Session 6


conditions that lead to wellness, resilience and growth

Indigenous perspectives

In many Indigenous traditions, tears are considered sacred and transformative. There are ceremonies, rituals and protocols intended to support a person through various ages and stages of life to ensure that the conditions for thriving are restored. The restoration process usually includes the recognition of a period of hardship and isolation, followed by a return to one’s village through a difficult emotional and spiritual journey.

Many of the traditional approaches to wellness include the process of grieving for all that has been lost individually and collectively as a result of colonization and residential schools. The understandings of tears and how necessary they are exist within Indigenous wisdom traditions and are often overlooked in contemporary mental health approaches. Certain songs, ceremonies, stories and practices are intended to honour the psychological and emotional cycles and seasons we experience as humans across the lifespan. Tears are normalized as a necessary aspect of being human, and different cultures have their own unique ways of inviting sadness and grief. Drumming, singing, praying, going to the forest to walk or going to the water are all ways to soften the heart and restore the conditions for well-being.

Indigenous perspectives on child development take into account the role that overcoming challenges and difficulties plays in becoming a whole, fully integrated person. The ultimate goal of development is a strong balance of heart and mind. However, it is also recognized that this process is not easy.

Indigenous Peoples often consider the last stage of maturation as the one in which a young person is faced with obstacles and undergoes rites of passage. During this time, a young person grapples and comes to terms with their circumstances. It is through this process that a person comes to know themselves, their mind and their strengths.

Indigenous Peoples have ceremonies, rituals and rites of passage to help youth navigate this stage of their development, in which struggle and hardship are viewed as necessary and inevitable. Within many Indigenous traditions, this passage is a normal part of life and is supported in ways that are distinctive and based on the knowledge systems of a people living since time immemorial in a specific geographical area. This stage of maturation is where the courage and confidence that so many youth who suffer with anxiety are missing is born. These are the relational conditions that need to be restored.

Studies have revealed some of the ways in which collective, holistic Indigenous worldviews and life ways promote the development and restoration of resilience through intergenerational connections and cultural continuity. They include:

Stories of Restoring as Medicine

'It's your path but you don't have to walk it alone.'

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top