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Healing through art

Program looks to improve mental health, reduce suicide rates in First Nations communities

It’s no secret that art can do great things for the spirit. It can help in exploring difficult subjects, and it can help in healing. Painting, sculpting, drawing, singing, dancing, playing music can all be such positive things.

The First Nations University of Canada is adding some research that backs up the fact that art has healing powers.

With Acting Out, But in a Good Way, researchers are showing that the creation of art can have a big, positive impact on mental health in First Nations communities.


Via cihr-irsc.gc.ca

Benjamin Ironstand, a research assistant with the program, was recently featured in a story by the CBC. He works with other researchers to create visual art and drama classes for First Nations youth on reserves.

"With the arts, we believe and we're finding that it gives students a voice," Ironstand said. "It gives them a way to express their feelings and their stories and who they are."

And, according to the CBC story, by increasing well-being through artistic expression, the team hopes to help reduce suicide rates.

“Our view of health is a holistic one that looks at health issues in Indigenous communities within the context of colonization, which has oppressed and damaged Indigenous peoples’ economic and social systems,” reads the Acting Out, But in a Good Way website.

“Colonization is not just a process that happened in the past, but is ongoing in the present, enacted in relationships of power and privilege that have been constructed historically through many means including war, law, policy, theoretical constructs and the media to name a few.”

Have you used art to heal? What is your go-to form of artistic creation?

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