regina Treaty Status Indian Services Inc. put together a collection of services to support both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. It’s dealing with a surge of calls from people seeking help, as more graves are found around residential schools.
“To talk about how people are feeling and not only the indigenous community, but also Canadians, mainstream Canadians,” Erica Beaudin, Executive Director of Regina Treaty Status Indian Services Inc., said.
Beaudin said Indigenous people have been speaking their truths through the Truth and Reconciliation process. She feels until the recent discovery of graves, most Canadians didn’t seem to understand what happened, or what kind of role they could play in moving forward.
“This is perhaps the perfect time, where ears are open, where the brain is willing to listen, where the heart is open,” Beaudin said.
Since many residential school survivors attended multiple locations, Beaudin said its important to remember the wide spread pain these findings can cause.
“There's an interconnectedness and a collective grief that is occurring right now, and that is portrayed in, or I should say it comes out in different ways for different people,” Beaudin said.
Similar services are being offered at the Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre. Mental health therapists, councillors and Elders are all on hand to help anyone who seeks their services.
“They’re not just for Indigenous people. If non-Indigenous Canadians want to come to the Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre and they want to get something off their shoulders and they want to cry and they want to talk to somebody, we are here for them,” Robert Doucette, Executive Director of the Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, said.
Doucette said policies continue to impact the number of Indigenous youth in care.
He feels although politicians and leaders often cause change, the road to healing for all Canadians starts with talking and listening.
“Sit down with the First Nations and Métis brothers and sisters, because again I say to you we are all part of this family. And lets start the dialogue amongst ourselves,” Doucette said.
Beaudin said while the average Canadian is not directly responsible for anti-Indigenous polices, it’s important they understand the benefits they received from them.
If you are a former residential school survivor in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here.