How Colonization Affects Indigenous Health

With recent events exposing systemic racism, violence, and ignorance, it is becoming more apparent that our governmental system is failing at educating the population about the true history of Canada. Colonization and its effects have impacted the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of Indigenous people worldwide.

Looking at the physical aspects, there are many ways that colonization has affected the physical health of Indigenous people in Canada. Diabetes is one of many health issues that is more prominent in Indigenous populations after colonization. 

“Chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are on the increase. There are definite links between income, social factors and health and there is a higher rate of respiratory problems and other infectious diseases among Indigenous children than among non-Indigenous children.”

In a survey from released in March 2018, shows the results of the 12,137 respondents with diagnosed chronic health conditions. Here’s a small list of the diseases listed:

  • Arthritis (18.3%)
  • High Blood Pressure (17.2%)
  • Diabetes (15.9%)
  • High Cholesterol (10.2%)

Mental health has also been affected heavily. First Nations youth suicide rates are five to seven times higher than non-First Nations youth, with Inuit youth rates 11 times higher than the national average. or decades, there has been a suicide pandemic affected First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people in Canada, with many communities going through a state of emergency.

“In the spring of 2016, Attawapiskat First Nation reserve in Ontario declared a state of emergency after 11 young people tried to commit suicide in one night – adding to the estimated 100 attempts made over 10 months among this community of 2,000 people.”

First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people have lived and survived on their own terms for hundreds of years before “civilization”. Hunting, gathering, and preparing food is how we lived. Indigenous people and our bodies are not used to processed food, dairy, or other products. This causes new health issues like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. While there is no one set solution for dealing with and supporting Indigenous people, everyone can help by educating themselves and others about the history and effects that colonization has on Indigenous people.

Works Cited,than%20among%20non%2DIndigenous%20children.

Decolonizing Healthcare: Addressing Social Stressors In Medicine

About the Author

Mercedes Redman is a proud Indigenous woman from Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation. She is currently interning at E-HIS and attending post-secondary full time. She is pursuing a diploma in Indigenous Communications Arts at the First Nations University of Canada. Mercedes is interested in pursuing a career in journalism and communications and this internship will give her experience and knowledge in the field.