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The cycle of violence

Colonization still showing its effects within Aboriginal communities

Understanding trauma within Aboriginal communities is a crucial step in working with those communities, said a registered social worker.

Barb Barclay, southern regional manager of the Native Counselling Services of Alberta, stated the act of colonization and residential schools played a huge part in shaping how Aboriginals interact with their environment today.

“Organizations, systems, and agencies need to understand where that’s coming from,” said Barclay, who gave a talk called Cycle of Violence at SAIT’s Chinook Lodge on Oct. 20.

“People heal in their own path and in their own journey,” she said.

“I think when we look at [colonization], even though it’s in the past, it’s still carried on into where we are now.” Barclay showed a documentary called Home Fire to shed light on the history of Canada and residential schools, which were put in place by the Canadian government to assimilate Aboriginal Peoples into the dominant culture.

Aboriginal children were taken from their homes and forced to live at those schools. The abuses inflicted upon the Aboriginal children carried on through intergenerational trauma, according to Barclay.

Rather than looking at colonization as something Aboriginals need to forget, Barclay suggested that allowing those communities to heal in their own time will yield better results.

“Trauma isn’t something you just get over,” said Barclay.

“It’s something you have to heal from.

“The important piece when working with individuals, is understanding the impacts of trauma.” Barclay went on to talk about education being a part of the healing process and that money is not the answer.

“You can’t keep throwing money at the ‘Indian problem,’” said Barclay.

“You have to understand what it is and move forward collectively.

“I think that in order to move things forward, we have to reclaim our voice, and that’s through education.” Angela Grier, coordinator of Chinook Lodge, was encouraged to see SAIT’s staff taking the initiative to learn more about violence and how it relates to Aboriginal communities.

“As a public institution we’re accountable to issues such as [violence within Aboriginal communities], and seeing how we can facilitate in the recoveries of these areas,” said Grier.

“The piece that I was hoping for our institution’s representatives to take away is to remember to engage in centres like [the Chinook Lodge].

“I’m grateful for everyone who’s come out from SAIT, and who made the effort to understand.”

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