Canada/North America: Shame Between Indigenous Nature-Connectedness, Colonialism and Cultural Disconnection

  • Barbara BuchEmail author


In this theoretical essay, it is examined, what role shame played in parts of past to present-day North American/Canadian society. A simplified shame-pride-continuum-model, related to Antonovsky’s health model, is used to reveal basic aspects of shame. Examples of shame in indigenous cultures as well as in European-colonialist-culture, with capitalism and churchly Christian belief system as major influences and consequences of the clashing of these cultures, including genocidal residential schools, are delineated. Furthermore, the occurrence of shame with possible causes within present-day North American society is exemplarily brought up. The implication of shame and its counterpart, pride, can reach from a social and cultural regulative, means of education, to a powerful political tool. It can be used as a health (survival) resource, but also misused for greedy interests: bringing people and cultures up or down. Shame is ambivalent in regards to potential positive or negative effects. Based on salutogenic considerations, including the developing of resources depending on reconnecting and outside intervention, shame as major stress factor has the potential to be overcome, leading to empowerment and possibly more health. However, the return to meaningful, supporting communities (e.g. in families) under the guidance of parents or elders, based on health-supporting, non-oppressing culture, values and structure is elementary to counteract present-day undermining influences growing from materialistic media and image-based destructive shame and pride.


Indigenous culture Shame and guilt North American/Canadian society Health-pride continuum Colonialism Salutogenesis 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for SalutogenesisBurns LakeCanada

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