This is part 2 of the key learning that I took away from the Culture Camp for First Nations, Metis and Inuit.
What I am about to share is something I feel every Canadian should be schooled on and it is not a comfortable subject to discuss. I was totally oblivious to many of the atrocities that occurred in our country towards First Nations, Metis and Inuit and their culture. Imagine for a moment, being told that you could no longer speak your language, practice your spiritual beliefs or stay with your parents. This is what happened with residential schools. If parents did not agree to this, they would be thrown in jail. Many of the young children who were taken away also ended up being abused physically, sexually, emotionally and mentally. So what this ends up creating is intergenerational trauma. Epigenetics has proven that memories get passed down from one generation to the next. Since these children did not learn their sacred teachings through ceremony and ritual, it affected their ability to have good parenting skills, which in turn impacted their children even after the residential schools were shut down. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooRnIny8EFo
For trauma, Kerrie Moore stated that counsellors cannot start with cognitive therapy, because when one is traumatized, they are stuck in the mid-brain where fight/flight or freeze is located. Flight is linked to Anger, Flee to Anxiety and Freeze to Depression. In this space, one needs to embrace their feelings and spirituality before they can move into the pre-frontal cortex which is where the ability to think clearly resides. This trauma is definitely linked to the higher suicide rates as well as the higher rates of committing crimes amongst indigenous youth. I recently heard a singer who was a retired teacher and he said, “No matter what, you should never give up on a child.”
On a positive note, I am really grateful to the Impact Society for the work that they are doing to be proactive instead of reactive to the situation. They are helping to build core character traits as well as embrace spirituality to improve mental health and create everyday Heroes. I had the pleasure of hearing Gerald Auger speak at a recent conference and he is a real beacon of light. http://impactsociety.com/indigenous-impact/
We also did The Blanket Exercise which again was eye-opening for me. I had always heard that white man had brought TB and Chicken Pox to the Indigenous populations. I was not aware however that blankets used in trade were knowingly infected with Chicken Pox and TB. This is just the tip of the iceberg for what I learned. https://www.kairosblanketexercise.org/ The ATA also has a website for workshop information on doing this exercise. https://www.teachers.ab.ca/For%20Members/Professional%20Development/Workshops/First%20Nations/Pages/The-Blanket-Exercise.aspx
I highly recommend participating in a blanket exercise to fully experience it. It is through education that all of us can heal together. In the end we all are one, and we need to be acting from this knowledge.
Each of us can make a difference. Will you?