Witnessing and hearing stories about racism can impact your health. The feelings evoked can make you ill if not processed.
The recent news of Tina Fontaine’s trial and the acquittal of Gerald Stanley, a white farmer accused of killing a young Indigenous man, Colten Boushie, of the Red Pheasant First Nation are examples of the Canadian legal system’s commitment to the Indian Act and colonial dominance.
This ongoing colonial dominance has a transgenerational trauma impact on the health of Indigenous and colonized peoples.
Two recent examples that indicate the kind of violence that Black people experience: A school that allowed police to shackle a Black six-year old girl’s wrists and ankles; a children’s aid system that put a child refugee from Somalia into foster care yet never applied for his Canadian citizenship, so years later he received deportation orders to a country where he does not speak the language.
The impact of this colonialism and anti-Black racism on the health of Black and Indigenous peoples is elongated and insidious. We navigate systems, structures and communities that perpetuate abhorrence towards us in all aspects of our lives.
Experiencing and fighting such systems for justice for our children, ourselves and our community members has devastating effects on our health.
As a health and human rights researcher, therapist and professor who has explored the deep implications of racism, I would like to share some insights into the impacts of racism on our health.
My hope is that by doing so I create dialogue and encourage communities to continue to voice their experiences of violence and racism — in order to demand changes and ultimately create more supports.