Trainee Series: Exploring Best Practices for FASD Within Indigenous Communities

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Written by Lakota Wood, member of the 2024 CanFASD Trainee Program. 

Learning Experiences Within the CanFASD Training Program 

Prior to joining the CanFASD training program, I had little experience within the field of FASD research. The CanFASD training program allowed me to gain further knowledge and awareness about FASD, specifically, FASD within an Indigenous context as stigmatization and stereotypical ideologies have likely contributed to the myth that FASD is over-represented within Indigenous communities.  As an Indigenous woman and researcher, I was interested in the ways Indigenous individuals with FASD and Indigenous communities are culturally supported. I will highlight some of the important concepts I learned throughout my time in the training program regarding FASD within Indigenous communities in Canada.  

It is important that healthcare and social service providers continue to recognize the unique cultural needs that Indigenous families may have. Providers should continue to collaborate with families and communities when it comes to developing holistic, culturally informed approaches to FASD. Holistic approaches focus primarily on the individual as a whole and work towards supporting spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional areas of wellness. 

Indigenous Practices and Approaches to FASD Prevention 

Within an Indigenous context, it is important for FASD prevention efforts to include supports and frameworks that acknowledge the ongoing impact of colonial systems of power on Indigenous histories and cultures in Canada. Incorporating Indigenous culture and ways of knowing through collaboration within FASD prevention efforts fosters positive outcomes, as well as awareness and prevention programs that are inclusive and effective. Within the historical and ongoing context of colonial impacts on Indigenous communities in Canada, it is important to consider approaches that are trauma-informed, strengths-based, and which address risk factors that may arise from the social determinants of health.   

Available resources on Indigenous approaches to FASD prevention include: 

The CanFASD training program provided a valuable FASD knowledge base and introduced me to a supportive community of FASD researchers. My experiences within the program motivate me to continue exploring FASD-related research. I look forward to further immersing myself within the field and continuing to support both Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals with FASD.  

Lakota Wood is an Indigenous Master’s student in the Counselling Psychology program at the University of Alberta. Previously, her research has focused on intercultural communication between Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups in Canada. Recently, she had the opportunity to work with research related to FASD. She has quickly become passionate about the topic. 

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