Unreserved

Death and dying: how Indigenous communities grieve, survive and thrive

This week on Unreserved, we explore grief, death and dying in Indigenous communities, the circumstances that lead to the heavy losses they experience and how people are prioritizing the need for promotion of vibrant Indigenous life.
This week, experts who study, death with and support losses in Indigenous communities share their stories about how Indigenous communities grieve, survive and thrive. (Submitted by Jeffrey Ansloos, Submitted by Frances Elizabeth Moore, Clare Hennig/CBC)
Listen to the full episode42:00

Losing someone can be a great challenge in any community. But in Indigenous communities, many circumstances can make the grieving process especially difficult. 

This week on Unreserved, we explore grief, death and dying in Indigenous communities, the circumstances that lead to the heavy losses they experience and how people are prioritizing the need for promotion of vibrant Indigenous life.

Jeffrey Ansloos has studied how death and dying affects Indigenous communities. The Cree assistant professor at the University of Toronto talks about stigmas around sudden death and how media and politicians often oversimplify crises in remote Indigenous communities.

With major loss in his own family, Mason Buffalo turned to working in his hometown graveyard in Samson Cree Nation as a way of coping. Now, he wants to help his community grieve and heal the same way he did after four of his cousins died by suicide.

Doulas will guide you through birth, but what about death? Mike Kelly, an elder from the Shxw'Ow'Hamel First Nation in B.C., is a death doula — and one who guides many people through their last steps in life.

Last February, Inuk journalist Ossie Michelin wrote an op-ed for CBC Indigenous titled "The hardest part about being from a Northern Indigenous community is all the deaths." Nearly a year later, Michelin reflects on that story, why he wrote it, and how social media can make things both easier and more difficult for people who live far away from home. 

Part of the multi-pronged approach to prevent the higher frequencies of sudden deaths is fixing inequalities often found in remote communities. Frances Elizabeth Moore, the national outreach manager at We Matter, talks about how they're offering support to help.


If you or anyone you know is experiencing emotional distress and want to talk, you can call the toll-free Hope For Wellness line at 1-855-242-3310 or chat online at hopeforwellness.ca.

If you are seeking long-term help, information on resources for Indigenous people provided by the federal government are available here

If you want to help organizations who help Indigenous communities experiencing crises both survive and thrive, organizations like We Matter provide toolkits, resources and support to communities who need it. 

If you're looking for resources that you might use to help the promotion of vibrant Indigenous life in your community, visit the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation's Wise Practices website. 

This week's playlist: 
Kelly Fraser. (Submitted by Hitmakerz)

Black Belt Eagle Scout — Indians Never Die

Xiuhtezcatl feat. Jaden Smith — Boombox Warfare 

Kelly Fraser — Sedna