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Cultural Connectedness and Its Relation to Mental Wellness for First Nations Youth

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Abstract

We explored the interrelationships among components of cultural connectedness (i.e., identity, traditions, and spirituality) and First Nations youth mental health using a brief version of the original Cultural Connectedness Scale. Participants included 290 First Nations youth (M age = 14.4) who were recruited from both urban and rural school settings in Saskatchewan and Southwestern Ontario. We performed a confirmatory factor analysis of the Cultural Connectedness Scale-Short Version (CCS-S) items to investigate the factor stability of the construct in our sample. We examined the relationships between the CCS-S subscales and self-efficacy, sense of self (present and future), school connectedness, and life satisfaction using hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses to establish the validity of the abbreviated measure. The results revealed that cultural connectedness, as measured by the 10-item CCS-S, had strong associations with the mental health indicators assessed and, in some cases, was associated with First Nations youth mental health above and beyond other social determinants of health. Our results extend findings from previous research on cultural connectedness by elucidating the meaning of its components and demonstrate the importance of culture for positive youth development.
ORIGINAL PAPER
Cultural Connectedness and Its Relation to Mental
Wellness for First Nations Youth
Angela Snowshoe
1
Claire V. Crooks
2
Paul. F. Tremblay
3
Riley E. Hinson
3
Published online: 2 November 2016
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media New York 2016
Abstract We explored the interrelationships among components of cultural con-
nectedness (i.e., identity, traditions, and spirituality) and First Nations youth mental
health using a brief version of the original Cultural Connectedness Scale. Partici-
pants included 290 First Nations youth (M
age
=14.4) who were recruited from both
urban and rural school settings in Saskatchewan and Southwestern Ontario. We
performed a confirmatory factor analysis of the Cultural Connectedness Scale-Short
Version (CCS-S) items to investigate the factor stability of the construct in our
sample. We examined the relationships between the CCS-S subscales and self-
efficacy, sense of self (present and future), school connectedness, and life satis-
faction using hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses to establish the validity
of the abbreviated measure. The results revealed that cultural connectedness, as
measured by the 10-item CCS-S, had strong associations with the mental health
indicators assessed and, in some cases, was associated with First Nations youth
mental health above and beyond other social determinants of health. Our results
extend findings from previous research on cultural connectedness by elucidating the
meaning of its components and demonstrate the importance of culture for positive
youth development.
Keywords First Nations Youth Cultural connectedness Mental health
Assessment Resilience
&Angela Snowshoe
Angela.Snowshoe@uregina.ca
1
Department of Education, University of Regina, Education Building, 3737 Wascana Parkway,
Regina, SK S4S 0A2, Canada
2
Department of Education, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
3
Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
123
J Primary Prevent (2017) 38:67–86
DOI 10.1007/s10935-016-0454-3
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Research describes culture as a vibrant guidepost that shapes and helps people make meaning of worldviews and replicates itself as an identifiable community (Wexler & Gone, 2012). Cultural connectedness is an understanding and association with facets of one's culture (Henson et al., 2016;Snowshoe et al., 2017). ...
... Scholars indicate that cultural connectedness combined with guidance from AI Elders might protect AI youths against suicide (Doria et al., 2021). Snowshoe et al. (2017) avow a positive connection between culture and AI youths' mental health. A strong sense of cultural identity is a protective factor for adverse mental health outcomes (Brougham & Haar, 2013;Houkamau & Sibley, 2011;Williams et al., 2018), improved self-esteem, increased healthiness, and lesser frequencies of binge drinking (Gone, 2013;Saewyc et al., 2013;Snowshoe et al., 2017). ...
... Snowshoe et al. (2017) avow a positive connection between culture and AI youths' mental health. A strong sense of cultural identity is a protective factor for adverse mental health outcomes (Brougham & Haar, 2013;Houkamau & Sibley, 2011;Williams et al., 2018), improved self-esteem, increased healthiness, and lesser frequencies of binge drinking (Gone, 2013;Saewyc et al., 2013;Snowshoe et al., 2017). Moreover, scholars reported that AI youths can overcome mental health struggles by developing belongingness to their tribal culture and connecting with tribal spirituality (Pharris et al., 1997). ...
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This article presents findings captured during a study with four Non-Indigenous child and adolescent psychiatrists treating American Indian youths at a child and adolescent psychiatry hospital located in a rural northwestern state. The author used a qualitative design to develop a deeper understanding of how the psychiatrists conceptualize the relationships between the components of school connectedness and American Indian youths. The study resulted in categorizing 53 descriptors of protective factors and 31 descriptors of risk factors associated with elements of school connectedness identified as 1) Cultural Connectedness, 2) Community, 3) Caregivers, 4) Teachers, and 5) Peers. The descriptors are illustrated through richly detailed comments from the participants.
... In addition, associations between mental wellness and different dimensions of cultural identity (e.g., centrality, cultural connectedness and belonging, cultural efficacy) have also been highlighted. For example, cultural connectedness, measured through identity, traditions, and spirituality subscales, was related to increased selfefficacy and sense of self for Canadian Indigenous youth (two Inuit participants; Snowshoe et al., 2017). ...
... As described in Table 1, these factors include three measures of perceived social support and within-group cohesion; a set of behaviours and value perceptions related to traditional activities and practices; participation in different activities that represent opportunities to strengthen social ties and to receive social support; and, finally, two dimensions of cultural identity (i.e., centrality and connectedness). Centrality refers to the extent to which individuals feel their native culture as a central or important part of the self (Schwartz et al., 2014); connectedness (Snowshoe et al., 2017) describes perception of connections to Inuit elders, youth, and other aboriginal people, and feeling comfortable with Inuit and non-Inuit. All sociocultural factors were (Richmond et al., 2007) -Positive interactions: "Have someone to have a good time with" -Emotional support: "Have someone to talk if I feel troubled or need emotional support", "Have someone to count on when I need advice", "Have someone to listen when I need to talk" -Love and affection: "Have someone who shows me love and affection" Likert scale (1-All of the time to 5-Never) Continuous score calculated by summing reversed scale (Cronbach α = 0.79). ...
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Objective: Built on the Inuit determinants approach of health, this study aimed to identify sociocultural factors associated with mental health among Inuit of Nunavik to guide programs and services. Methods: The data were collected through the Qanuilirpitaa? 2017, a survey characterized by the involvement of several Inuit representatives. Depressive symptoms (10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale, CES-D), lifetime suicide ideation and attempts, and past-year ideation were self-reported mental health indicators. Sociocultural factors represented four thematic domains: social support, community activities, traditional practices, and cultural identity. Analyses tested whether the sociocultural factors were associated with indicators of mental health using weighted multivariate regressions. Results: Among the sociocultural factors considered, family cohesion and weekly hunting/fishing activities were associated with lower depression scores. Community cohesion and lower cultural identity (centrality scale) were associated with a lower likelihood of past-year and lifetime ideation while family cohesion was related to a lower likelihood of lifetime attempts. People with psychological distress (higher CES-D, suicidal ideation or attempts) were more likely to participate in healing and wellness activities. Conclusion: Although limited by their cross-sectional character, these analyses, based on the community component of the Qanuilirpitaa?, suggest that strengthening of family and community cohesion, and support of regular hunting and fishing deserve further attention as potential cumulative preventive avenues for Inuit mental health.
... 95% CI: [.641-.752]; Snowshoe et al., 2017). ...
... The results show that youths' cultural connectedness is significantly impacted by experiencing culturally engrained learning practices. The results are essential because cultural connectedness is believed to improve self-esteem for AI youths (Snowshoe et al., 2017). The youth participants also provided important perspectives about how they contextualize cultural connectedness. ...
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Abstract: In this Indigenous grounded, transformative sequential explanatory study, the author examines the influence an American Indian way of knowing educational paradigm had on cultural connectedness in a sample (n = 41) of American Indian youths attending a public school on a federally recognized Indian reservation. The author uses ethnographic writing to share his cultural journey with American Indian cultural immersion teachers. Participants completed a survey packet including a demographic form and, an adapted cultural connectedness survey. Results indicated that positive aspects of an American Indian way of knowing educational paradigm were associated with increased cultural connectedness (Spirituality, Identity, and Traditions) for American Indian youths. The author also sought to capture youth participants' perspectives to develop a deeper understanding of how they conceptualize cultural connectedness resulting in the identification of eleven culturally specific categories. These findings may help inform a broader development and application of an American Indian way of knowing instructional model that contributes to strengthening cultural identity in American Indian youths through culturally sustaining and revitalizing pedagogies. Keywords: American Indian, Indigenous methodologies, ethnography, cultural connectedness, transformative mixed methods.
... Indigenous peoples' perception of health and wellness is shaped by their worldview and traditional knowledge [43,44]. While the Western concept of health broadly defines health as the state of complete physical, mental, social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease [45], Indigenous peoples understand health in a holistic way [26] that seeks balance between the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of an Indigenous person in reciprocal relationships with their families, communities, the land, the environment, their ancestors, and future generations [46][47][48]. Unfortunately, this holistic concept of health and wellness opposes the individualistic and biomedically focused Western worldview of health, which is a dominant lens commonly used in health research, projects, and programs involving Indigenous communities [46]. ...
... While the Western concept of health broadly defines health as the state of complete physical, mental, social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease [45], Indigenous peoples understand health in a holistic way [26] that seeks balance between the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of an Indigenous person in reciprocal relationships with their families, communities, the land, the environment, their ancestors, and future generations [46][47][48]. Unfortunately, this holistic concept of health and wellness opposes the individualistic and biomedically focused Western worldview of health, which is a dominant lens commonly used in health research, projects, and programs involving Indigenous communities [46]. This practice further perpetuates the legacy of colonization and excludes avenues for Indigenous communities to access holistic healing practices "grounded in their culture" [43,49,50]. ...
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... 95% CI: [.641-.752]; Snowshoe et al., 2017). ...
... The results show that youths' cultural connectedness is significantly impacted by experiencing culturally engrained learning practices. The results are essential because cultural connectedness is believed to improve self-esteem for AI youths (Snowshoe et al., 2017). The youth participants also provided important perspectives about how they contextualize cultural connectedness. ...
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... A small body of research examines common factors that impact PYD for some Indigenous youth. This literature suggests the importance of strong cultural connectedness in promoting mental health and positive development among Indigenous youth [16,17]. Sanders and colleagues [18] found that receipt of PYD support services (e.g., services which enhance contextual and personal youth resources) were equally beneficial in terms of life satisfaction and education involvement for Māori, Pacific Islander, and Pakeha (non-Indigenous) youth, despite baseline group differences in risk and resilience. ...
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... Furthermore, that the initiatives, which offered numerous cultural activities specific to their culture, community, geography, and language, changed the way the youth felt about themselves, describing that afterwards they felt good with one student quote as saying "I do feel a change like I feel that my spirit is fed like with goodness" [58]. Snowshoe et al. [59] found that cultural connectedness including knowledge and association with identity, traditions and spiritual practices, was a positive contributor to mental wellbeing. ...
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