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Intergenerational Trauma and Residential Schools

Historical trauma occurs when trauma caused by historical oppression is passed down through generations. For more than 100 years, the Canadian government supported residential school programs that isolated Indigenous children from their families and communities (see Residential Schools in Canada). Under the guise of educating and preparing Indigenous children for their participation in Canadian society, the federal government and other administrators of the residential school system committed what has since been described as an act of cultural genocide. As generations of students left these institutions, they returned to their home communities without the knowledge, skills or tools to cope in either world. The impacts of their institutionalization in residential school continue to be felt by subsequent generations. This is called intergenerational trauma.

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Nunavik

Nunavik, the portion of land within the province of Quebec located north of the 55th parallel, covers approximately 500,000 km2 (representing more than one-third of Quebec’s territory). For approximately 4000 years, Indigenous people have inhabited Nunavik, including Inuit who have made the region their homeland. Today, over 13,000 people live in Nunavik’s 14 villages spread along the Ungava Bay, Hudson Strait and Eastern Hudson Bay coasts.

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Quebec

Quebec is the largest province in Canada. Its territory represents 15.5 per cent of the surface area of Canada and totals more than 1.5 million km2. Quebec shares borders with Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. The province also neighbours on four American states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. The name Quebec was inspired by an Algonquian word meaning “where the river narrows.” The French in New France used it solely to refer to the city of Quebec. The British were the first to use the name in a broader sense.