Intergenerational
trauma

The #UNIGNORABLE issue

Good mental health allows us to live our lives to the fullest—it influences how we feel on a daily basis, allows us to build healthy relationships, and helps us deal with life’s difficulties. But when that integral piece of our overall well-being is missing, it can impact not only our lives, but the lives of those closest to us. And when that trauma is multiplied, and passed on from one generation to the next, it has devastating effects not only on the individuals and families involved, but on entire communities.

Political, social, and economic policies and practices over time have negatively affected the well-being of Calgary and area’s Indigenous population. Suppressed Indigenous culture, identity, and spirituality has resulted in significant loss of language, spirituality, family structure, and traditional roles in Indigenous societies.

As a result of this trauma, Indigenous people have higher suicide and homeless rates, poorer health, lower income, and tend to be less formally educated than other Canadians. Without a chance to fully address and heal from this trauma, it is passed down and perpetuated in Indigenous children and youth.

Healing from intergenerational trauma and preventing it from occurring in future generations is a crucial step in supporting Indigenous people to rebuild their families and communities from a place of hope, strength, and resiliency. Breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma helps ensure their success and well-being and affirms the unique gifts they bring to creating stronger, more inclusive communities.

United Way invests in programs and services—like the Natoo’si Indigenous Healing and Well-being Initiative—that strengthen Indigenous cultural identity and support the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of Indigenous people. To respond to the complex needs of urban Indigenous youth, the Diamond Willow Youth Lodge is a place for young people to connect with peers, facilitate healing and well-being, and access a variety of supports.

21% of Calgary’s homeless population is Indigenous.

Indigenous women make up 54% of the shelter population in Alberta.

Seven generations of Indigenous children (150,000) in Canada were removed from their families and went through the residential school system.

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Randy sits on a medicine wheel carpet in a Calgary agency

Changing local lives

Meet local people supporting those experiencing intergenerational trauma issues, like Randy.

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Reg and Johnny sit on the steps in front of the Diamond Willow Youth Lodge

Explore further

Dive deeper into intergenerational trauma by seeing how it plays out across generations.

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soakleyIntergenerational Trauma