Abstract

Gaining an understanding of how best to support the development of Aboriginal children is important in promoting positive social, emotional, educational, and health outcomes. The purpose of the current study was to identify the most important elements of healthy development for Aboriginal children, with a particular focus on social-emotional development. Focus groups were conducted with 37 Aboriginal Canadians, including parents, service providers, adolescents, and young adults. Five inter-connected themes emerged: cultural wellness, emotional wellness, mental wellness, social wellness, and strong identity, with strong identity described as central and foundational to the other themes. This study strengthens the assertion that Aboriginal children require an additional set of social-emotional skills to successfully navigate different cultural contexts during development. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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