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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Ashley Reynolds, Psychology

A Multimethod Approach to Resilience against Alcohol Use, Depression, and Suicide Among Indigenous Youth in a Northern Quebec Community

Date & time
Thursday, July 18, 2024
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Nadeem Butt


Psychology Building
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Room 244

Wheel chair accessible


When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


Colonization, historical loss and intergenerational trauma have given rise to mental health disparities among Indigenous communities. For over 100 years, assimilation policies have directly targeted Indigenous youth. While many Indigenous youth have thrived despite the experience of intergenerational trauma and ongoing colonization, problems with alcohol use, depression, and suicide risk continue to be reported. Yet, little research has looked at the temporal sequence of these mental health problems among Indigenous youth. In turn, interventions have often been based off of research among non-Indigenous youth, which have been limited at best. In turn, there is a need to return to Indigenous ways of knowing in order to promote the well-being of Indigenous youth. Using quantitative (Study 1) and qualitative (Study 2) studies, the goal of this dissertation was to develop a community-specific model of alcohol use, depressive symptoms, and suicide resilience among Indigenous youth in one Northern Quebec community. Study 1 (N=110) utilized a longitudinal design to examine change in alcohol use and negative affect (a symptoms of depression) and reciprocal associations in a sample of Indigenous youth. Results demonstrated that when an Indigenous adolescent drank more alcohol than expected at one wave assessment, they reported higher levels of negative affect than expected at the following assessment. This may suggest that drinking alcohol precedes negative affect. Study 2 (N=14) utilized semi-structured interviews with community members to understand alcohol and suicide resilience from an Indigenous perspective. Through the voices of Indigenous people in the community, colonization was identified as the primary problem that led to alcohol use and suicide risk. Complementary to Study 1, most of the participants highlighted that drinking alcohol precedes suicidal ideations and behaviours. Connecting as a community and returning to living off of the land is where the participants believed recovery would be found. Taken together, both studies shed light on understanding alcohol use, negative affect and suicidality rooted in systemic factors and a continued call for supporting Indigenous peoples in revitalizing their cultures.

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