CIET started supporting Canadian Aboriginal community-based researchers of resilience in 1995. An evolving approach to Aboriginal resilience used a combination of standard instruments and questionnaires of local design. Over the years, CIET measured personal assets like sense of coherence, spirituality, knowledge, pride in one’s heritage, mastery or self-efficacy, self-esteem, low levels of distress, involvement in traditional ways and activities, church attendance. Other indicators reflected the social dimension of resilience: feeling supported; parental care and support; parental monitoring, attitudes, and example; peer support; and support from the wider community.
Pride in one’s heritage, self-esteem, low distress, and mastery were measurable personal assets of resilient Aboriginal youth in a variety of cultures and circumstances. Early efforts to link resilience with specific features of culture or spirituality did not meet with success — largely reflecting failure to ask the right questions. Parental care and support, parental monitoring, parental attitudes, and parental example clearly supported the resilient Aboriginal youth in most settings. But peers are an even stronger influence, critical in relation to different types of behaviour from smoking to drinking to substance abuse to violence, unsafe sex, and suicidal tendencies. More generally, having someone to confide in, to count on in times of crisis, some-one to give advice and someone who makes one feel cared for are import-ant factors in youth resilience and something that communities can help to provide even where the family is not the support it should be and where peers are more of a hindrance than a help.
CIET currently supports three resilience research projects involving Aboriginal youth in Canada: suicide prevention, reduction of HIV risk, and reduction of domestic violence. The latest resilience measurement tools include enculturation and revised approaches to Aboriginal spirituality.
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