I took extensive notes.
Christine Lowe opened things up by saying that in healthy communities we acknowledge the harm that comes to victims of violence, and that victimes need to be helped with their physical, spiritual and emotional well being. Strong relationships make social justice possible.
She made a joke about the podium. When they were finalizing planning they realized they had no podium, and they had no money to buy or rent one. So they called the police. The Victoria PD supplied the podium.
This donation by the police meant that we were looking at their logo the entire time, but it also meant that it was a place where cops and SJWs could work together, and that made me happy.
There was a territorial acknowledgement, and Elder May made a blessing that set the tone for the day. A little rambling, heart-piercingly beautiful, compassionate. When she sang I started weeping. The contrast of her speaking voice and her singing voice was so acute it made me sit up. Her song was wordless and filled with yearning for justice and peace.
Then the Deputy Minister for Justiceland Wanamaker got up and gave a canned f*cking empty speech with about as much inflection and heart as one gets from a Grade 7 kid giving her first address. As a libertarian-inflected feminist, I was enraged to the point I nearly booed when she tried to make political hay out of taking 5 million dollars from civil forfeiture – forgot we had that in Canada, right? right? and earmarking it for prevention of violence against women. Really don’t like that. I could go on at great length about why I was pissed, but instead I stink eyed her until she left. She may be a king hell accomplished career bureaucrat, and we should be thankful that somebody of her dignity spoke to us, but I came away wanting to coach her on public speaking and liberty both. Please don’t think that the 8 Domestic Violence Units which have been set up across BC with the money are bad things. I don’t. One thing I will credit her with is saying ‘all genders’; this is phrasing I wish more politicians would adopt, since it doesn’t other trans* and intersex people, or people who are distinctly possessing identifiable bits but are not gender normative, and it includes two-spirited.
Frank Elsner. Chief of Police in Victoria since January 2014. Man, I wish, you have NO IDEA HOW I WISH, that brO could have been in the auditorium when he spoke. He worked the room, greeting and speaking with many, many people. Fine, a cop can have good social skills, in fact let’s hope she does. As he was introduced, it was obvious that he is highly intelligent and has multiple degrees from real universities. He’s been chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which means he’s been exposed to best (and worst) practices across the planet, and let’s face it the last decade has seen some impressive advances in community policing.
He said, “Why talk about community health in terms of policing?” Essentially good policing is part of what makes a healthy community. As a cop he was appalled to arrest three generations of criminals. The boys weren’t born bad; intervention and options are required to turn lives around.
He mandated a different approach to street prostitution. Instead of throwing them in the jug, a group of women were streamed toward social workers. Picture their astonishment when the first problem most of them had was that they had no picture ID. Childcare, job training and housing were also issues. Address them, and women can get off the street. He made it sound simple, but the key is collaboration among a large group of people across half a dozen Ministries and social agencies. When you get seven women out of the life, you are reducing human suffering in them, their children and their grandchildren, is the point.
Then he said the thing that would have made brO happiest. He said the police must be accountable to the people they serve for everything they do, even when it hurts the police institutionally and personally. The reactive model of policing is no longer tenable; police have to earn and show respect in the community they serve.
He also mentioned that cops need to be better educated and trained (yay, maybe that one dingus will finally learn how to give evidence in traffic court) and that their own mental health MUST be factored into the equation; police need like all people to be treated with respect for the sad duties they take on, on behalf of all of us, and that if we just keep expecting cops to suck it up they will snap. So he wants to look after the well being of the people in his department and not just expect them to stand tall and be stoic.
My applause at the end of his talk was very genuinely enthusiastic, as was Paul’s.
Then Dr. Martin Broken Leg got up.
1. Dude’s funny.
2. Dude’s a survivor.
3. Dude’s hella smart.
With effortless humour, fluency, clarity and logic, he walked us through what it’s like to live in Aboriginal culture, both sides of the border (he is Lakota, adopted into the Raven clan on Haida Gwaii and man you shoulda seen his button decorated black vest with the most beeeyootiful appliquéd silver raven on the back, I admired it in person.)
One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Indian kids went to residential schools until 94 when the last one closed. Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Indian kids have gone into care since the mid fifties.
The ACE studies (Adverse Childhood Experiences) can provide some light.
If a child is exposed to addictions, abuse, domestic violence, incarceration and neglect, you will get social impairment, health risks, disease, disability and early death.
There are other sources of trauma to FN kids. Federal laws, provincial policies, residential schools, the institutions of the churches, poverty, sub standard housing, poor nutrition and lack of healthy practices, lower opportunities for education and employment.
Oppression comes in many forms. Social microaggressions, the way people look at you and talk to you and make assumptions about you. Systems don’t make place for you and your cultural folkways. The professional people who are supposed to help you don’t necessarily respect you and don’t expect you to improve; and then of course there’s internalized racism and the numbness that comes when you realize that you’re worthless; you don’t need to see 1200 missing women on tv to realize that there’s not a lot of respect for FN women, let alone men.
He recommended Rupert Ross’s Criminal Conduct and Colonialization and Dr. Paulette Regan’s Unsettling the Settler Within.
Traumatized people show it. They show it by abusing their children, committing suicide, legal trouble and incarceration, early death, violence and addictions.
If you’re working with traumatized people the question to ask is not What’s Wrong with You!? it’s What Happened to You?
In 2012 the Gladue decision brought into sentencing the ability of the judge to inquire as to childhood trauma before jail time.
Subsequently a 19 year old aboriginal man was arrested for assaulting (I remember this story) a Coast Mountain bus driver. At sentencing it was learned that he had been in 28 foster homes between 4 and 18. He didn’t get jail time, he got counselling, and the howls from white people who said BUT HE ISN’T BEING PUNISHED were very loud. And pointless. Jail wouldn’t help.
FN people need to:
See your own and your inherited pain (he called it the dark shadow that lies across every aspect of aboriginal life.)
Know and express your own suffering.
Self-critique and move toward self-improvement (away from victimhood toward self-actualization)
Reclaim aboriginal spirtuality, community and culture ESPECIALLY LANGUAGE (my comment because it is a road map back to the way the land spoke to your ancestors.)
Non-aboriginal people need to work on:
Self-reflection, to lose their white innocence (I had no idea FN children were experimented on, I had no idea that three percent of the residential school kids never came home, I had no idea that the Indian Act didn’t let FN women vote until the 1960s.)
Accept the historical violence, from the Beothuk to Akwesasne.
Admit the full equality of Aboriginal people and ways. That’s the tough one. We’ve been acculturated to believe that European ways are superior, and it ain’t necessarily so.
Remember that the 1948 UN definition of genocide COVERS THE SITUATION OF THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS.
Broken Leg then talked about the four stages of forgiveness, as outlined in Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving, which he wrote with his daughter Mpho.
- Let us tell the truth. Speak the truth, unvarnished, the facts. Tell trusted people, accepting that the past will not be changed.
- Name the hurt. Accept all feelings as valid and connect those feelings to the facts. Use Kubler-Ross’s grief work. Be vulnerable and be willing to be hurt, because you will be.
- Grant forgiveness by choosing to forgive. Grow by forgiveness. Move to the place of being a survivor hero, not a victim.
- Change your story. Tell a new story to heal. Renew or release the relationship that has marked you. Ask for what you need. Look at your role, not to blame yourself, but with calmness.
Young people, to be resilient, must be valued enough by their culture to be taught
Then I went to a breakout session on suicide prevention in young people “This do in memory of me” for Kaitlin Schmidt, whose plaque we put up in the Gazebo of Remembrance on Thursday night.
Almost 4000 people kill themselves in Canada every year. A lot of them are young people. Accidents involving brain injury, suicide and cancer are one two three for cause of death in folks under 25.
It’s okay to ask somebody if they are thinking of harming themselves or killing themselves, but there is a big but.
You have to say that you have seen a change in behaviour first. This marks you as somebody observant and caring. If they are suicidal but deny it you have marked yourself as a safe person to talk to later. (I find it unlikely that I will ever be that blue again but I know EXACTLY who among my friends I can go to, and that in itself is wonderful.) If they aren’t suicidal they can explain why they’ve been wearing nothing but sweat pants for two weeks and are giving away all their stuff.
Since kids have smart phones, there’s been a lot of work on apps that help kids manage their moods. Links below.
I found it very interesting that the presenter, Renata Hindle, said that in two hundred 80 minute presentations in BC to Grade 8 and Grade 10 kids, precisely one class wouldn’t go with the guided meditation, and that dozens of kids have told her they wished they knew about it earlier. Funnily enough, we teach meditation at a number of points in the UU religious education curriculum. Cause we be all about raising resilient kids yo.
Then there was a very challenging talk on male survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Men process sexual trauma differently than women.
Gender role conditioning to not seek help, to suck it up, to be tough and stoic, mean that help is not sought and the trauma plays out in all aspects of the survivor’s life.
They don’t have the social permission of women to ask for help, to admit to needing it.
When they do seek help, there is a deluge of stuffed-down emotions which occurs at the commencement of the counselling.
Societal and internalized homophobia (offenders normally being men) can cloud the survivor’s ability to see their own victimization. Womanizing is often a consequence of childhood sexual abuse.
Often, they can fear that they will prey on children (this was brilliantly depicted, as an aside, as part of Bunchy’s story in Showtime’s Ray Donovan.)
Something that never occurred to me was that as boys arrive at puberty, they have the ability to be physically aroused by damned near anything. This is used by perps to show to the boy that he ‘must have enjoyed it.’ ew ew ew.
5 – 6% of boys who’ve been molested go on to offend.
BUT 95% of offenders were abused.
Those are horrible statistics. And we’re doing a shitty job as a culture of helping men who’ve been sexually abused as children. I am going to investigate the group helping men here in town.
As an aside, she said that male survivors are very likely to espouse conspiracy theories, because their essential feeling of safety has been destroyed. They have seen the shadowy forces of evil and want everybody to be as frightened as they once were.
This made me realize that someone close to me is probably a survivor. I have had to come to a personal adjustment of my thinking patterns.
Sobriety is virtually impossible for survivors who haven’t had counselling for the trauma.
Survivors get in fights, they are medicated heavily, many have difficulty keeping sober and binge or drink steadily, they dress in a fashion that tells people ‘KEEP THE **** AWAY FROM ME”, they don’t come to family events and cause scenes or sit in the corner and drink, and they are job avoidant or can’t keep a job due to ongoing issues with disrespect and authority.
I didn’t take notes.
Reena Virk’s parents made a presentation about what it was like, and how the reconciliation with one of their daughter’s killers went.
I cried a lot.
Then they started talking about the Bible, which was less moving, and Paul and I anthem sprinted to the ferry, where we made the 5 o’clock. There was a circular rainbow in Active Pass, and I saw a fur seal.