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Cultural Connectedness and Its Relation to Mental Wellness for First Nations Youth


We explored the interrelationships among components of cultural connectedness (i.e., identity, traditions, and spirituality) and First Nations youth mental health using a brief version of the original Cultural Connectedness Scale. Participants included 290 First Nations youth (M age = 14.4) who were recruited from both urban and rural school settings in Saskatchewan and Southwestern Ontario. We performed a confirmatory factor analysis of the Cultural Connectedness Scale-Short Version (CCS-S) items to investigate the factor stability of the construct in our sample. We examined the relationships between the CCS-S subscales and self-efficacy, sense of self (present and future), school connectedness, and life satisfaction using hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses to establish the validity of the abbreviated measure. The results revealed that cultural connectedness, as measured by the 10-item CCS-S, had strong associations with the mental health indicators assessed and, in some cases, was associated with First Nations youth mental health above and beyond other social determinants of health. Our results extend findings from previous research on cultural connectedness by elucidating the meaning of its components and demonstrate the importance of culture for positive youth development.

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  1. We use the term First Nations (FN) throughout the manuscript to reflect our Canadian context. We rely on American findings where appropriate due to the absence of previous cultural connectedness studies within a Canadian context.

  2. The “Sixties Scoop” refers to the Canadian practice, beginning in the 1960 s and continuing until the late 1980s, of forcibly removing (“scooping up”) First Nations children from their families and placing them in foster homes or for adoption.

  3. All youth appearing on the school board’s FN, Métis, and Inuit student self-identification system and youth participating in The Fourth R: Uniting Our Nations programs were asked to participate in the study [see Crooks et al. (2015) for more information on FN programming].

  4. Since scale score reliabilities are often artificially deflated by a narrow range of items comprising a scale, we recommend that the full scale CCS-S be used for research purposes. Researchers interested in specific components of cultural connectedness may elect to use the original CCS (Snowshoe et al., 2015).

  5. The reversed item on the scale was removed in the Snowshoe et al. (2015) study due to its negative impact on internal consistency with a FN youth sample. As such, we emulated this approach by administering the more reliable, shortened version of the scale in our study.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Ibid.


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This research is part of a larger program evaluation of The Fourth R: Uniting Our Nations program conducted at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)–Centre for Prevention Science (CPS) funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. We wish to acknowledge our First Nations communities and our research partners for participating in this research. This article is humbly offered in support of First Nations youth, their families, and their communities in Canada and beyond as they strive to re-connect with their culture.


Our study was part of a larger research initiative funded by Public Health Agency of Canada (Grant Number: 6785-15-2010/3381071 to Dr. Claire Crooks).

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Correspondence to Angela Snowshoe.

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Snowshoe, A., Crooks, C.V., Tremblay, P.F. et al. Cultural Connectedness and Its Relation to Mental Wellness for First Nations Youth. J Primary Prevent 38, 67–86 (2017).

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  • First Nations
  • Youth
  • Cultural connectedness
  • Mental health
  • Assessment
  • Resilience