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Mental health, climate change, and bushfires: What’s colonization got to do with it?

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing

20 Aug 2021

Upward., K, Usher., K, Maple., M & Saunders., V.


Climate change research has been dominated by studies from the physical and biological sciences that aim to predict and measure the effects and determine actions and strategies for the future. More recently, greater attention has been given to other forms of impact including the social and emotional effects of climate change (Usher et al. 2019). According to Betasamosake-Simpson (2021), climate change is just one part of a longer series of ecological catastrophes caused by colonialism and accumulation-based society. Whyte (2017) suggests that the history of climate change and colonialism is synonymous. Colonization is the result of settler domination, which occurs when one society permanently inhabits a place where one or more societies already exist. As a result, the settlers inflict anti-adaptation on Indigenous peoples. Colonial-induced environmental changes have impacted the ecological systems that supported Indigenous peoples’ cultures, health, economies, and self-determination. Many of these changes occurred so fast that Indigenous peoples became vulnerable to issues such as health problems resulting from new diets and erosion of culture due to colonialism (Whyte 2017)...

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