School-based educational programs, cultural identity, and mental health among urban Indigenous youth




Joyce, Allison

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University of Victoria


This study aimed to examine the association between school-based cultural connectedness programs in the public school system and mental health outcomes in urban Indigenous youth. Past research shows that school-based programs increase cultural connectedness. Additionally, cultural connectedness predicts positive mental health in Indigenous populations. However, little research has examined the link between school-based programs and mental health, especially in urban Indigenous populations. The researchers volunteered and attended events at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC) to foster a positive rapport with the urban Indigenous community. Participants aged 13-18 were recruited to participate in focus groups. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in the focus groups, and the data was analyzed using thematic analysis. Anticipated themes included community belonging, cultural identity and pride, overall mood, and life satisfaction. Preliminary results indicated two main themes 1) Lack of guidance (uncertainty about how to access programs and resources) and 2) Cultural pride (increased cultural pride and connectedness upon program participation). In summary, this study focuses on the mental health and well-being of urban Indigenous youth in relation to cultural connectedness programs in the public school system. Preliminary results show that programs increase cultural pride, and youth desire more guidance for accessing cultural connectedness programs.



Indigenous populations, cultural connectedness, protective factors, mental health, school based programs