Appreciating First Nations
Is natural and right
I have had the privilege of working with
First Nations people for the last 14 years. I want to acknowledge and
thank my Nuu-chah-nulth teachers Barney Williams Jr. and Louise Tatoosh, my
Hieltsuk teacher Mitch Vicars, and the many others who have shared their
knowledge and their way of being here. Thank you for these gentle lessons
that have deepened my understanding and made my way easier and better.
Here are some of the things that I have learned to appreciate in the last 14 years, that are special to First Nations people.
Waiting until someone is ready
Welcoming and being welcomed to a family or a community
People being appreciated more than projects or plans
Taking the time to be right with something before moving on past it
Honoring a person's right to make their own decisions and live their life the way they choose
Recognizing that someone's presence can be healing
Acknowledging a person's family, roles, responsibilities, strengths, and special gifts
Funny stories that come from caring and paying attention to someone
Honoring elders and looking after them
These are important things I find are just
naturally there in healthy First Nations families and communities.
I believe that the residential school process was ignorant of these treasures, and unwittingly or otherwise did not support them, foster them, or protect them and the First Nations languages that help people to live in these good ways. And of course some of those responsible for the residential schools did much worse than this to many individuals, to families and to communities.
As someone who has worked with Nuu-chah-nulth Mental Health for years, I saw the wonderful results of Louise Tatoosh bringing Somatic Experience (SE) training to Nuu-chah-nulth workers and communities. She decided to ask the trainers to work with her to develop a version of SE that honored Nuu-chah-nulth traditions. The result has been healthy change that is easy to see for workers, for clients, and now the reversal of the residential school legacy is being felt in communities as well.
I have worked for more than 10 years with abusers, but I decided to develop skills for working with victims as well. I looked carefully at three ways to deepen my own skills: Somatic Experience, Emotionally-Focused Therapy, and EMDR. All of these newer therapies work quickly and effectively for victims of trauma. I chose EMDR because it is a better fit for me personally, and I believe it to be less demanding on the client and the therapist.
I think that the SE practiced by Nuu-chah-nulth Mental Health counselors and other workers in the communities is a wonderful way to support First Nations health. Especially the SE Resourcing brings support to individual people, but also to the person's appreciation of their family, community and traditions that the person is a part of. With any treatment process, there will be some people that do not relate to the process for some reason. I think that if a person has tried SE and it wasn't the right fit for them personally, then EMDR is a good alternative. Certainly the way I practice EMDR also honors and appreciates the natural healthiness of a traditional Nuu-chah-nulth life style. EMDR allows a person to make their own relationship to their history and their community in a way that works best for them.