Indigenous and non-Indigenous parents separated from their children and experiencing homelessness and mental illness in Canada

J Community Psychol. 2020 Nov;48(8):2753-2772. doi: 10.1002/jcop.22455. Epub 2020 Oct 8.

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the parent-child experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers and fathers experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and separation from their children. A qualitative thematic analysis of baseline and 18-month follow-up narrative interviews was used to compare 12 mothers (n = 8 Indigenous and n = 4 nonindigenous) with 24 fathers (n = 13 Indigenous and n = 11 non-Indigenous). First, it was found that children are more central in the lives of mothers than fathers. Second, Indigenous parents' narratives were characterized by interpersonal and systemic violence, racism and trauma, and cultural disconnection, but also more cultural healing resources. Third, an intersectional analysis showed that children were peripheral in the lives of non-Indigenous fathers, and most central to the identities of Indigenous mothers. Gender identity, Indigenous, and intersectional theories are used to interpret the findings. Implications for future theory, research, and culturally relevant intervention are discussed.

Keywords: family homelessness; homelessness; indigeneity; indigenous parents; intersectionality; mental illness; parent-child separation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Family Separation*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Homeless Persons / psychology
  • Humans
  • Indigenous Canadians / psychology
  • Indigenous Canadians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations / ethnology
  • Parents
  • Qualitative Research