Knowledge Resources & Publications

ISBN (Print) : 978-1-77368-175-7 | ISBN (Online) : 978-1-77368-176-4

Exploring socially-responsive approaches to children’s rehabilitation with Indigenous communities, families and children

March 2018

Indigenous children are often denied timely access to critical healthcare and social services that are available to other Canadian children. This is primarily due to chronic underfunding and jurisdictional disputes and confusion over the funding of services. To ensure that Indigenous children have equitable opportunities, developmental and health trajectories, and quality of life and well-being across their life course as non-Indigenous children do, a critical examination of Indigenous children’s rehabilitation is needed.

This paper, authored by Alison Gerlach, PhD, summarizes knowledge about rehabilitation for Indigenous children with developmental challenges, disabilities, and complex health conditions. It explores the relevancy of the concepts of ‘disability’ and ‘rehabilitation’ within the settler-colonial context of Canada, highlights emerging themes in the literature on rehabilitation with Indigenous children in Canada, and identifies current gaps in knowledge and areas for future research. The paper argues that in order for children’s rehabilitation to be responsive to the lived realities of Indigenous communities and families, service delivery models, policies and practices must be informed by an understanding of dis/ability in relation to the multifaceted, historical, and ongoing effects of colonization. This requires a radical shift in service delivery grounded in Indigenous self-determination and human rights.


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