From 1863 to 1996, many Aboriginal children in Canada were forced to attend Indian Residential Schools (IRSs), where many experienced neglect, abuse, and the trauma of separation from their families and culture. The present study examined the intergenerational impact of IRS exposure on depressive symptomatology in a convenience sample of 143 First Nations adults. IRS experiences had adverse intergenerational effects in that First Nations adults who had a parent attend IRS (n = 67) reported greater depressive symptoms compared to individuals whose parents did not attend (n = 76). Parental IRS attendance moderated the relations between stressor experiences (adverse childhood experiences, adult traumas, and perceived discrimination) and depressive symptoms, such that second generation Survivors exhibited greater symptomatology. Adverse childhood experiences partially mediated the relation between parental IRS attendance and both adult trauma and perceived discrimination. Moreover, both of these adulthood stressors partially mediated the relation between adverse childhood experiences and depressive symptoms. Finally, all three stressors demonstrated a unique mediating role in the relation between parental IRS attendance and depressive symptoms. Although alternative directional paths could not be ruled out, offspring of IRS Survivors appeared at increased risk for depression, likely owing to greater sensitivity to and experiences of childhood adversity, adult traumas, and perceived discrimination.

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Keywords Aboriginal, childhood experiences, depressive symptoms, discrimination, First Nations, Indian residential school, intergenerational transfer, stressor, trauma
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Journal Transcultural Psychiatry
Bombay, A. (Amy), Matheson, K, & Anisman, H. (2011). The impact of stressors on second generation Indian residential school survivors. Transcultural Psychiatry, 48(4), 367–391. doi:10.1177/1363461511410240