Colonization of Aboriginal peoples has created serious challenges for individuals and communities, particularly with regard to issues of independence and control. Currently there is a pressing need to address these issues, on both the individual and group (or collective) levels. Research in the general population highlights the role of perceived personal control in wellbeing, and hints at a similar role for perceived collective control. The present research investigated the impact of perceived collective control on the wellbeing of Aboriginal youth. Residents of two Cree communities in northern Manitoba collaborated in the research. Together we developed two surveys on youth well-being, completed by students in grades 7 and up.
The results of each study indicated that greater perceived individual internal control was associated with greater psychological well-being. However, multidimensional measures of control employed in Study 2 indicated an association between greater perceived individual control over drinking and decreased well-being. Additionally, greater perceived group control was associated with greater well-being, and the effect of group control on wellbeing was at least partially accounted for by individual control. Overall, this research indicates the need for greater consideration of group factors in efforts to enhance and support Aboriginal youth well-being.
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