Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2010


Published in Great Plains Research 20.1 (Spring 2010): 145.


Copyright 2010 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


In Healing Traditions, the editors have assembled the voices of 29 academics, researchers, and mental health professionals from across Canada as well as Australia and the United States. This distinguished panel offers an important contribution to our understanding of Aboriginal mental health issues and the unique healing processes currently underway in a number of communities. Kirkmayer and Valaskakis contextualize mental health in a distinctive manner, acknowledging how Canada’s First Peoples have been affected by colonization over several hundred years. We learn how historic social policies continue to affect individuals, their families, and the communities in which they live. The notion of identity and the social confusion these policies create are developed in several chapters. The heterogenic nature of these communities, with their own cultural values and experiences requiring distinct healing strategies for Canada’s Métis, Inuit, Cree, or other Indigenous communities, is elaborated on by the contributors. These themes are intertwined within each of the book’s sections, but rather than causing confusion, their reiteration reinforces the concept that practitioners must be students of history as well as students of their field of practice in order to engage effectively with Aboriginal people and their healing pathways.