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J Adolesc Health. 2019 Apr 1. pii: S1054-139X(19)30064-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.01.022. [Epub ahead of print]

Intergenerational Trauma: The Relationship Between Residential Schools and the Child Welfare System Among Young People Who Use Drugs in Vancouver, Canada.

Author information

1
BC Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada; Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Electronic address: bbarker@cfenet.ubc.ca.
2
BC Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada.
3
Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
4
Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
5
BC Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada; School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
6
BC Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada; Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
7
BC Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada; Division of AIDS, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
8
BC Centre on Substance Use, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada; School of Public Policy, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

This study investigated the relationship between familial residential school system (RSS) exposure and personal child welfare system (CWS) involvement among young people who use drugs (PWUD).

METHODS:

Data were obtained from two linked cohorts of PWUD in Vancouver, Canada, and restricted to Indigenous participants. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the relationship between three categories of familial RSS exposure (none, grandparent, and parent) and CWS involvement. A secondary analysis assessed the likelihood of CWS involvement between non-Indigenous and Indigenous PWUD with no familial RSS exposure.

RESULTS:

Between December 2011 and May 2016, 675 PWUD (aged <35 years) were included in this study, 40% identified as Indigenous. In multivariable analyses, compared with Indigenous participants with no RSS exposure (reference), those with a grandparent in the RSS had a higher likelihood of having been in CWS (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.34, 95% confidence interval [CI]: .67-2.71), as did those with a parent exposed to RSS (AOR = 2.03, 95% CI: 1.03-3.99). In secondary analysis, the odds of CWS involvement was not significantly different between non-Indigenous and Indigenous PWUD with no familial RSS exposure (AOR = .63, 95% CI: .38-1.06).

CONCLUSIONS:

We observed a dose-response-type trend between familial RSS exposure and personal CWS involvement and a nonsignificant difference in the likelihood of CWS involvement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous PWUD when controlling for RSS exposure. These data demonstrate the intergenerational impact of the RSS on the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in the CWS. Findings have critical implications for public policy and practice including reconciliation efforts with Indigenous Peoples.

KEYWORDS:

Canada; Child welfare system; Colonization; Illicit drug use; Indigenous Peoples; Intergenerational trauma; Youth substance use

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