Trigger warning: Readers may be triggered by the recount of Indian Residential Schools. To access a 24-hour National Crisis Line, call: 1-866-925-4419. Community Assistance Program (CAP) can be accessed by Anishinabek Nation member first nation citizens: 1-800-663-1142.


There are different types of trauma. Physical trauma is the result of a physical wound or injury. Psychological
trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that break a person’s sense of security and predictability, leaving one feeling helpless and vulnerable. It does not require a physical injury to be
considered traumatic. Survivors of the Indian Residential School system often experienced psychological trauma
and many report feeling alone, frightened, and overwhelmed.

Disclaimer: this is not a comprehensive list, trauma presents differently in everyone and is difficult
to define.

What are some causes of psychological trauma?

  • It happens unexpectedly
  • The person is unprepared for it
  • The person feels powerless to prevent it
  • It happens repeatedly
  • Someone was intentionally cruel
  • It happened in childhood

How does trauma happven?

  • A single, one-time event (i.e., car accident, unexpected loss, assault)
  • A prolonged or repeat experience (i.e., apprehension, abuse)
  • A cumulative effect (i.e., violence + abuse +racism/discrimination)
  • A historical event with prolonged impact (i.e., relocation)

Does trauma happen immediately?

It has the potential to have immediate effects but for some it can take weeks, months or years before the impacts of trauma are noticeable.

Are there long-term impacts to trauma?

Yes, there can be emotional, physical, mental, social, behaviourial and spiritual impacts.

What are the spiritual affects to trauma?

Persons may describe a lack of belief or faith in others, including a higher power.

What are the emotional impacts to trauma?

  • Feeling nervous, helpless, fearful, sad
  • Feeling shocked, numb and not able to feel love or joy
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Avoiding people, places and things related to the event
  • Being irritable or having outbursts of anger and aggressive behaviour
  • Becoming easily upset or agitated
  • Being withdrawn, feeling rejected or abandoned
  • Loss of intimacy or feeling detached
  • Feeling detached or unconcerned about others
  • Feeling jumpy and getting startled easily at sudden noises
  • Confusion
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours