Aboriginal youth are facing a queue of challenges when moving
from rural communities to the city, and reserves need to do more to prepare
them, a study by the Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS) has found.
The 26-page report, titled Success in the City: Examining
Aboriginal Youth Moving from Rural to Urban Communities, got its information
from literature reviews and discussions with aboriginal people in rural and
urban communities throughout British Columbia. The report was released to the
public through NationTalk, a national newswire covering stories about First
Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Research for the study began when the VNHS noticed that
aboriginal youth were having trouble adjusting to city life.
Cole Rheaume, director of sales for NationTalk in B.C.,
coordinated the study for VNHS. “It was undertaken by Vancouver Native Health
because they had anecdotally understood… that there was youth that were finding
themselves perhaps getting into trouble and having a difficult time in the
transition,” he said.
Among several findings, the report states that factors such as
high unemployment, isolation and lack of educational or other opportunities are
driving youths from reserves and into cities. Other factors include a low
standard of living and abuse and neglect within families, according to the
report’s executive summary.
The report identified culture shock as one of the biggest challenges
that aboriginal youth experience when they move to the city.
Though the report has several recommendations for improvements
be made on reserves, it nevertheless says that those communities provide a
safety net for youth with factors such as housing, family, food and a sense of
The report reads that youth find themselves in a situation of
“cultural dislocation, loneliness and poverty” when moving to the city and that
some individuals are left “completely adrift.”
“Unable to integrate quickly, the individual feels isolated and
disconnected,” the report says. “This interferes with normal socializing, and
indeed many youth expressed difficultly integrating socially to their new
Consultations with youth found that their experiences in the
city were closely tied to the amount of exposure they had to urban areas. The
report notes that those who had little first-hand experience with the city had
their views shaped by verbal accounts and story-telling mixed with media
representations from television the Internet and print material.