Trauma, healing and learning in the Canadian postsecondary institution

Dan Cantiller
28 min readApr 29, 2021
A hand reaching out from a laptop screen, in front of a multicolour background
Image credit: Getty

Updated April 29, 2021

Abstract
Students, faculty and staff who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) experience unique challenges learning and working within Canadian postsecondary institutions. Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, and with ongoing incidents of racial and political unrest, awareness about trauma impacting postsecondary communities is increasing. With prior North American research already indicating a high level of prevalence of historic trauma that many students bring with them as they enter postsecondary institutions, and the high likelihood that students will also experience some form of trauma during their postsecondary experience, it behooves educators and Student Affairs professionals to become more aware of how trauma-informed practices can support students, improving their student academic learning and engagement. Suggestions for how to incorporate such practices into Canadian postsecondary environments will also be described in this paper.
Keywords: trauma, trauma-informed practice, postsecondary education, pedagogy, Student Affairs, BIPOC

Land Acknowledgements
Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) is situated on the ancestral homelands of the Beothuk, and Newfoundland is also the homeland of the Mi’kmaq. MUN has as part of its mission a special obligation to honour and support these Indigenous Nations as well as the Inuit of Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut, and Innu of Nitassinan, the original people of Labrador (Memorial University of Newfoundland, n.d.).

In my time as a graduate student at MUN, I have completed my studies remotely from Toronto, Ontario. Toronto is in Treaty 13 territory that is also covered by the Dish With One Spoon wampum agreement between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas, and Haudenosaunee, binding them to protect the land (Aboriginal Education Council, n.d.). I also acknowledge this land as the homeland of the Chippewa and Wendat (City of Toronto, 2021). I acknowledge my responsibility as an immigrant and settler to this land to honour the rich histories and resilience of these Indigenous Nations, as well as the diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples who make their…

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Dan Cantiller

Student Affairs professional working in Canadian higher education. Recent Master of Education graduate. Queer. Baritone. Toronto is home. (he/him)