Kanesatake organization plans workshop to understand trauma

·3 min read

The Comprehensive Community Planning Department is offering a two-day trauma-informed training to community members next week.

The workshop is a continuation of the lateral violence and kindness training that began in 2019 when the grassroots group was formed. Moreover, throughout the pandemic, they continued to support community members by providing one-on-one healing sessions.

“When I agreed to champion this initiative, I saw that the community was not necessarily ready to start planning (for a better future in Kanesatake) when in fact, there was still a lot of trauma that was happening for many, many reasons,” said organizer Amanda Simon.

“We come from a very traumatic place after the events of 1990. And then throughout the pandemic, which certainly did not help us along. So, I said, ‘how can we plan if we have a whole community dealing with trauma?’ It needs to heal before we can properly plan.”

The two-day workshop will take place on June 29 and 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the United Church Hall.

The workshop will be facilitated by psychologist Suzie Goodleaf who has extensive experience dealing with trauma and healing, and consultant Linda Delormier from Tionhnhí:io Consulting. Both Goodleaf and Delormier are from Kahnawake.

“The objective of the training is basically to understand trauma because some people simply don’t know what it is. And it needs to be well-defined,” added Simon.

Goodleaf and Delormier will be tackling subjects like COVID-19, isolation and collective trauma, among others.

“Suzie will also be addressing the stage of re-entry and recovery. And then obviously the whole section of caring for the caregiver,” said the organizer.

“Examining your feelings and debriefing about trauma-informed approaches and then moving full circle back around on the second day to discuss what have we learned, and what have we gained.”

On the second day of the training, Kanehsata’kehró:non Wanda Gabriel – an assistant professor at McGill that specializes in historical trauma and trauma-informed practice, and her daughter, psychologist Pamela Gabriel-Ferland, will be on hand to lead a discussion circle with participants to provide as much support during the training as possible.

“I feel that becoming trauma aware is so important in this world we live in. It is filled with daily trauma, especially true during the last two years with COVID,” said Goodleaf.

“When we do not have an awareness, support and a process to express our feelings, they become repressed or stored and can make us ill on many levels. Our traditional practice was to gather regularly and share through ritual and ceremony. Not many of us follow this practice today for many reasons.”

Additionally, Goodleaf said that along with colonization, life’s fast pace has caused many to accumulate stress, aggravating already difficult situations.

“Multigenerational trauma means we carry the unresolved trauma of our ancestors in our hearts and on our backs. This pressure can cause us to feel angry, agitated, depressed, anxious and tired,” said the psychologist.

“Becoming aware of ourselves first can help our relationships, family and community. Awareness is the first step to healing. We need to know what we are carrying, and this can only happen in a safe environment.”

Fellow organizer Paige O’Brien said that the workshop can accommodate up to 20 community members. Snacks and lunch will be provided on both days, and door prizes will be given out to encourage participants to complete the whole training.

“I think this is a start. It’s a way to get your feet wet. We are going to hand out a list of people that are trained to deal with trauma. If you want to keep working on it. There are people at the Kanesatake Health Center and in Kahnawake and Akwesasne,” said O’Brien.

Simon said that they are already planning a second session in the fall, but that they want to give people time to process what they will be learning during the workshop.

To register, please contact simon.amanda@kanesatake.ca or obrien.paige@kanesatake.ca.


Marisela Amador, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door

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