FACING THE MOUNTAIN: Indigenous Healing in the Shadow of Colonialism

By: Catherine Richardson / Kinewesquao, PhD


Nowhere in the texts on counselling, recovery, or lifespan development does it make links between well-being and not having your land stolen. When an entire people are generally portrayed as mentally ill, because that is, of course, what it means to have a diagnosis of clinical depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, it is easy for the State to view these people as unfit to manage their lives. Then, all sorts of functions are performed on Indigenous families that are tantamount to victim-blaming formulations that, in the end, deny opportunities associated with full citizenship.

The author goes beyond offering social analysis, and possible pathways toward healing, and shares her own experience as an Indigenous woman with Metis, Cree and Gwichin heritage. She talks about her approach to a second cancer diagnosis, and explores the way she characterized her experience of chemotherapy and radiation in a way that cast the journey as personal and heroic, rather than merely medical and out of her control.

One of the main contributions of this book is a discussion of how mainstream counselling and the helping professions have overlooked important facts about oppression, including the reminder from Gloria Steinem that the personal is political.

If there is one take away from this book, it is the reality of health and social inequalities for Indigenous people due to colonization. This means Indigenous individuals and communities are more susceptible to covid. If you are, or want to be, a good ally, please keep following covid protocols… to avoid the spread of the virus into vulnerabilized Indigenous communities. We need to keep our people alive!!

  • ISBN: 978-1-926476-58-2
    Price: $33.00
    Binding: Paperback
    Date: 2021
    Rights: World
    Pages: 135
    Size: 6” x 9”

  • Table of Contents

    Mountain as Metaphor
    About the Books Cover Picture
    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1

    Chapter 2
    What Is Healing and From What Are We Needing to Heal

    Chapter 3
    A Journey of Healing From Cancer

    Chapter 4
    Identity as a Path for Healing

    Chapter 5
    Understanding and Supporting Couples

    Chapter 6
    The Heart of Indigenous Children, Communities and Islands of Safety

    Chapter 7
    Incorporating Rituals and Ceremonies in the Counselling Process

    Chapter 8
    Land Is Life

    Chapter 9
    Completing the Circle

    About the Author

    Table 1. Differences Between Response-Based and Effects-Based Formulations
    Table 2. Predominant Biases Found in the Domestic Violence Literature
    Picture 1. Cathy and Judy Richardson
    Picture 2. The Author

  • Catherine Richardson / Kinewesquao, PhD

    Catherine Richardson/Kinewesquao, PhD is a Métis scholar and current Director of First Peoples Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. She is a former Associate Professor at the Université de Montréal. Prior to moving to Montreal, Dr. Richardson spent seven years as a Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Victoria. In 2013, she was the Chair of the Indigenous Specializations Program. Dr. Richardson is a co-founder of the Centre for Response-Based Practice, an organization dedicated to helping people recover from violence. She is a family therapist and received her Ph.D. in the School of Child and Youth Care in Victoria, British Columbia. In addition to this edited book, Dr. Richardson has authored, Belonging Métis (2016) and co-edited Calling Our Families Home: Métis Peoples’ Experiences with Child Welfare (2017) and Speaking the Wisdom of Our Time (2020).

  • This important book provides a masterful overview of psycho-historiography of Indigenous communities and how the painful legacy of colonialist oppression and structural racism informs health and well-being and approaches to therapy and healing.

    Sharon Bond, PhD

    Associate professor
    Founding Director, M.Sc. (Applied) Couple and Family Therapy
    School of Social Work
    McGill University

    Facing the Mountain is a gift of vital stories and ceremony for social workers, human service professionals, counsellors, and those in frontline helping roles who seek to reclaim Indigenous world making and land relations. This book calls upon us to reject systems that criminalize, punish, pathologize and overmedicate Indigenous people. To this end, Dr. Richardson (Kinewesquao) takes us on a journey well beyond the normative colonial lens of mainstream human services. Readers will be deeply moved by her personal story of cancers and surgeries, her family’s exposure to environmental contamination, and her ethics of resistance and resurgence. The mountain metaphor is healing medicine for professionals and families grappling with systems founded on Indigenous genocide. This deeply intimate, vibrant book offers a resoundingly ceremonial vision of accountability to undo colonial violence in health and social services.

    Sandrina de Finney, PhD

    Faculty of Human and Social Development
    University of Victoria
    Research lead, Kinship Rising: Honouring Indigenous Gender Wellbeing

    An intimate, inspiring and validating celebration of Indigeneity, layered with rich metaphor and traditional ritual – an absolute must read for health and social service practitioners. Ka mau te wehi – congratulations!

    Ngāpuhi Ngāti Paoa

    Psychotherapist Aotearoa'

    This writing evokes rage, grief, profound humility and great connection and revolutionary love. Facing the Mountain is a profound offering of connective tissue between the systemic colonial violence of on-going genocide and Cathy's unapologetic calls for more just responses in all of our domains of living. Cathy's writing shoulders me up as a white settler to stay implicated in the privileges white supremacy and colonisation make invisible. The social poetic alive in these words offers a desperately required and essential believed-in-hope.

    Vikki Reynolds PhD RCC

    Consultant, Instructor, Supervisor