Commentary: Student Health and Well-Being in Indigenous Communities

“No One Is Healed Until Everyone Is Healed”

  • Maggie MacDonnell

Abstract

In this interview, Maggie MacDonnell, recipient of the 2017 Global Teacher Prize, discusses how growing up near a First Nations reserve in Nova Scotia opened her eyes to inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. She talks about the influence of Moses Coady, who instilled in her an appreciation for co-operative development, and T’hohahoken Michael Doxtater, an Indigenous scholar at McGill University, whose message, “No one is healed until everyone is healed,” she did not fully appreciate until she began working in the Inuit village of Salluit. She describes the life situation of the youth living in this kind of closed community where addiction and violence often become part of their everyday experience. Her interventions with this group of at-risk youth have helped decrease the school drop-out rate, improve students’ work and social skills, and raise awareness about suicide prevention. She concludes by giving advice to teachers who may be interested in working with students in remote communities.

Author Biography

Maggie MacDonnell

Maggie MacDonnell grew up in rural Nova Scotia and after completing her Bachelor’s degree, spent five years volunteering and working in sub-Saharan Africa, largely in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention. After completing her Master’s degree, she found her country was beginning to wake up to the decades of abuse that Canadian Indigenous people have lived through, including assaults on the environment and enormous economic and social inequality. As such, she sought out opportunities to learn more about this history, while teaching in an Indigenous community in Canada. For the last seven years she has been a teacher in a fly-in Inuit village called Salluit, nestled in the Canadian Arctic. This is home to the second northernmost Inuit community in Quebec, with a population of just over 1,400—it cannot be reached by road, only by air. In winter temperatures reach minus 50C. The region and the community have been gripped by a suicide crisis. At one point in this close-knit village, they lost 10 youth to suicide in a span of just two years.

Published
2017-07-05
How to Cite
MACDONNELL, Maggie. Commentary: Student Health and Well-Being in Indigenous Communities. LEARNing Landscapes, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 2, p. pp 29-36, july 2017. ISSN 1913-5688. Available at: <http://learninglandscapes.ca/index.php/learnland/article/view/798>. Date accessed: 21 july 2017.