Editorial Affirmative Challenges in Indigenous Resilience Research

Neil Andersson Executive director CIET

The well recognized advantage of resilience research is its ability to look at the positive side of things. A focus not on what is wrong with Aboriginal people, but on their strengths, offers some practical benefits.

First, it raises directly the issue of what to do. A concern about risks might show, for example, that 72% of Aboriginal youth smoke cigarettes and (yet again) that those who smoke are more likely to drink. This is not nearly as useful in public health terms as the finding that youth who do not smoke are three times as likely to be involved in traditional activities. As we get better at Indigenous resilience research, we might learn exactly what is protective about involvement in traditional activities. This is good research.

Second, the positive tone of resilience research changes the terms of engagement between researchers and the communities. Almost everyone is interested to learn about their own strengths. Few are motivated by being told yet again about their problems, though this is what they will be dealing with as they develop their strengths. This is good for research.

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