Colonialism had a long-term impact on the development process of family members. The indigenous families in Canada endured different colonial practices and various associated risks. Thus, the transformed family reality is a result of the heterogeneity and complexities of colonialism. Therefore, family life had the opportunity to grow and shape its family determination. Today, some effects include significant risk in child policy, youth assistance, and coping with family diversity. Most children require child assistance designs that promote their coping mechanisms. The case of Nimi and Aki, a seven-year boy and his sister, reveals the change in the family image. Their parents face challenges in providing their families necessities as set forth by the child welfare office. Colonial practices had changed the family structure and created a cycle of violence, psychological maltreatment, and a wide range of outcomes on a family unit scale.
Impact of Colonial Practices
Progression outcomes of diversity on family units created new forms of family. During the colonial practices in Canada, there were sifts from how parents provided for their families. The quantitative distribution of family necessities created a shift in the increase of non-marital births. Therefore, poverty is a reality among families, as the case of Nimi and her parent reveal. The inability of families to meet necessities triggered children like Nimi to engage in teenage sexual activities to earn a living. As a result, cases of teenage pregnancy increased, leading to single-parent families. Menzies (2020) indicates that the historical oppression that indigenous Canadian faced during the colonial period has been passed on o through different generations. The evidence from the Canadian government programs on supporting residential schools that segregated indigenous children from their communities and families depicts the long-term effects of colonial practices.
The case study evidences the extent to which colonialism affected the family structure. The settlement programs in Australia and North American colonies disrupted the family unite for indigenous Canadians. The Canadian people experienced colonialism with had a toll on their social fabric and led to the oppression and scattering of families. As a result, this hindered the significant population growth. The separation of families during colonial practices reduced the ability of families to care for one another. There was little that the indigenous Canadian would do resist the strategies of the colonial masters.
Capitalism was a way to enrich the wealthy in society at the expense of the masses. Therefore, colonial practices sought to entrench capitalism, which created families’ excessive demands, leading to poverty (Halseth and Greenwood 2019). For instance, the temporal, economic, and educational demands rendered many families unable to provide adequate educational opportunities to their children. Therefore, the political practice initiated policies that responded appropriately to address the problem. With increasing poverty, children from poor socioeconomic backgrounds endured the impact of poverty.
Colonialism affected family structure. Childbearing was initially a process that brought communities together. However, colonials encouraged freedom and autonomy, disrupting the colonial approach to childbearing (Anderson 2011). However, the objective of the Canadian government was to educate children and prepare the indigenous Canadians to participate in society, and the school system impacted the cultural change. As a result, a generation of children discontinued their learning and missed out on increasing their knowledge and skills to cope in society. Therefore, institutionalizing residential school programs continue to be a problem that different generations suffer.
The increase in single-family structures in contemporary Canada is an outcome of colonial practices that tilted the welfare programs, changed the designs of progressive diversity, and placed immense pressure on parents. According to Muir and Bohr (2014), the child-rearing practices among the Aboriginal Canadian changed. The focus from the traditional approach o a modern child-rearing system is an outcome of colonialism. Therefore, all these are due to the trauma, reduced focus on extended families, and emerging on child autonomy. Comparatively, in earlier years, indigenous Canada showed a harmonized society without the existence of single-family systems. However, the proportions of teenage pregnancies and children born outside marriage indicate a glaring reality of colonialism’s modern long-term effect.
The psychological trauma on parents influenced the health behaviors of family members. Outcomes throughout the lifetime in Canada and other western research provide a picture of how disparities emerged between the health behavior of indigenous and non-indigenous populations. The reduced life expectancy reflects the worse health outcomes because of the changing health behaviors. Most indigenous family members became susceptible to mental diseases and other health risk behaviors that impacted different non-communicable diseases (Waterworth et al., 2015). The case outlines how Nimi’s grandmother has post-traumatic stress disorder and does not have access to Canadian programs to provide psycho-social support.
Indigenous Canadians’ behavioral control and attitudes towards their health were products of factors beyond their control. For example, the social disruption that colonial practice caused promoted the health risks behavior with parents enduring stress and other cases of mental illness. Women endured all forms of abuse to work and provide for their families during the colonial era (Anderson 2011). Although most of them were young, the burden to work and endure the pains of their families and communities led them to establish a particular lifestyle, endure poverty and discrimination. All these could exacerbate the illogical social disruptions leading to the adoption of risky health behavior such as overindulgence in premarital sex. The majority of the Indigenous Canadian wanted to cope, but the existing framework did not psychologically protect their cultural identity.
Cases of inequality and social injustice affected the indigenous Canadians. Indigenous Canadians’ current state demonstrates the disproportionate burden of ill health that came with socioeconomic injustices (Halseth and Greenwood 2019). The historical colonial context indicates an impact of early child development and care programs on rationalizing equality in society. Scientific evidence shows that the current state of health and wellbeing in Canadian society is an outcome of different lifestyles, behavior, and programs that the state initiated during the colonial period. Issues of equity and reconciliation demonstrate the federal government’s mandate to protect the rights of indigenous people across Canada. As a result, the approach reflects the social work principle for protecting the families and children from the impacts of inequalities that plagued them during colonialism.
Individuality is rife in Canadian society today due to the increased focus on capitalism. Ethnographic accounts outline the dynamics of family life and the wellbeing of the child. The tendency to appreciate the present family dynamics showcase the repeated patterns of social, economic, and psychological changes that originate from the historical events of colonialism. Previous, education was something that grandparents and parents did. Memories from participants in Anderson’s research indicate that the grandmother helped process the experiences of a child (Anderson 2011). Most children cherished the moments of learning where they drew tenets of wisdom on living with others in society. However, today, most family systems do not enjoy the opportunity of grandmothers passing down a wealth of knowledge to the young generation. Increased individuality and focus on looking for livelihood has made most families busy with each other. The critical teaching that grandparents shared with their grandchildren created a principle of reciprocity. The young people helped facilitate learning in informal programs that took care of the psychological and social wellbeing of everyone. Increased individuality in modern life exposes people to loneness leading to different challenges of post-traumatic disorder and other mental health challenges.
Family development embraces resilience. Today, children are learning to be highly communicative and outgoing as part of the design to overcome the impact of colonial practices. Resilience is critical to the positive endurance of a risk environment. Most people share language and other critical cultural domains. Public education follows a cultural assimilation model, which is critical in social work.
Family is a critical institution that suffered under the guise of colonialism. Modern trends in families have developed a capitalistic and individualistic approach to guide their lives. Such an approach affects their psycho-social wellbeing. The heterogeneity and complexity of families continue to increase. However, in post-colonial Canada, the indigenous people have endured significant adverse impacts of colonialism. There are several emerging issues of same-sex families, pro-abortion, and poverty that degrade the family unit. Also, families face pertinent issues today, including the threats of terminal illness and increased rates of diverse and single families. For this reason, the oppressive practices continued more, thus affecting the spirit and dignity of the indigenous people. The colonial masters took away their land and affected their ability to grow food continued the socioeconomic disparities. Also, colonialists affected the culture of the indigenous people by disrupting the family unit.
Anderson, K. (2011). Life stages and Native women: Memory, teachings, and story medicine (Vol. 15). Univ. of Manitoba Press.
Halseth, R., & Greenwood, M. (2019). Indigenous early childhood development in Canada: Current state of knowledge and future directions. Prince George, BC, Canada: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health.
Menzies, P. (2020). Intergenerational Trauma and Residential Schools. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/intergenerational-trauma-and-residential-schools
Muir, N., & Bohr, Y. (2019). Contemporary practice of traditional Aboriginal child rearing: A review. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 14(1), 153-165.
Waterworth, P., Pescud, M., Braham, R., Dimmock, J., & Rosenberg, M. (2015). Factors influencing the health behaviour of indigenous Australians: Perspectives from support people. PloS one, 10(11), e0142323.