Colonisation, suicide, and resilience: Storying with First Nations people living with HIV and AIDS

Sean Hillier, Eliot Winkler, Lynn Lavallée


The impact and trauma of colonisation persists among Indigenous Peoples in Canada, where they face a disparate burden of HIV diagnoses and suicide compared to the general population, yet still demonstrate tremendous resilience. In order to elucidate the issues facing First Nations people living with HIV and AIDS, 29 participants partook in traditional storytelling to share their experiences, resulting in 27 major themes. Participants shared the negative coping mechanisms, suicidal ideations, historical traumas, and stigma experienced following their HIV diagnosis as well as their desire to re-engage and revitalize their connection to culture and community, demonstrating their unwavering resilience. Following the interviews, participants produced recommendations requesting funding for HIV and AIDS treatment and programming in First Nations communities, a government commitment to address issues surrounding poverty, stable housing, clean drinking water and perpetual trauma for northern Indigenous Peoples, and a need for accessible, culturally based treatment programs and services at HIV service organisations.

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