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“Hope for change—change can happen” : healing the wounds family violence with Indigenous traditional… Lester-Smith, Donna Michele 2012

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“Hope For Change—Change Can Happen”: Healing the Wounds Family Violence with Indigenous Traditional Wholistic Practices by Donna Michele Lester-Smith Honours B.A., Okanagan College University, 2005 M.A., The University of British Columbia – Okanagan, 2008 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Cross-Faculty Inquiry in Education) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) October, 2012 © Donna Michele Lester-Smith, 2012  Abstract Today, a great deal of social services, health and education research funding is being channeled into studies on how to combat the myriad social issues—such as domestic violence, substance abuse, poverty, homelessness, suicide, homicide and incarceration— that have afflicted Aboriginal communities for eight generations. What has since been overlooked is that many of these research projects and the programs they give rise to, well meaning as they are, ultimately prove ineffective as they discount the cultural background of the people they seek to help. Intensive analysis focuses on a community program called Warriors Against Violence Society (WAVS), one of Vancouver’s few Aboriginal health organizations that runs based on Indigenous rather than Western methods of intervention for its Aboriginal members. This Indigenous Collaborative Research (ICR) framework investigates how culturally-based healing practices provide a more comprehensive and thus more effective method to assist members struggling with family violence. An Indigenous Knowledge-based intervention model for dealing with perceptions and experiences of family violence both intergenerational and contemporary emerges from transcribed conversations with 22 people, including cofounders, co-facilitators and members, amounting to approximately 600 pages of single-spaced text. Cultural practices involving storytelling, smudging, potlatches, honouring ceremonies, youth groups, Elder wisdom, natural environment and parent-to-child transference of culture signify aspects of tradition integral to Aboriginal health: all suppressed during the era of Canada’s enforced Residential School System, resulting in the disintegration of communities whose way of life was thrown off balance by colonization. When Western interventions fail to restore this balance it is worth investigating how a return to such Indigenous cultural and health practices can offer us better solutions to restore people suffering from family violence, drug addiction, poverty and homelessness, trouble with the law and traumatic memories. Key to the WAVS intervention model is that it acknowledges multiple aspects of well-being (spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual) and deals with all the factors within the history of a person, family, and/or community, which have had an impact on current health issues. Ultimately, ten emergent themes are revealed under the three categories of Total Person, Total Health and Total Environment.  ii  Preface This work is approved by:  The University of British Columbia Behavioral Research Ethics Board  Certificate number: H10-02458 November 24, 2010  iii  Table Of Contents Abstract	
  ................................................................................................................................	
  ii	
   Preface	
  .................................................................................................................................	
  iii	
   Table	
  Of	
  Contents	
  .............................................................................................................	
  iv	
   List	
  Of	
  Figures	
  ..................................................................................................................	
  vii	
   Acknowledgements	
  ......................................................................................................	
  viii	
   Chapter	
  1:	
  	
  Study	
  Overview	
  ...........................................................................................	
  1	
   1.1	
   Context	
  ................................................................................................................................	
  2	
   1.2	
  	
   Purpose	
  ..............................................................................................................................	
  4	
   1.3	
  	
   Personal	
  Relevance	
  ........................................................................................................	
  8	
   1.4	
   Warriors	
  Against	
  Violence	
  Society	
  ..........................................................................	
  10	
   1.5	
   Background	
  Information	
  ............................................................................................	
  11	
   1.6	
   Research	
  Questions	
  ......................................................................................................	
  11	
   1.7	
   Relational	
  Ethics	
  ............................................................................................................	
  12	
   1.8	
   Sequence	
  ...........................................................................................................................	
  16	
   1.9	
   Writing	
  on	
  Behalf	
  of	
  Participants	
  .............................................................................	
  18	
   1.10	
   Closing	
  Discussion	
  ......................................................................................................	
  19	
    Chapter	
  2:	
  Indigenous	
  And	
  Western	
  Theoretical	
  Systems	
  ...............................	
  21	
   2.1	
  	
   Context	
  .............................................................................................................................	
  21	
   2.2	
  	
   The	
  Grandmothers	
  Are	
  With	
  Us	
  ...............................................................................	
  25	
   2.3	
  	
   An	
  Overview	
  of	
  Indigenous	
  and	
  Western	
  Philosophical	
  Worldviews	
  ........	
  27	
   2.4	
  	
   Indigenous	
  Knowledge	
  Systems	
  ..............................................................................	
  29	
   2.4.1	
  	
  	
  	
  A	
  Māori	
  Example	
  of	
  Indigenous	
  Relational	
  Theory	
  and	
  Practice	
  .......................	
  31	
   2.4.2	
  	
  	
  	
  My	
  Work	
  as	
  Similar	
  to	
  the	
  Māori	
  Example	
  ...................................................................	
  33	
   2.5	
  	
   The	
  WAVS	
  Philosophy	
  .................................................................................................	
  36	
   2.6	
  	
   Western	
  Knowledge	
  And	
  Health	
  ..............................................................................	
  43	
   2.7	
  	
   Healing	
  Ways	
  Of	
  Being	
  Among	
  Urban	
  Aboriginal	
  Families	
  ............................	
  46	
   2.8	
  	
   Participatory	
  Healing	
  At	
  WAVS	
  ................................................................................	
  53	
   2.8.1	
  	
  	
  	
  Self	
  as	
  our	
  Sacred-­‐Centre	
  .....................................................................................................	
  60	
   2.8.2	
  	
  	
  	
  The	
  East	
  Dimension	
  ................................................................................................................	
  61	
   2.8.3	
  	
  	
  The	
  South	
  Dimension	
  ..............................................................................................................	
  62	
   2.8.4	
  	
  	
  	
  The	
  West	
  Dimension	
  ..............................................................................................................	
  62	
    iv  2.8.5	
  	
  	
  	
  The	
  North	
  Dimension	
  .............................................................................................................	
  62	
   2.9	
  	
   Closing	
  Discussion	
  ........................................................................................................	
  63	
    Chapter	
  3:	
  Methodology	
  ...............................................................................................	
  65	
   3.1	
  	
   Context	
  .............................................................................................................................	
  65	
   3.2	
   Indigenous	
  Methodological	
  Perspectives	
  ..............................................................	
  66	
   3.2.1	
  	
  	
  	
  Participatory	
  Action	
  Research	
  ...........................................................................................	
  68	
   3.2.2	
  	
  	
  	
  Indigenous	
  Collaborative	
  Research	
  .................................................................................	
  69	
   3.3	
  	
   The	
  Medicine	
  Wheel:	
  A	
  Balanced	
  Path	
  To	
  Health	
  And	
  Wellbeing	
  ................	
  78	
   3.4	
  	
   Storytelling	
  in	
  Traditional	
  and	
  Contemporary	
  Ways	
  Of	
  Healing	
  .................	
  79	
   3.4.1	
  	
  	
  	
  Indigenous	
  Storytelling	
  .........................................................................................................	
  80	
   3.4.2	
  	
  	
  	
  Storytelling	
  at	
  Warriors	
  Against	
  Violence	
  Society	
  ....................................................	
  81	
   3.5	
   Study	
  Methods	
  ................................................................................................................	
  83	
   3.6	
   Methodological	
  Tensions	
  ............................................................................................	
  87	
   3.7	
  	
   Concluding	
  Discussion	
  ................................................................................................	
  90	
   Chapter	
  4:	
  WAVS’	
  Teachings	
  .................................................................................................	
  93	
   4.1	
  	
   Context	
  .............................................................................................................................	
  93	
   4.2	
  	
   Participatory	
  Healing	
  At	
  WAVS	
  ................................................................................	
  97	
   4.2.1	
  	
  	
  	
  Sacred-­‐Self:	
  It’s	
  brought	
  me	
  a	
  lot	
  more	
  peace	
  and	
  promise.	
  ~	
  Terry	
  ..................	
  97	
   4.2.2	
  	
  	
  	
  East:	
  Why	
  am	
  I	
  so	
  violently	
  angry?	
  ~	
  Gerry	
  ..................................................................	
  99	
   4.2.3	
  	
  	
  	
  South:	
  It’s	
  all	
  about	
  survival.	
  ~	
  Michael	
  ........................................................................	
  108	
   4.2.4	
  	
  	
  	
  West:	
  We	
  learn	
  from	
  what	
  people	
  have	
  to	
  say	
  about	
  us.	
  ~	
  Freda	
  .......................	
  127	
   4.2.5	
  	
  	
  	
  North:	
  Every	
  choice	
  brings	
  meaning	
  to	
  where	
  I	
  am	
  now.	
  ~	
  Terry	
  ......................	
  134	
   4.3	
  	
   Closing	
  Discussion	
  .....................................................................................................	
  139	
    Chapter	
  5:	
  WAVS	
  Members’	
  Learnings	
  .................................................................	
  142	
   5.1	
  	
   Context	
  ..........................................................................................................................	
  142	
   5.2	
  	
   Participatory	
  Healing	
  At	
  WAVS	
  .............................................................................	
  143	
   5.2.1	
  	
  	
  	
  Sacred-­‐Self:	
  Whatever	
  I	
  do	
  today	
  is	
  going	
  to	
  impact	
  tomorrow.	
  ~	
  M.	
  ..............	
  143	
   5.2.2	
  	
  	
  	
  East:	
  I	
  remember	
  little	
  bits	
  and	
  pieces	
  of	
  my	
  household.	
  ~	
  Patrick	
  ....................	
  144	
   5.2.3	
  	
  	
  	
  South:	
  I	
  was	
  emotionally	
  smart,	
  so	
  I	
  was	
  like	
  a	
  loose	
  cannon	
  going	
  everywhere	
  	
  	
  	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  and	
  nowhere	
  at	
  the	
  same	
  time.	
  ~	
  Patsy	
  ..........................................................	
  151	
   5.2.4	
  	
  	
  	
  West:	
  I	
  feel	
  peaceful	
  and	
  strong	
  and	
  like	
  I	
  have	
  so	
  much	
  to	
  share.	
  ~	
  M.	
  ..........	
  166	
   5.2.5	
  	
  	
  	
  North:	
  I	
  don’t	
  have	
  to	
  worry	
  about	
  looking	
  over	
  my	
  shoulder	
  or	
  who’s	
  watching	
  	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  me.	
  ~	
  David	
  ................................................................................................................	
  174	
   v  5.3	
   Closing	
  Discussion	
  ......................................................................................................	
  177	
    Chapter	
  6:	
  Researcher	
  Learnings	
  ...........................................................................	
  179	
   6.1	
   Context	
  ...........................................................................................................................	
  179	
   6.2	
   Total	
  Person	
  .................................................................................................................	
  185	
   6.3	
   Total	
  Health	
  ..................................................................................................................	
  186	
   6.4	
   Total	
  Environment	
  .....................................................................................................	
  190	
   6.5	
   Closing	
  Discussion	
  ......................................................................................................	
  192	
    Chapter	
  7:	
  Conclusion	
  ................................................................................................	
  195	
   7.1	
  	
   General	
  Overview	
  ......................................................................................................	
  195	
   7.2	
   Learning	
  From	
  The	
  Past	
  ...........................................................................................	
  199	
   7.3	
   Understanding	
  The	
  Present	
  ....................................................................................	
  201	
   7.4	
   Looking	
  Towards	
  The	
  Future	
  .................................................................................	
  202	
   7.5	
   Recommendations	
  .....................................................................................................	
  205	
   7.6	
   Significance	
  And	
  Contribution	
  Of	
  The	
  Study	
  .....................................................	
  207	
   7.7	
   Limitations	
  Of	
  The	
  Study	
  ..........................................................................................	
  209	
   7.8	
   Research	
  Implications	
  ..............................................................................................	
  211	
   7.9	
   Closing	
  Discussion	
  ......................................................................................................	
  213	
    References	
  ......................................................................................................................	
  216	
   Appendices	
  .....................................................................................................................	
  229	
   Appendix	
  A:	
  WAVS	
  Letter	
  Of	
  Support	
  .............................................................................	
  229	
   Appendix	
  B:	
  Letter	
  Of	
  Initial	
  Contact	
  ..............................................................................	
  230	
   Appendix	
  C:	
  Consent	
  Form	
  For	
  Participants	
  ................................................................	
  231	
   Appendix	
  D:	
  Demographic	
  Form	
  ......................................................................................	
  233	
    vi  List Of Figures Figure 1.1: The 5 Rs of Indigenous Research Ethics........................................................................... 15 Figure 2.1: Relational Reasons for Abuse ........................................................................................... 56 Figure 2.2: The Symbolic Medicine Wheel: A Balanced Path to Health and Well-being .................. 60 Figure 3.1: PAR/ICR Conceptual Model............................................................................................. 71 Figure 3.2: ICR Contextual Model ...................................................................................................... 72 Figure 4.1: The Symbolic Medicine Wheel of Health, Wholeness and Harmony .............................. 97 Figure 6.1: Key Factors of Indigenous Wholistic Heath ................................................................... 184 Figure 6.1: Key Factors of Indigenous Wholistic Heath across Time ............................................... 204  vii  Acknowledgements This is my tenth consecutive year of university schooling, over which time I have so many people to thank and to honour for their unwavering belief in me. However, I must now focus on this particular degree’s time frame. To the founders, facilitators, members and participants at Warriors Against Violence Society, I raise my hands to you in honour of the incredible journeys you are on and that you have gifted me to be a part. To my husband Stephen and three sons, Jody (and Jenna), Sean and Kevin, and dearest friend, Todd, please accept my tons of love and gratitude for letting Mish, and your Momma, retreat into my own world, particularly over these last two years. Love you, love me. To Roberta Price, my Coast Salish Knowledge Keeper and close friend, you remain perfectly everywhere I arrive, and from everywhere I depart. True reciprocity lives in our hearts and in the land upon which we walk. Dear Musqueam Elder, Norma Rose Point, I will always think of you, now as a guiding Ancestor. To the undergraduate and graduate students who have assisted me with typing skills over these last four years, I thank you immensely: Robin, Amy, Sarah, Sita, Katie, Jennifer, Anna, and Peter. To faculty and staff members at UBC’s various education departments, more specifically the Depar tmento f Ed ucatio n, the F i rs t N atio ns H ou seo fLearnin g , an dth eX̱ w i7x̱ w a Libra ryat the Long House, I am extremely thankful for your varied, personal, and invaluable assistance: Faye, Carmen, Musqueam Elder Larry Grant, Natalie, Sheila, Marnie, Mar-y-paz, Debra, Kim, Sarah, Anne, Linda, and Eleanore. Drs. Jo-ann Archibald, Peter Cole, Hartej Gill of my supervisory committee and also Drs. Carl Leggo, Pat O’Riley, Michael Marker, Lee Brown, Jan Hare, Richard Vedan, and Eduardo Jovel, your mentorship has been a patient and gentle West Wind. I thank you with many blessings in kind.  viii  Chapter 1: Study Overview I open this chapter with an original poem on the following page that I wrote from a conversation between my mother Juanita Jane Dennison (August 6, 1942 – March 6, 2007) and I about our disconnected experiences of family violence, a snapshot in time—that propels me toward the very heart of my doctoral work. And The Walls Came Tumbling Up No, not much, I answer her, straightfaced and bland as dietary fibre. Oh good, she wavers. All these years I've worried about what you might have been carrying around inside of you. I only remember a few things mom, don't worry. One is the time we were 3 or 4 and you left us in the car in front of the hotel while you zipped in for a quick drink... I did okay, didn't I? Letting you know that Chris ate all the aspirins from the first-aid kit tucked under the front seat? Not many others, I carried on, mostly some tears in bed at night listening to the yelling. And one big one in the dark outside my bed room window. Maybe I was 6 when I woke up from the fighting and checked to see both of you outside naked and he had you pinned backwards over the hood of the car and yelled at me to get back to bed. That's when I left for good, the second time—that night was the corker— when he split open my stitches from my gallbladder operation. Ok, thanks for piecing it together for me, mom, I replied matter-of-factly. I'm so glad you don't remember much, dear, she sobs, like when he used to swat you for toddling in front of the TV when his hockey games were on... No, mom, don't worry— I blocked that out too. (1998)  1  1.1  Context Family violence directly and indirectly affects family members of all ages. “Violence in  families—child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence and Elder abuse—has been documented for centuries” (McCormick, 2002, p. 50). For many First Nations peoples, healing from violence is complex, as I discover through the creative outlet if not sheer necessity of my opening poem. Coping with memories, lack of reasoning and timelines, and a bland monotone adult voice and attitude were just some of the complexities I faced in 1998 when beginning to understand myself as a child survivor of alcoholic and sometimes angry, if not violent parents. Indigenous traditional and contemporary ways of healing include awareness and honour of life with respect for self, others and environment by living in spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual balance. Yet disharmony prevails among families. While violence is a social phenomenon regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, 1  my work focuses more specifically about Aboriginal communities and families. In our Western dominant healthcare system, policies and practices are often culturally-ineffective for Aboriginal peoples; Aboriginal health-knowledges and ways of being are frequently misunderstood and are subsequently pushed aside with disbelief and disdain. Bridging the chasm between Western knowledges and Indigenous ancestral/contemporary wisdom is vital for urban Aboriginal peoples to prevent and/or heal from family violence for generations to come. Aboriginal culture involves sustainability, relationality and adaptivity. A young woman whom I taught at Native Education College defines traditional culture as ‘bringing past knowledges and teachings into present practices’ (Personal Field Notes, November 17, 2011). Warriors Against Violence Society (WAVS, pronounced ‘waves’ and also referred to as ‘warriors’) is a community agency in Vancouver, British Columbia, that leads the way in theory and practice for family violence awareness and healing intervention and prevention. My doctoral dissertation, aptly titled by participants ‘Hope for Change—Change Can Happen’: Healing the Wounds of Family Violence with Indigenous Traditional Wholistic Practice is a collaborative effort to  1  The Constitution Act Section 35 (2), 1982 and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) use the term “Aboriginal” to refer inclusively to Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis peoples. We interchangeably use the terms Aboriginal, First Nation and Indigenous. Where appropriate, I also use the term Indigenous as inclusive of First Peoples globally and the many similar/diverse issues they face such as colonization, language revitalization, maintenance of Indigenous Knowledge Systems, land-based and cultural rights, and individual, family and community health and wellness. Further, I pluralized the term people (i.e. peoples) as respect towards the diversities of Aboriginal peoples’ living in Canada today who are “culturally, historically, linguistically and socially diverse” (National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO), 2008, p. 4).  2  spotlight the philosophy and practices WAVS and its attending members accomplish to end violence among Aboriginal peoples. Below is a description of my first evening visiting with WAVS: As people begin entering the group and saying hi to one another, Dan Parker, one of the cofounder/facilitators works at the table with his back to the group. He prepares sage in an 2  abalone shell and begins offering participants the opportunity to smudge , starting with the women to the left of the door. Participants stand and begin to take off their jewelry and place it on their chairs. I take off my glasses and bracelet but not by rings. He goes around the room clockwise and everyone smudges to cleanse themselves. The female co-facilitator, Joyce Fossella, is to my left. She leans over to tell me I can say ‘pass’ if I want to. I say ‘thank you’ but look forward to my turn; it has been a long while since I’ve been at a meeting where we can smudge. After everyone is done smudging, Joe Fossella Sr., her husband and cofounder/facilitator, says a long prayer welcoming everyone, praying for us and our brothers and sisters living on the streets and struggling with addictions. (Group Meeting Field Note, April 5, 2008) Family violence directly and indirectly affects family members of all ages. “Violence in families—child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence and Elder abuse—has been documented for centuries” (McCormick, 2002, p. 50). For many First Nations peoples healing from violence is complex, as I discover through the creative outlet if not sheer necessity of my opening poem. Coping with memories; lack of reasoning and timelines; and a bland monotone adult voice and attitude were just some of the complexities I faced in 1998 when beginning to understand myself as a child survivor of alcoholic and sometimes angry, if not violent parents. Indigenous traditional and contemporary ways of healing include awareness and honour of life with respect for self, others and environment by living in spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual balance. Yet disharmony prevails among families. While violence is a social phenomenon regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, my work focuses more specifically about Aboriginal1 communities and families. In our Western dominant healthcare system, policies and practices are often culturally-ineffective for Aboriginal peoples; Aboriginal health-knowledges and ways of being are frequently misunderstood and  2  Elders suggest being cleansed of any bad feelings, negative thoughts, bad spirits or negative energy—cleansed both physically and spiritually. This is commonly called "smudging," to burn certain herbs and take the smoke in one's hands and rub or brush it over the body. In Western North America the three plants most frequently used in smudging are sage, cedar and sweetgrass (Lester-Smith (Hill), 2008).  3  subsequently, are pushed aside with disbelief and disdain. Bridging the chasm between Western knowledges and Indigenous ancestral/contemporary wisdom is vital for urban Aboriginal peoples to prevent and/or heal from family violence for generations to come. Aboriginal culture involves sustainability, relationality and adaptivity. A student I taught at Native Education College defines traditional culture as ‘bringing past knowledges and teachings into present practices’ (Personal Field Notes, November 17, 2011).  1.2  Purpose As a result of multiple cultural losses and colonial practices that degrade First Nations  peoples’ cultural ways in mainstream urban-living, violence has become a negative response among many Aboriginal families and communities (Chrisjohn, Young and Marun, 2006; Dion Stout, Kipling and Stout, 2001; Haig-Brown, 1988; Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), 1996; Study Participants, 2011). WAVS was founded as a culturally-specific socio-educational organization in response to the above evidential health concerns. My focus is to qualitatively investigate a specific Aboriginal wholistic intervention model found to be effective for diminishing family violence. As lead researcher on this graduate program and dissertation project, I believe that as collaborators and contributors we are all researchers and all participants; hence this is the primary reason I write this document in both the first person-singular (‘I’ and ‘my’) and in the first person-plural (‘we’ and ‘our’). Simply put, I prefer the immediacy of the first-person narrative. Canadian novelist, Elizabeth Hays shares, ‘I write to myself as the first reader—if there is something there, I enjoy it—if there is not anything there, then I do not’ (The University of British Columbia (UBC)) Lecture Series, March 3, 2012). My personal writing style is not meant to be monotonous or an ‘all-about-me-dot-com’ process; instead I hope that my second readers, to whom Hays might refer, do not feel pangs of dissertational boredom. I seek ways to present my own voice throughout my work in personal anecdotes. For example, I endeavor to re/present as accurately as possible participant perspectives and voices. The end result is my written intention to bring forth the conceptual and contextual, intertwined realities of such a complex topic as family violence: some content reflects individuality while other material indicates essentialism. For instance, violence inflicts physical and mental pain on one’s self and/or another person; and healing from complex trauma involves a ‘self’ and ‘another’s’ healing journey. Western schools of thought, often referred to as the mainstream point of view and practice, do not completely envelop Indigenous ways of knowing and visa versa.  4  In this dissertation I address the salient matter of violence (no matter its Western or Indigenous derivatives). First, I explore ways in which the WAVS model imparts an understanding of contributing factors of family violence such as past traumas, poverty, power, substance abuse and social norms (Graveline, 2002; Jewkes, 2002; Mitchell and Maracle, 2005). Second, I articulate how the agency’s members utilize some of the specific tools offered by the agency that are found to be necessary for healing from violence. They express the positive impacts that WAVS has on their healing journeys across time as their coping defenses begin tumbling down, rather than like the 1998 exchange between my mother and I, where mine protectively came ‘tumbling up’. In his study “Understanding the Elevated Risk of Partner Violence Against Aboriginal Women: A Comparison of Two Nationally Representative Surveys of Canada”, Brownridge (2008) defines violence as acts of  •  Physical Threat: Being threatened to be hit with a fist or anything else that could hurt  •  Physical Assault: Having something thrown at you that could hurt; being pushed, grabbed or shoved in a way that could hurt; being slapped; being hit with something that could hurt; being kicked, bit or hit with a fist; being beaten; being choked; the threat or use of a knife or gun  •  Sexual Assault: Being forced into any sexual activity by being threatened, held down or hurt in some way. (p. 358)  Aboriginal identity is another socio-demographic factor associated with spousal violence. Results of the General Social Survey (2009) indicate that those who self-identify as an Aboriginal person are crucial to positive change for many Aboriginal peoples include understanding (1) the legacy of shame and violence from generations of colonization and (2) the positive effects of wholistically bringing together culture, tradition and ceremony as effective components of healing from experiencing family violence (Vedan, 2002). About shame, Hawaiian scholar, Martha Noyes, offers an encouraging perspective: “There is no blame, no guilt. There is only the responsibility each of us chooses to recognize the pain and heal the wound” (2003, vii). Likewise, WAVS members through program evaluations, retrospectively sum their healing:  •  My family used to refer to me as ‘the dark cloud’, the support I have received from this group has enabled me to be more supportive and loving to my family.  •  Our family is more open and supportive of each other. We discuss our issues in family meetings. 5  •  We came in as a single person or troubled couple and we’re leaving with knowledge.  •  My life has vastly improved because of the Warrior Teachings. Many people have noticed the big difference in my attitude. (September 2009-July 2010 Session)  One evaluative response becomes particularly personal to me as researcher. To the program feedback question, “What parts of the group have been helpful?” one respondent member states, I would say the time when Joe left the room. That was a good practice (WAVS Member-Session Evaluation, 2009/2010). From my Group Meeting Field Notes, I agree with this member that the following demonstration is effective: Joe gives a startling example of ownership during the session tonight. As a facilitator, his action was planned. But members like myself did not know what was coming. He throws the feather down and says, ‘I can’t do this. I’m upset right now’—and walks heavily out the door, moderately slamming it. Another group member heads out to see how he is doing and his wife Joyce soon follows. Upon their return, Joe asks, ‘Who took that personally? Who blamed themselves for my mood?’ Many people say yes, wondering if they had done something disrespectful; again, myself included (had I whispered a friendly comment to the person beside me too loudly?). It seems many of us take on the blame for Joe’s feelings. He finishes this particular learning by saying, ‘The mind thinks at 360 words/minute and 80% of those thoughts are negative.’ (Group Meeting Field Note, July 5, 2010) Suddenly, as I seek, find and add this specific note, it hits home for me. My above passage serves not only as a reminder of what I learn from WAVS but also as resonance to this discussion of blurred identities—who is to ultimately define individual facilitators, members, participants and researchers among our separate, yet inter-connected pain/healing journeys? Meanwhile some WAVS members wonder, ‘Why this anger, why this abuse among our families and communities?’ Dan points out, I just wanted to understand. If someone had told me why I was picked on in the school yard, what that was all about, then maybe I would not have been so angry (Aboriginal Community Guidance Committee (ACGC) Field Note, October 2, 2009). Scholars like Boyer (2006), Chrisjohn, Young and Marun (2006), Fournier and Crey (1997), continue to ask this question—why—and continue to seek answers to it. My role as a researcher is to de/familiarize the all-too familiarity of systemic Aboriginal violence by underscoring one particular exemplar: Warriors Against Violence Society. Upon a solid foundation of traditional teachings and customary ways of healing, Warriors fills the educational void of cultural-specific reasons for violence among many Aboriginal peoples and the contemporary 6  knowledge gaps that prevent healing. The ultimate purpose of this study, therefore, is to explore and to document what the WAVS intervention model is; what it offers its members; how members perceive its influence on their lives; and how and why the WAVS approach could benefit more families in more communities. In order for me to make meaning of the WAVS healing paradigm—inclusive of participant storytelling, no matter what traditional or patch-quilt discourses offered me—I need to be curious and open to demarcated, animate, ‘walking’ discourses. I silently observe with all of my six senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing and intuitive-ancestral wisdom. In doing so I organize my research processes into the following six guiding principles. In parentheses I index in what specific chapters the exploratory-based answers are revealed: 1. What—and for whom—is the defined situation? In what ways and for whom has the WAVS community allowed me to join and to academically story-tell? (Chapters 1: Introduction and 2: Theoretical Frameworks); 2. How are we to accomplish the matter at hand and effect positive change? (Chapter 3: Methodological Perspectives); 3. Where are the safest locations for relevant concerns to be discussed? (Chapter 3: Study Methods); 4. Why is the identified situation and ensuing response important? To whom is it most vital? (Chapters 4 and 5: WAVS and Participant Teachings and Learnings); 5. So What – Implications – What impacts are revealed and why/how can our learned knowledge assist throughout this process? (Chapter 6, Researcher Learnings); and 6. Now What – Recommendations – What philosophical and practical changes are needed? Where do we go from here and how can we continue to effect necessary change in Aboriginal peoples’ health, healing and well-being for our future generations? (Chapter 7: Closing Considerations). I do not imply that such simplistic sounding imperatives as What/Who/Why/How/Where/So what/Now what and their descriptions are in any way rudimentary. Rather, these cornerstone  7  questions are guiding stepping stones in our collaborative study. In fact, I understand the principles as profound, powerful and of vital importance to my collaborative relationships with WAVS founders/facilitators and members. Such relationships, questions and ensuing answers are in constant motion both relationally and adaptationally; they are a living process of “Storytellers in Motion”, a titled song by Russell Wallace, a WAVS (Wallace/Fossella) family member (Heart Beats: A CD Benefit for Warriors Against Violence, 2009). Shawn Wilson (2008) writes with a similar kind of forward motion; he creatively narrates to his three young sons as well as to his academic readers advocating that “an Indigenous research paradigm is relational and maintains relational accountability” (p. 71). Within my own life I too walk a path of relationality and adaptability.  1.3  Personal Relevance Family violence, both directly and indirectly, affects Elders, mothers, wives, sisters,  fathers, husbands and brothers—children of all ages. While inter-generational challenges do exist, they are not always publically witnessed. After witnessing alcohol-related violence between my parents, 25 years later I experienced degrees of violence from my sons towards me after their Dad and I divorced in 1999. The domino effect of hurt and anger took its toll on our family: my oldest son took his anger and hurt out on his first in line-younger brother and then my middle and youngest sons each took their anger and hurt out on me. One by one, year by year, we all matured and began to heal—me as a solo parent and they as healthier, more confident young men. I also personally understand significant implications of poverty. As a single parent between 1999 and 2007, I needed to register for two annual Salvation Army Christmas Hampers of food and gifts for us. In addition, at two different elementary schools where I worked staff gifted us with collected money, food donations and grocery-store gift certificates. Just as kind staff members from my past identified we were a family in need, I identify my heritage as a necessity to understand who I am. In doing so I am the only one in my maternal family to seek those ‘who’ answers. In 2002, armed with the names, birth, marriage and death dates of my mother’s French-Canadian Algonquin/Métis relations, I requested a genealogical search through the Vernon Métis Association of BC. Sinclair (2003) outlines the purpose of locating oneself as a researcher in Aboriginal research: “It means revealing our identities to others; who we are, where we come from, our experiences that have shaped those things and our intentions for the work we do. Hence, ‘location’ in Indigenous research, as in life, is a critical starting point” (p. 122). Brown and Strega (2005) encourage researchers to position themselves at the beginning of their work. They advocate that location “is essential to Indigenous methodologies and Aboriginal  8  research/world view/epistemologies” and suggest that as Aboriginal researchers, the reason we write about ourselves is because “the only thing we can write about with authority is ourselves” (p. 97). Creswell (2007) suggests that such positioning is more than autobiographical and also focuses on “how individuals’ culture, gender, history and experiences shape all aspects of the qualitative project from question choices, data collection and interpretations” (p. 47). With self-identification protocols such as these instilled within me, I carry on. Validated hereditary-knowledge has been vital to me in that I can nostalgically consider, ‘Okay, finally it all makes sense—now I know why I am different; why I think wholistically to always seek to understand the bigger picture. How it is I can sit bedside with gentleness as my grandmother, mother, father, best friend and acquaintances I met through my hospice volunteerism pass away? Lastly, how it is that I can unfailingly acknowledge myself as a visitor on whose ancestral lands I present my learnings and scholarly teachings at numerous research conferences? Like so many participants in this study, my identity is indeed personal with long lasting and emotionally-binding attachments to my journey thus far. I am a Métis woman on the life-long quest to reclaim traditional knowledges, customs and understandings. This parallel path has led me to my current study in which I seek to honour marginalized voices by countering hegemonic societal forces, a fluid life-long experience that drives my passion and commitment to this study. Not unlike many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, I experience both the implicit and explicit attempts to silence my voice, my thoughts and my perceptions throughout my childhood as someone living with a disability; in the workforce as a person with a disability; and within the professional community. Since learning to reject intimidation from those who seek to overtly discount my views, the people I know—more specifically, WAVS members/participants—actively trust in my authentic strength to collaborate with them at this particular juncture in our lives. We are faced with so many things, violence, drugs, alcohol. So we’re going back to our culture, to the old ways; taking our children back into the longhouse, taking them into the sweat lodge ... It’s coming back strong. The cycle of healing. We’re healing a lot of people of the suffering when they went to [residential] school ... Their cycle is coming back. They’re giving themselves back to the Great Spirit. It is good to sit with an Elder. It is good medicine for us. (The Late Chief Simon Baker, cited in Verna Kirkness, 1992, p. 173) In 2009, similar to what Chief Baker explains, I too was faced with ‘so many things’. Knowing the general vicinity of my doctoral work—Aboriginal health—was not sufficient. Focusing  9  on courses about Aboriginal theory, methodology and education did not excuse me from needing a bird’s-eye view of certainty. It was during this time that I meet the founders and facilitators of Warriors Against Violence Society. They were a collaborative partner for another study about Aboriginal women and violence on which I worked as a research assistant. After a number of months participating in WAVS evening support meetings as an observer, I remember my thoughts of gratitude for being welcomed into the group. Some evenings I share how I feel as both an outsider (as a researcher) and also as someone remembering the years my parents were alcoholics and fought with one another and how, therefore, I can relate to some of the group discussions. I can describe Joe’s underlying acceptance and spoken belief in me: one particular evening, after my brief circle check-in, as I am about to pass the feather to the person sitting to my left, he stops me, saying, Wait, you are a part of this group now. Before you pass the feather, tell us how you feel (Group Meeting Field Note, July 5, 2010). As part of every WAVS group introductory check-in we were to give two ‘feeling’ words that describe our emotions at the time. It is with gratitude to Chief Baker and the WAVS facilitators and members’ convictions that our cycles are returning. It is good medicine for us—that I share with and about the agency, its history and its contemporary program. Not all cycles feel good as they manifest into memories, as many participants explain throughout this dissertation; however, we do recognize a ‘Hope for Change’ as this dissertation is titled, the need for change and move forward in our thoughts and healing actions.  1.4  Warriors Against Violence Society In 1997, Change of Seasons, an Aboriginal men’s anger counselling organization, was forced  to restructure its facilitation costs because of injurious government funding cuts. Despite this fiscal setback two group members recognized that such shortfalls did not negate the necessity for Aboriginal cultural practices to heal family violence. In 1998, Joe (Sechelt and Hawaiian Nations) and Dan (Burrard, Squamish, Hawaiian and Chilean Nations) founded the current community organization, WAVS. Soon after Warriors first opened its doors to assist men wanting to change their behaviours, the women partners of the new members counselled the facilitators about their mistaken exclusion. Women asked, how can we heal our families when men and women are segregated from one another in the healing process? The women spoke and the Warriors listened—Joyce (Lil’wat Nation) and Gail (Blackfoot and Chippewa Nations) became co-facilitators alongside their husbands. Presently, the counsellor-trained facilitators provide 2 consecutively run 28-week socio-educational sessions a year. Co-ed group sessions are held on Monday evenings while the men and women gather separately to support one another on Thursday evenings.  10  1.5  Background Information A growing body of literature documents the negative health effects of family violence within  Aboriginal communities (Dion Stout, 2009; Jones, 2008; Keel, 2004; Kurtz, Nyberg, Tillart, Mills and The Okanagan Urban Aboriginal Health Research Collective [OUAHRC], 2008; Romans, Forte, Cohen, Du Mont and Hyman, 2007; Walker, Logan, Jordan and Campbell, 2004). Aboriginal peoples’ health and well-being are impacted by family violence embedded in socio-cultural, historical, political and economic contexts that often lead to family denigration, homelessness, crimes, incarceration, homicide and suicide (Campbell, 2002; Dion Stout, 2009; Vedan, 2002; Wuest, Ford-Gilboe, Merritt-Gray and Berman, 2003). The violence spectrum has its roots in Aboriginal historical experiences of colonization by Western settlers beginning in 1492, that must be adequately understood to restore wholeness, trust and safety to Aboriginal families and community lives. Despite such strong foundations, according to this study’s participants few community agencies are designed, willing, and/or able to provide the instrumental knowledge and practices necessary for the well-being of Aboriginal families in urban contemporary times. However, WAVS does impart such inherent teachings. The organization is a rarity in Canada in that it innovatively brings together Aboriginal men and women with trained facilitators to impart and to emphasize cultural teachings, thus helping its members to interpret the reasons they find themselves engaging in oppressive and violent practices. The agency’s unique mandate is culturally-based, operating on the core belief that healing and wellness are best achieved by acquisition and restoration of traditional Aboriginal customs and approaches. To better understand such a rich mission overview I propose two key research inquiries.  1.6  Research Questions My/Our research involves an in-depth historical and present-day analysis of WAVS,  inclusive of exploring its violence intervention model; members’ perceptions and experiences about WAVS; and ultimately, how policy changes can be made to enhance the outreach capabilities of the agency to end family violence. Aboriginal philosophies and perspectives about living within and being a part of nature’s elements (land, fire, water and air), have and still do, guide Indigenous peoples’ intrinsic ideologies of health and healing. In an urban setting like Vancouver and to some extent, its outlying suburban districts, traditional guidance is demonstrated by a number of traditional practices. Indigenous and Western methodological paradigms can positively shape Aboriginal peoples’ health. This particular cultural fusion is complex, not easy to establish and difficult to  11  maintain. Therefore, the main object of our study has been to explore ways that WAVS, as a contemporary healthcare provider, uses traditional/cultural practices to facilitate healing from violence in many of its members’ lives. Guiding questions are: 1. How does WAVS articulate and conceptualize its cultural components and their importance of being implemented and received as an intervention model for healing from family violence? 2. How does the WAVS intervention model impact and support members wishing to heal fr om both intergenerational and contemporary perceptions and experiences of family? On the whole, I seek to best understand how members and facilitators heal from past familial violent traumas and seek healthier beginnings or traverse the ‘Red Road’ of wellness to which I have heard many Aboriginal peoples refer. As a more global exemplar, Dave Baldridge, a member of the Cherokee Nation attending the 2010 “Healing Our Spirits Worldwide” conference, reminded his audience, ‘Mainstream healthcare providers refer to their work as best practices—we Indigenous peoples call it wise practices’ (original emphasis).  1.7  Relational Ethics I invite my close friends and mentors, Roberta Price of Coast Salish, Snuneymuxw and Cowichan Tribe and Musqueam Elder, Rose Point, (November 18, 1933 ~ July 2, 2012), to lunch. Beyond planning a lunch between friends, I am also following traditional Aboriginal protocol by asking Rose her permission and blessing upon my doctoral studies. The landbased origin of our collaborative relationships between UBC and greater community members is situated on unceded ancestral Musqueam Territory. Aboriginal protocol and relational ethics strongly intimate that I respectfully acknowledge this positionality, ask for and honour Elder guidance. During our visit Rose places her hand on my forearm, looks into my eyes and informs me: ‘There is a word called ‘discourse’—go learn what this means so that you can find the right words to speak up; to say what and why some things are not acceptable; and to speak about what you believe in.’ (Personal Field Note, June 17, 2009) It is upon Elders Rose and Roberta’s initial guidance and the many respectful WAVS  members and participants from whom I continue to learn, that this dissertation primarily rests. The  12  relational ethics practices on which I rest my work are the “4 Rs” of Indigenous research: Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity and Responsibility first articulated by Verna Kirkness and Ray Barnhardt. The authors advocate the need for universities as educational systems to develop a student-and/or participant-centered approach that “respects [study participants] for who they are that is relevant to their view of the world that offers reciprocity in their relationships with others and that helps them exercise responsibility over their own lives” (1991, p. 13). Further, I include a 5th R that has surfaced throughout my doctoral work thus far—Relationality—honouring intertwined relationships in multiple commonsensical ways in our dynamic world today. Application of the 5R's to ethically-sound relationships is also supported within New Zealand’s six components of Kaupapa Māori, which means ‘by Māori for Māori’. These practices are: face to face participant-researcher meetings; looking, listening and learning; showing respect towards people; generous reciprocal sharing of knowledges; awareness of cultural safety in healthcare practices; and respectful discussion and dissemination of collaboratively learned health knowledge as outlined by Smith (1999) and by Pipi and colleagues (2004). I further discuss Māori protocols in chapter 3. Another class student of mine from the Native Education College, describes respect in this way: ‘Showing respect is the basic law of life. Treat the child to the oldest Elder with respect at all times’ (2011). Vine Deloria Jr. (1994) says of ethics, they “flow from the ongoing life of the community and are virtually indistinguishable from the tribal or communal customs” (p. 68). Being ethically responsible to this project and the participants who graciously become a part of it, I demonstrate five principles for building and sustaining ethically-sound relationships. First, I respect the storytellers for their experiences and perceptions of violence and the ways in which they learn from WAVS without fear, shame and judgment. Second, I hold firm participants’ newfound ways of honouring their non-violent spirits by accepting and practicing traditional teachings in culturally-relevant, contemporary living. Third, within the opportunity to witness WAVS members and participants gain pride about the color of their skin; knowledge about their culture and familial histories; and self-esteem despite past and present colonial oppression, I find ways to reciprocate more than what they share with me. Fourth, I act upon my responsibility towards participants by keeping their familial stories alive, dynamic and ever-in-motion through respectful, relevant, reciprocal and responsible disseminations of our collective Indigenous knowledges. Last, I remain tentative to honouring participants and my instinctive non-mysterious relationalities as relating to or characterized by, our interconnected heritage/s. I close this section with a meeting field note that encompasses all of the ethical Rs to which I refer: Energy in the room is not as strong tonight, I feel it in the introduction circle where facilitator, Joe, passes around a feather and asks everybody, the one holding the feather at that time  13  (respect), to introduce his or her name, home community, First Nations ancestry (relationality) and then give a feeling word—are you happy, sad, anxious, energetic—just a one-word description of yourself. That’s how WAVS evenings begin (relevance). Many, many people say they are feeling tired tonight. I have to say, I am too. I have difficulties because my energy is low. Lately it’s been tough to go all the way across town to the meetings but I do (reciprocity). I have a responsibility to get my act together and get over there. (Group Meeting Field Note, September 27, 2010) Below is a visual representation of the Indigenous Relational Ethics (IRE) that I incorporate into my work.  14  Figure 1.1:  The 5 Rs of Indigenous Research Ethics (IRE)  15  1.8  Sequence I subdivide my dissertation into seven chapters. Readers may note that unlike a traditional  thesis where chapters 1 or 2 commonly reveal an extensive literature review, I disperse literature learnings throughout the entire dissertation and position participants’ voices along side academically published text. About literature, Smith (1999) guides my greater considerations: In addition to this literature, however, are the stories, values, practices and ways of knowing which continue to inform indigenous pedagogies. In international meetings and networks of indigenous peoples oracy, debate, formal speech making, structured silences and other conventions which shape oral traditions remain a most important way of developing trust, sharing information, strategies, advice, contracts and ideas. (p. 14) Likewise, neither do I restrict participant-voices to the more commonly associated chapter placements of ‘findings’ and ‘discussions’. Rather, I position their invaluable contributions throughout where I deem culturally-and contextually fitting. In Chapter 2, I offer a broad reflection of Aboriginal worldviews or Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), particularly as they more narrowly relate to family violence, healing and balanced wellness. Western theories and intervention practices of family violence are prolific throughout our dominant societal notions of health, healing and wellbeing. This is a given. Nevertheless, I do not position Indigenous theories and practices as completely adversarial to Western ways. Warriors Against Violence Society is indexical of a more culturally-appropriate fusion of these two health paradigms. Joe, WAVS facilitator, reminds me, It is wise to learn Western ways too, so that when we also know Indigenous knowledge, we can be stronger in both (Guidance Committee Field Note, October 2, 2009). Warriors includes historical to present-day expressions of need, strengths, challenges and future legacy. The program seeks to ensure that violence and abuse are not recycled into future generations. The Indigenous methodological approach to healing through Aboriginal storytelling makes up the foundational weight of Chapter 3. There I share a fresh vantage point of the need/less validity of actions that encompass the hearts and minds of many First Nations peoples. I intuit that Aboriginal ways of being include a wealth of personal perspectives, specifically, the symbolic ‘Medicine Wheel’ of balanced living and Aboriginal storytelling as a sound Indigenous methodological approaches to effective research relationships with, for and by Indigenous peoples for  16  the benefit of contemporary healing and future generational harmony. Lastly, I include some of the methodological tensions I experienced throughout the project. Chapters 4 and 5 show how our research/participant personalities, experiences and interconnectedness merge together. Of significance may be their respective titles; ‘WAVS Teachings’ and ‘WAVS Members’ Learnings’, terms that sidestep the norm of categorizing scholarly ‘findings’ and ‘discussions’. Although the significance of WAVS’ life-altering contributions may seem universal—an outcry to end violence (primarily perpetrated against women and children) based on respectful and relevant ethnicity standards—it is more than ever, vital to the richness of diverse worldviews in which we live. A worldview is important because it is the filter system behind the beliefs, behavior and actions of people. It is the tacit infrastructure people use for their beliefs, behavior and relationships. Two persons with differing worldviews can look at or experience the same event and come away with very different interpretations. (First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS): The Next Generation of Community-Based Research, First Nations Information Governance Committee, 2009, p. 1) In chapter 6, when discussing the implications of all that participants have shared with me, I signify and merge three approaches to self-health and healing: (1) Total person that encompasses all levels of individuality—body, mind, heart and spirit; (2) Total health that includes wholistic, interconnected, inclusive, interrelated and interactive wellness; and (3) Total environment in ways that maintain healthy relationships with our living environment. In a resounding, unified voice, participants declare that family is both an area of first priority, and the impetus for change. Finally, it is in Chapter 7 that I re/affirm study recommendations, goals, tangible practices that do and could, greatly assist other First Nations peoples who also endure familial violence. I discuss what I consider to be the study’s successes and limitations and then interpretively revisit the vital needs of Aboriginal peoples either experiencing or healing from family violence. I do so both narrowly within the context of WAVS as an effective First Nations intervention program and more broadly as destined to help more people, should the agency’s successful approaches be implemented in other community-based facilities.  17  1.9  Writing on Behalf of Participants I briefly introduce participants with their self-chosen names: Gerry, Freda, Patrick, Donna,  Melanie, Terry and Ryan are/were WAVS members presently attending the program at the time of our conversations together. David, Michael, Patsy and M. (known to friends by her nickname), are past WAVS attendees. Guiding Elder Roberta Price, Millie, Stephanie and Stuart are sharing circle participants, while lastly, Joe and Joyce Fossella and Dan and Gail Parker are/were the original cofounders and co-facilitators of the agency. Leslie Nelson became a co-facilitator in the fall of 2010 and Bruce Wood is the former program designer of the Change of Seasons Program (1992-2006) on Squamish Nation territory in North Vancouver or across the waters as Joe and Dan frequently denote and give credit for saving their lives. I am grateful to all 22 participants for their individual and collective contributions. The date-range in which participants and I meet and digitally record our conversations falls between December 2010 and June 2011. Implicit in each of the participants’ stories are personal details transformed into the political arena of violence intervention, healing strategies and well-being under the catchment of the governing healthcare system today. Storytelling reflected through the lens of Indigenous theory and methodology is demonstrated throughout this study. Meaning-making derived from it may or may not be as explicit as conventional academe normally records. Ultimately, a collaborative project such as this uses stories and storytelling to disrupt normative analytical discourses, practices, findings and depictions. Readers may also note my extensive endeavours to narrate both past and present experiences in the ‘first person’ present tense. This practice stems from my skills as a poet, short-fictionist and essayist, whereby I hone my writing abilities of creating strong immediacy between my readers and myself. Whether a topic is benign or disturbing, I ensure as much as possible that neither my readers nor I find anywhere to run or to hide. Through immediacy we are interfaced with the narrative moment of both tragic and triumphant life-altering events. Through this dissertation as author, participants and readers we can better witness a present connectedness with one another. Like Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, in You are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment (2001) shares, The past is always there, accessible. If we look deep into the present moment, we see the past and the future in it. The insight of interbeing also applies to time. We see that the present is made up of non-present elements, that is, of the past and the future. (p. 45)  18  As is expected in academe, I reference those scholars who have published before me with double quotation marks or with block double-indentation. However, embedded in participant and researcher contributions are single quotes because no matter my attention to detail, both participant and my personal comments can appear obscure. For example, although most may hold the appearance of being a primary source, they are, in fact, secondary, if not multiple sources. They have traveled through conversations in sometimes noisy public locations, a digital recorder, my transcriptionist and my listening abilities, typed formatting and lastly, deep contemplation. Further, I denote all participant and researcher-field note voices in italics and with block, single-indentation to give prominence to their contextual value and to relieve extensive amounts of quotation marks wherever possible. Lastly, I pluralize the words ‘learnings’ and ‘knowledges’ because upon closer critique, they are not singular derivatives from singular sources; I also spell the word ‘wholsim’ with a ‘w’ in keeping with Aboriginal ancestral and scholarly traditions.  1.10 Closing Discussion From the beginning there were drums, beating our world rhythms— the booming, never-failing tide on the beach, the 4 seasons, gliding smoothly, one from the other; when the birds come, when they go, the bear hibernating for his sleep. Unfathomable the way, yet all too perfect time. Watch the beating in your wrist—a precise pulse beat of life’s Drum—with loss of timing, you are ill. (Jimilee Burton [Ho-Chief Nee], 1974, cited in Jean, 2002) The need for a booming, precise pulse beat of healing is transparent in the following story where WAVS Facilitator, Leslie, is well into many years of healthier ways of living. He talks of his current struggles of envisioning impending violence, an ingrained survival mode, while parked outside a local grocery store: Leslie was putting groceries in the back of his trunk and saw three guys walking across the parking lot towards him. He automatically, unconsciously, began ‘sizing them up’ and deciding, ‘What have I got here if I need it? Okay, I've got a can of food I can use as a weapon. I've got a bottle of cooking oil that could be turned into a weapon—that I could use to protect myself.’ He also said he was envisioning the bruises, the blood, the carnage while having a mental rehearsal of how he could get ready to hurt them before they hurt him. The kids, the guys, they were just walking by, but He talked about how combative thoughts have  19  been bothering him lately and he really wants to give it up and let them, to give his mind permission to stop sizing people up and stop visualizing preparedness for violence. (Group Meeting Field Note, March 28, 2011) Whether we are men or women, researchers or participants, facilitators or members, the appropriate community support at the right time in Aboriginal peoples’ lives is needed to facilitate healthy change. Although I use the terms ‘wholism’ and ‘wellness’ throughout the dissertation, I recognize that words and their attached notions such as, ‘health’, ‘healing’, ‘trauma’, ‘oppression’, ‘marginalize’, ‘spirituality’, ‘emotionality’, ‘physicality’, ‘intellectuality’ and/or even ‘violence’ and ‘abuse’ can hold different meanings for different people. My intent is not to essentialize these lexicons but to communicate on behalf of WAVS, the community and the participants in the best ways that I must, to responsibly discuss the multitude of relevancies that I/We learn throughout this project/process. An Elder at the 2010 “Healing our Spirits Worldwide” conference in Hawaii told his audience, ‘This is not about intellect. It is about soul.’ I interpret this to mean that our struggles, our lives are not merely about how smart we can be or what activities and distinct choices in which we engage. They are about who we really are within our true purpose, our integrity and the ways in which we demonstrate our genuine attitudes and actions. The Elder continued, ‘There has to be a new sales plan for us and for our children. In the last two to three hundred years something has gone terribly wrong.’ As I begin to pick up the pieces from walls of residual violence that tumble upward in denial and then downwards in disarray, I realize that my ‘sales pitch’ can frequently be found in my writing. Readers may soon note my storytelling nature, adaptive and relational approaches to life, particularly the participants’ lives as we intersect throughout this project. I allow such relationships to be both definable and malleable as we share and shift the roles of participant, researcher and storyteller interchangeably by demarcating both participant-contributions and my inter-connective storied thoughts with italics. Surrounding text remains in regular font style. Relationally, as interconnected pluralistic voices, I begin incorporating participant storytelling as early as Chapter 2. Returning to the above Elder’s concern that something is indeed ‘wrong’, I whole-heartedly agree. Somewhere amid Western living, the diminishment of family violence is not working—we need to find a different way. As this study reveals, Warriors Against Violence Society offers a positive perspective.  20  Chapter 2: Indigenous And Western Theoretical Systems As I begin walking toward the campus village, I see a coyote in the near distance trotting along the perimeters of our parking lot that is surrounded by town houses. He seems to be looking for an opening where he can jog across the street into Pacific Spirit Park; but the evergreen bushes that he butts his nose into had fencing was behind them too. I watch Coyote, seemingly a little bit lost and a little bit on the prowl for his home habitat and wonder why he presents himself to me today. What lessons am I to learn from him? I think he brings forth a witnessing experience for me, himself perhaps feeling boxed-in and apprehensive or anxious and trying to find where he belongs. Sometimes such searches end perfectly and right away, other times they take twists and turns and nuances of finding our ways. (Personal Field Note, April. 29, 2011)  2.1  Context Coyote, in all likelihood, is not at all confined and anxious in working his way home amongst  the low-lying trees. Similar to him, I need to be stronger in this way, more aware of where I am going today. I have no doubt he will find his way home and more importantly, he likely has no concerns in these moments either. He is confident and purposeful, knowing exactly where he is meant to be. Similarly, Indigenous knowledges (IK) and Indigenous methodologies (IM) are never still in time, in context or in the solidity of confidence (Archibald, 2008; Battiste and Henderson, 2000; Cole, 2006; Cajete, 2000; Kondrat, 2002; Marsden, 2006; Mehl-Madrona, 2005). Kawagley and Barnhardt (1999) believe “recognition of cultural systems as being dynamic and ever-changing in response to new conditions has enormous implications for the sustainability of indigenous communities …” (p. 137). Zen philosophy has taught me to maintain mindful awareness throughout even the most basic of daily activities: At dressing time, put on your clothes. When you must walk…walk. When you must sit…sit. Just follow your ordinary actions in ordinary life, do not concern yourself with the search for enlightenment. When tired, lie down. The foolish mind will laugh at you but the wise man will understand. (Lee, 2000, p. 52)  21  Indigenous worldviews, similar to Eastern philosophies like Zen and Buddhism, also relationally unite our personal everyday-tasks with universal wisdoms. While I do not present any new theoretical perspectives at this early time in my scholarly career—I do scaffold upon the integrity of Indigenous knowledges and strive for my Indigenous collaborative research to find its own ways of being in both academe and our greater community. My intent in this theoretical chapter is to roam the landscapes of traditional, contemporary and future Indigenous theory and healing practices, particularly within the realm of understanding and healing from family violence. Theories fit not only the historical times in which they were created but also the contemporary times in which they are re/considered to best understand our lives. More importantly, theories can remain adaptive rather than constrictive. As a photograph hobbyist, I have come across Edward Weston’s book, “Aperture Masters of Photography” (1932) in which he endorses pragmatic theoretical fluidity. I never try to limit myself by theories ... If I am interested, amazed, stimulated to work … I do not fear logic, I dare to be irrational or really never consider whether I am or not. This keeps me fluid, open to fresh impulse, free from formulae [and] open to any fresh impulse, fluid. (pp. 38 and 46). Whether freeing or limiting, academic or participant-based, theories throughout this dissertation showcase a particular theme: unpacking and understanding the Aboriginal wholeness of health as we journey towards it. To date, alongside the participants’ stories, the document Aboriginal Domestic Violence in Canada: Prepared for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation by Michael Bopp, Judie Bopp and Phil Lane Jr. (2003) has keenly facilitated my broadest spectrum of learning about the complexities of family violence that occurs within many Aboriginal families. The report suggests the sheer volume of needs to unpack and to bracket in order to fully understand the multiple complexities of Aboriginal peoples’ experiences of violence. The authors succinctly outline that Aboriginal family violence and abuse  •  Is a multi-factorial social syndrome and not simply an undesirable behavior;  •  Resides within Aboriginal individuals, families and community relationships, as well as within social and political dynamics;  •  Typically manifests itself as a regimen of domination that is established and enforced by one person over one or more others, through violence, fear and a variety of abuse strategies; 22  •  Is usually not an isolated incidence or pattern but is most often rooted in intergenerational abuse;  •  Is almost always linked to the need for healing from historical traumas;  •  Is allowed to continue and flourish because of the presence of enabling community dynamics, which as a general pattern, constitutes a serious breach of trust between the victims of violence and abuse and the whole community; and  •  The entire syndrome has its roots in Aboriginal historical experience, which must be adequately understood in order to be able to restore wholeness, trust and safety to the Aboriginal family and community life. (p. ix)  The above web of awareness of culturally-sensitive and relevant significances, interventions, recommendations and health policy re/writings propel me towards a powerful comprehension about fluid time and inter-generational connectedness vital to Aboriginal peoples’ health and well-being in Canada today. Nevertheless, I find myself curious. How can I presently explore ancestral, contemporary and future knowledges and practices all at once? Within the crevices of my thought processes and writing, I can cautiously explicate a response. Ancestral guidance, friends, Indigenous scholars and mentors like my doctoral supervisor, Dr. Jo-ann Archibald, assist me. Authentic Indigenous research means: honouring past, present and future in interpretive and analytical research processes including historical references and inter-generational discourse; honouring the interconnectedness of all life and the multi-dimensional aspects of life on the Earth and in the community research design and implementation; and honouring the spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of the person and the community in research protocols, methodologies and analyses. (Archibald, 1997, p. 15) Indigenous scholars who also honour our interconnectedness, and how our present lives and research philosophies mirror the wellness of our futures as Aboriginal peoples include Battiste (2000), Cole (2006), Gill (2003), Holmes (2000) and Kenny (1998). Within my own learnings about Indigenous, Eastern and Western knowledges, I intuitively trust and metaphorically borrow, discover, learn, understand, interpret and honour the relational ancient/ancestral and contemporary knowledges that assist me throughout this dissertation. I traverse such intersectional terrains as Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) and health; Western Knowledge (WK) and health; healing in the context 23  of urban-living Aboriginal peoples and family violence; and the Medicine Wheel as a figurative framework for balanced wellness. One participant declares about her own healing journey, A warrior is finding that strength to bring back our traditions (Group Meeting Field Note, Melanie, March 30th, 2010). As spiritually connected warriors, numerous participants and I embark upon the Medicine Wheel. Together we explore some of the many traditional/contemporary ways in which WAVS assists its members to heal from family violence by providing culturally-relevant tools to guide them towards diminishing violence within their families and communities. Background context about family violence, specifically among some Aboriginal peoples, requires not only past awareness and documentation but also contemporary understanding and future visioning. Present reality dictates that extreme numbers of Aboriginal peoples and their wellness paths remain marred in family violence primarily because of cultural loss. As many as eight out of ten Aboriginal women have experienced violence and rates for partner/spousal abuse are significantly higher among Aboriginal women than Aboriginal men and among non-Aboriginal peoples (Statistics Canada, 2006, p. 9). In 2009 Aboriginal females who reported spousal violence were over three times more likely than Aboriginal males (34% versus 10%) to report that they had been sexually assaulted, beaten, choked or threatened with a gun or a knife by their partner or ex-partner in the previous five years. The Medicine Wheel is a pro-active and empowering approach to social intervention with individuals as well as a self-help tool. James Waldram (1993) proposes “the name symbolic healing to identify this varied and complex form of therapy, which research suggests is neither intrinsically nor generically incompatible with other forms of healing and medicine” and that the “central focus of Aboriginal awareness and spirituality programming [inside Canadian prison institutions], as well as the parent institutions, is the work of Elders” (Waldram, 1993, p. 346-347). WAVS’ philosophy of balanced wellness is also symbolically-based on the Medicine Wheel. (General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization, 2009). Also recorded is that Aboriginal people tend to be highly re/presented as victims and perpetrators of crime as well as among incarcerated persons (p. 6). No matter the historical reasons for contestations not being acted upon, WAVS demonstrates how violent authority can and should be challenged. Joe Fossella and Dan Parker, co-founders of WAVS, began their healing journeys and commitment to work with their communities after witnessing, experiencing and then perpetrating violence in their own families. They soon learned first hand—from unison voices of participating men and their partners—the cultural value of bringing together men and women to re/learn cultural components necessary for healing from family violence within Aboriginal communities. According to White, Suchowierska and Campbell (2004),  24  Society’s ambivalence toward violence in the family is apparent in the various definitions and interpretations of battering and abuse, including physical aggression toward a child or intimate partner, corporal punishment, harsh parenting, nonaccidental physical injury, assault and crimes against women. (p. Supplement 8) WAVS provides its members with historical and culturally-relevent understandings of the negative repercussions of colonialism. It also explains present-day knowledge about where much of their anger and negative behaviours originate, such as institutional rules from generational forced attendance at residential schools. Newly founded missionary churches began residential schools in Canada in the 1840s. They were later institutionalized by the Indian Act of 1876, which sanctioned government personnel (Ministry of Indian Affairs) to forcibly remove Aboriginal children from their homes and communities. This colonial-decreed isolation prevented them from learning basic parenting skills, cultural traditions and their Native way of life. Many children were subject to physical and mental abuse, which strongly affected their self-worth as they grew up and attempted to parent their own children (Chrisjohn et al., 2006; Lester-Smith (Hill), 2008). Participants reflect upon their residential school experiences in chapters 4 and 5. On behalf of Warriors youth members, many of whom may be first and second generation residential school survivors of older relatives who did attend residential schools, Ryan, iterates, They’re all going through anger in their lives, negative situations that are happening right now. The abuse is happening right now [to and around them]. The youth group leader provides a rich understanding of intervention and sensitivity towards the complexities of being a youth and dealing with violence. Working with Indigenous youth presents challenges in healing since so many young people disproportionally take their own lives (Lester-Smith and Wanyenya, 2011). Nevertheless, positivity is not lost. Warriors' youth are committed to being alive, attending their youth group and facilitating their own healing, as is discussed in chapters 4 and 5.  2.2  The Grandmothers Are With Us There are multiple ways and settings in which Indigenous knowledge can be re/presented,  such as through family, community, work and the university. For instance, on days that my personal methodology of health is not working as effectively as I wish, I think of Marcelle Gareau, a Métis woman I met in Ottawa during the 2009 Aboriginal Policy Research Conference. Offering me encouraging words about the completion of my Master’s of Arts study, Aboriginal Women Living with HIV/AIDS: An Empowerment Perspective, she 25  confirmed, ’The Grandmothers were with you’ (Personal Field Note, March, 2009). I return to Garneau’s gentle wisdom as my own health challenges ebb and flow like a river’s newly born rivulets passing by a static position at every moment in time. Warriors Against Violence Society members are taught an intervention model based on Indigenous, culturally-relevant, traditional healing as primary care. Members seriously relish the traditional/contemporary skills taught to them as meaningful tools with which they can transform their behaviours based on a newfound understanding of the deeply rooted colonial complexities of violence. While there are other family programs in Vancouver that offer anger management skills, WAVS is unique: We talk about the self, where one comes from, their people, their blood memories (Joyce, Personal Communication, January 5, 2010). Unfortunately, not all First Nations peoples strongly identity with their inner wisdom of individuality, of blood memory and ancestral connected-ness, in the ways that he and the other co-facilitators do, as noted by Joe, lead facilitator. There are a big number of different First Nations living here in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver and we help them try and find their own culture, their own spirituality. We respect all ways of life. When the 28 sessions are over, sometimes some of the group men come back and they’ve actually found out where they are from, you know, go back and visit a family member in their own territories. Most of them are stuck and say ‘I am just from Vancouver’ but at the end of the 28 sessions they are able to identify who they are and where they come from and love themselves for who they are as well. (Warriors Against Violence Society Presents: The Journey, DVD, 2000) In the above excerpt I find that Joe is not only speaking about the WAVS philosophy and his Elder teachings towards urban Aboriginal community members, but also to me as a researcher in the midst of grounding myself. Who am I? Or phrased as an Eastern spiritual-contemplation, what did my face look like before I was born? While I may not yet be able to answer what I truly looked like before the present, I can clearly describe my groundedness in other ways. For example, Métis maternal grandmothers are known as Kokum in Michif, a linguistic blend of Cree and French Métis (Campbell, 1973). Leona Juliene Gauthier/Simard, my great-Kokum; Germaine René Marguerite Marie Simard/Ouston), my Kokum; and my mother, Juanita Jane Ouston/Dennison were all excellent cooks. Fortunately, I inherited their culinary gifts. I was raised with many inter-generational recipes such as Baked Beans; Steak and Kidney Pie; Gissantes or Les Grandpéres (Stew and Dumplings); Tourtiére (Christmas French Meat Pies); La Pouchi or Pouchine au Sac or son-of-a-bitch-in-a-sack (my mom’s treasured Christmas Pudding); and Soupe aux Pois (Pea Soup), all of which is found in  26  Barkwell, Durion and Hourie’s book, Métis Legacies (2006). To illustrate a more recent experience of grandmotherly in-spiritedness I share this experience. I require a day surgery procedure and am being put to sleep under general anesthesia. Preparation guidelines dictate that a wedding band may be worn if it cannot be removed. Interestingly, the one ring I can’t remove due to my joint swelling from being fervently worked on is not my marriage ring. Instead, it is an heirloom on my right hand that my grandmother had made from her wedding set diamonds after the deaths of my grandfather from an operation and my step-grandfather from suicide. I smile in understanding—the ring I wear through surgery is my grandmother’s—she and the blessings of her Ancestors, stay with me. ‘The Grandmothers are with me’, I spiritually remind myself as I begin to fade into an anesthesia-induced sleep. (Personal Field Note, February 23, 2012) It is with our ancestral grandmothers that I seek to understand and to contribute to Indigenous theoretical and methodological practices.  2.3  An Overview of Indigenous and Western Philosophical Worldviews For participants and their families the cycle of good health is indeed returning. Within the  greater theoretical framework of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) lie deep within worldviews upon which Indigenous peoples base their ways of knowing. These include Aboriginal storytelling, tradition, beliefs, values, actions, and future possibilities (Archibald, Jovel, McCormick, Vedan and Thira, 2006; Brown, 2004; Castellano, 2000; Graveline, 2002; Marsden 2004; Mehl-Madrona, 2005). Although diversity exists between many tribal, clan, bands and nations of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, there is a common worldview among us that includes bodymind-emotional-spiritual wholism and connection to nature and its connection to harmonious wellness (Dei, 2000; Durie, 2004; Ermine 2004; Kirkness and Barnhardt, 1991, WAVS Manual, 1998). Eastern wisdom is also helpful to understand Indigenous conceptualizations of wholism. Zen wisdom, for example, encompasses the experiential and the reflective aspects of knowledge, rather than predominantly relying on theoretical perspectives. As a researcher I find myself in constant motion of seeking a place in which both can compliment one another (Dumoulin and Heinrich, 2005). Zen considerations about wholism are highlighted by Lee (2000):  27  In Chinese and Japanese thought, there is only one character and one word for heart and mind: the two are the same. It is easy to see the centre of our bodies, hara in Japanese, as the centre of our being. It is a starting point for our feelings and contentment, which radiate outward like the rings of water growing ever larger from a stone dropped into the stillness of water. (p. 32) A worldview is typically more comprehensive than a lens through which to view a particular task, yet as such a perceptive tool of insight, it is a significant starting point. Barnhardt and Kawagely (2005) speak about worldviews more globally: Indigenous peoples throughout the world have sustained their unique worldviews and associated knowledge systems for millennia, even while undergoing major social upheavals as a result of transformative forces beyond their control. Many of the core values, beliefs and practices associated with those worldviews have survived and are beginning to be recognized as having an adaptive integrity that is as valid for today’s generations as it was for generations past. (p. 8) Leroy Little Bear (2000) adds to this discussion of Indigenous core values although he does cast a warning against essentializing any singular worldview: No one has a pure worldview that is 100% Indigenous or Eurocentric; rather, everyone has an integrated mind, a fluxing and ambidextrous consciousness, a precolonized [and a decolonized] consciousness that flows into a colonized consciousness and back again. (p. 85) I cannot be certain to whom the author specifically refers as “everybody”— those who have experienced colonialism and/or to those who have not. Therefore, I believe he speaks about people in general, that both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples and our guiding philosophies can never be fully “100% Indigenous or Eurocentric”. Exact in/exclusivity could likely trouble my/our standpoint throughout this study of our interconnectedness and of our capabilities for understanding, adaptability and relationality to one another. In their colonial/identity considerations, Little Bear, Barnhardt and Kawagely each address some of the fluctuating tensions when defining the basic premises of an Indigenous worldview in terms of fluid colonialism. On the one hand, I agree with Little Bear that our  28  worldviews are never completely pure. On the other, I remain cautious about scholars who quickly dismiss worldviews as ideological essentialism. Ignoring worldviews and their wisdoms becomes further salient in the realization that contemporary healthcare conditions have been shaped for over a century by imposed colonial practices, policies and politics (Kelm, 1998; RCAP, 1996a; Waldram, Herring and Young, 1995). The misguidance of colonial healthcare continues to be evident, particularly through ex/implicit discriminatory practices and structural constraints that marginalize many Aboriginal peoples from the dominant healthcare system (Kondrat, 2002). I speak of marginalize and/or marginalization, not to imply some inherent characteristics associated with particular people or groups, but rather, to refer to peoples who have been most affected by historical, structural and social inequities. Frequently these are people who also experience related disadvantages stemming from mental health, substance mis/use, economic conditions or stigmatizing conditions like HIV/AIDS among other issues arising from profound social inequities. Likewise, Dodson and Struthers (2005) interpret marginalization as “the process by which persons are peripheralized on the basis of their identities, associations, experiences and environments” (p. 339). Finally, Berg, Evans, Fuller and The Okanagan Urban Aboriginal Health Research Collective (2007) note that by extension, “...the marginalization of Aboriginal people in research settings had the somewhat contradictory effect of further marginalizing urban Aboriginal people” (pp. 402-403). Case in point, a number of studies reveal that Aboriginal women face serious access problems stemming from discrimination based on ethnicity, gender and class (Benoit, Carroll and Chaudry, 2003; Dion Stout, Kipling and Stout, 2001; Hill, 2008). As a result, many First Nations peoples do not access mainstream health. Instead, they prefer to access health needs through their local Friendship Centres where they are less apt to be judged and marginalized and more likely to be understood and supported with cultural safety and sensitivities by staff workers (Kurtz, Nyberg, Van Den Tillaat, Mills and The Okanagan Urban Aboriginal Health Research Collective (OUAHRC), 2008). In sections 2.4 through 2.8 I discuss in more detail Indigenous health-knowledges and dominant Western health standards of re/address.  2.4  Indigenous Knowledge Systems Indigenous knowledges, or worldviews, are a philosophical framework that promote ancestral  and present-day Aboriginal knowledges as vital to Aboriginal peoples’ health. Douglas Cardinal and Jeanette Armstrong (1991) teach us,  29  Knowledge is definite. It is definable. The potential of it is what is vast. You and I can always extend our thinking out there past the definable edge. Out there you can soar like an eagle. Creativity comes from the domain out there, the unknown. Once something is created, it comes into the definable realm of things. (p. 54) The essence of worldviews from which Cardinal and Armstrong make meaning of their/our worlds is not only a commonality between diverse Indigenous peoples. It is also of timeless value. Indigenous worldviews include contemporary balanced and harmonious health and ancestral guidance towards our well-being. Indigenous worldviews have existed since time immemorial (Archibald, 2008; Castellano, 2000; Dodson and Struthers, 2005). Indigenous health worldviews are relevant to and effective in Aboriginal communities because they honor the diversity, concerns and suggestions of all Aboriginal peoples, even the most silent and marginalized of voices. An Aboriginal conceptualization of health is in many ways philosophically different than the prevailing euro-centric one. Chief Leonard George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation describes how he merges his Indigenous philosophical views with metaphorical, yet seemingly concrete applications. In Archibald (2008), he explains: I try to use old philosophies as a tool. I call it learning how to become a hunter of the city, using the old philosophy of the hunter in the forest and the respect that he had and using only what you need for that day and taking it out, bringing it back and sharing it with as many people whose needs will be suited by it. This changed my perspective on the city. It is a wonderful resource then—go in and hunt and get things out and bring it back home. (p. 48) WAVS exemplifies this notion of resource-sharing through their traditional knowledges re/appropriated for contemporary pragmatic times. They too, share with as many people as possible. Chief Leonard George’s adaptation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems to suit modern urban living is a testament to the timeless nature of the beliefs upon which Aboriginal peoples have thrived and adapted. IKS, most often learned through the traditional, experiential teachings of Elders who frequently link the past with the present and forward into the future. It is about the land, survival and sustainability and involves the relationship between people and the environment in which they live is extremely inclusive of Mother Nature. While Indigenous Knowledges might be described as somewhat abstract, it is this very fluidity that remains the foundation of IK as an authentic, evolving, sustainable paradigm. Indigenous peoples’ perceptions of wellness encompass notions of wholism  30  whereby a balance of the four interconnected quadrants of living—the spiritual, the emotional, the physical and the intellectual realms—is sought. In this way IK is considered a process, not a product (or an artifact). It is about relationships with the self, family, community and the greater environment in which we live. In my own life IK has shown itself throughout dreams, mentorships, intuition, connectedness with other Aboriginal peoples, nature, spirituality, moral tensions, protocols, responsibilities and my writings, as is evidenced throughout this dissertation. It is important to include IK in health considerations that respectfully benefit the multiple diversities between First Nations peoples and their unique social, structural and historical realities. For example, the following Māori collaborators investigate how research values are used to respectfully conduct research. Within the “Māori and Iwi Provider Success” research project they reveal key considerations helpful to my work with WAVS. First, is the importance of ensuring survival and revival of culture and second is the centrality of self-determining cultural well-being.  2.4.1  A Māori Example of Indigenous Relational Theory and Practice Linda Tuiwai Smith (1999) and other Māori scholars discuss Kaupapa Māori practices that  guide Māori researchers toward learning about and collaborating with Indigenous people and their health, healing and well-being (Pipi, Cram, R. Hawke, S. Hawke, Huriwai, Mataki, Milne, Morgan, Tuhaka, Tuuta, International Research Institute for Māori and Indigenous Education and The University of Auckland, 2004). As an interwoven thread to Smith and her colleagues, I consider my own relational work as somewhat of a protégé parallel to the authors’ culturally-sensitive guiding principles. I believe that we can learn from and draw upon Māori research as parallel example under the IKS theoretical paradigm. 1. He Kanohi Kitea (the seen face) Meeting face-to-face is critical because it allows people to use all their senses as complementary sources of processing information. Indigenous peoples have innate sensorial ways (taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing and ancestral intuitiveness) of learning and knowing: knowing for whom their knowledge is best suited, for instance.  2. Titiro, Whakarongo…Kōrero (look, listen, speak) This practice re/enforces the process whereby the researcher’s role is one of watching, listening, learning and waiting until it is appropriate to speak by helping to show respect  31  and develop trust in the growing relationship between researcher and participant(s).  3. Aroha kit e Tangata (respect for people) Within the Māori and Iwi Provider Success (MIPS) project, support and guidance did not come from kaumātua3 directly but from very politically astute and well respected local Māori women – the regional coordinators. The engagement of regional coordinators also meant that the project was responsive to regional differences.  4. Manaaki kit e Tangata (sharing and generosity) This practical value reinforces that Indigenous research must be collaborative and reciprocal. It also acknowledges that learning and expertise exist in both parties. In this Māori study, “critical friend[s]” (p. 149), (the regional coordinators) provided feedback by probing and shared information in addition to the researchers who provide assistance by way of reciprocity.  5. Kia Tupato (be cautious) Kia tupato is about being culturally safe and reflexive about our “insider/outsider status” (p. 149). Each examined the research project thoroughly, raised questions about process, integrity and ethics, before engaging with the researchers. They had to be sure that they were the right people to assist and support the researchers and they also had to be confident that this project would benefit their region. The engagement of regional coordinators also meant that the project was responsive to regional differences.  6. Kaua e Takahia te Mana o te Tangata (do not trample the mana of the people) This last Māori principle is about sounding out ideas, disseminating research findings and acquiring community feedback that keeps people informed about research processes and findings. It is also about relational practices and relational ethics. Involvement of the regional coordinators was necessary to maintain credibility within Māori communities;  3  In Māori culture, a Kaumātua is an Elder who speaks with honesty and integrity, through his or her words and deeds. For other Māori teachings and translations, see http://www.maori.org.nz/tikanga/default.asp?pid=sp101andparent=104.  32  they acted as researchers within their region, as well as kept community providers informed on process and findings. (Pipi et al., 2004). With the commonsensical and ‘good medicine’ of my/our ancestral guidance, I highlight next, how Indigenous inherent knowledges can be understood in both traditional and contemporary ways of healing (i.e. through traditional philosophies and cultural practices) in Vancouver, Canada. Dion Stout (2009) reminds us that understanding life is a journey of nurturing positive Aboriginal self-identities and utilizing ancestral teachings. I now explore ways in which the WAVS organization presents itself to its members and I in similar ways of Māori co-learners and co-researchers who have gone before me.  2.4.2  My Work as Similar to the Māori Example 1. What and for whom? (the seen face) During my first Aboriginal Community Guidance Committee in September 2009, we meet one another’s ‘un/seen faces’. Members ask me to consider the following:  •  Focus on the significance of the Aboriginal healing circle (i.e. its very shape in comparison to other gatherings, community agencies and then its layers of meaning);  •  Understanding the circle as an entity of trust, authenticity and a method for problemsolving;  •  Understand my role at WAVS: Joe and Joyce have reminded me often that if I am to work with them, I am to fully participate as a member of their client-centered healing groups;  •  Define the Aboriginal circle in contrast to other circles (non-Aboriginal or other community agencies). Why does the tradition of the Aboriginal circle work? Who leads the circle? How is it led?  •  Explore some of the lack of commonsense that many policies and agencies do not exhibit (i.e. the Canadian government names a department, the “British Columbia Federation of Aboriginal Foster Parents” but not allow Aboriginal parents and community members to share in its direction); and  •  Value Western thought as necessary: I keep in mind Joe’s guidance that it is a good thing to learn those ways too. (Guidance Committee Field Note, October 2, 2009). 33  WAVS traditional philosophies and methodologies show that learning ancestral ways of concentrically balanced wholeness positively affects the wellness of past and present clients and their families (community oral testimonies and member evaluation forms). 2. Why? (look, listen, speak) A primary outcome of my/our study is the discovery of some of the transformative values of policy changes necessary to the well-being of Aboriginal families struggling to heal from domestic violence. By keeping my What-Who/Why/How/Where/So what/Now what framework in the forefront of my study methodology I can better manage the integrity and quality of our research and its successful outcomes. The intent of our community collaborative endeavor to reach recommendations based on respectful questions and actions designed also means to affirm, to acknowledge, to support, to validate, to challenge and to clarify (Pipi et al., 2004) health matters related to diminishing violence in Aboriginal families. This is demonstrated through the multitude of programs WAVS is dedicated to providing for its clients. Illustratively, in 2009 the agency partnered with the Urban Aboriginal Youth Association to share funding targeted for the well-being of youth. According to WAVS, “Witnessing [violence] is not necessarily seeing directly, although many more children see the violence than parents think” (WAVS, 1998, p. 45). Ramifications of ‘witnessing’ include social, emotional, physical and intellectual behavioural choices and effects. If we consider the Medicine Wheel as an evolving harmonious theoretical health framework, then a category of each quadrant can commonsensically fit here too. East as social/spiritual, South as emotional, West as physical and North as intellectual/behavioral. Our task remains how might Aboriginal peoples learn and then accomplish a balanced healing journey? WAVS is one such urban Aboriginal service provider that exemplifies an Indigenous traditional path to wholistic healing and health and the fact that one particular Monday meeting night (April 19, 2010) became standing room only holds poignancy for me. 3. How? (sharing and generosity) WAVS devotes large amounts of discussion time about healing principles such as safety, responsibility, respect and cooperation. Each of these subheadings has a number of relational points of value that the facilitators impart and that I explore more fully. Relational and adaptable practices offered at WAVS include teachings about past and present Aboriginal healing methods like understanding the five cornerstone components  34  of Family of Origin, Stress, Social/Cultural, Unknown Factors, and Feelings, as I have previously discussed. Healing is discussed among WAVS facilitators and clients as recognizing in Aboriginal families defining violence; learning where the contemporary actions of violence originate (predominantly through negative legacies of colonialism); teaching Aboriginal values and traditions; and offering the reclamation and pride of Aboriginal ways of knowing and being. 4. How/Why/Where? (be cautious) A balance of expertise is vital to any authentic research, projects in which leaders value sharing collective knowledge and wisdom. Case in point, when I invite members of my Community Committee to guide me throughout my doctoral studies I consider community-diversified roles as imperative to the guidance I might most need. All of my mentors are of Indigenous heritage—Status or Non-Status First Nation and Métis. Their roles and experiences within our urban community include the fields of human resources, social work and executive director; a Vancouver Police Department Liaison Officer; a university graduate-student youth worker; a UBC-graduate psychologist; and traditional teachers and Knowledge Keepers (a community Mentor/Elder and WAVS cofounders and co-facilitators). I would add one key experience about the notion of where. In a past study I worked on, the non-Aboriginal principal investigator (PI) of a community-based research study insisted that community advisory team meetings be held in the community. She decided on a specific Downtown Eastside location. The project manager visited the site to confirm appropriateness and capacity and reported that the room on location was the small lobby space just inside the front door that offered no privacy from incoming clients and could not comfortably accommodate more than six people around the table. Despite the best intentions of the post-doctoral team manager the PI insisted. On the day of the meeting the PI was thirty minutes late because she ‘could not find the place’ and at least twelve meeting members arrived and had to literally crawl over and squeeze behind one another throughout the course of the meeting. One attendee later asked me, ‘So, what? Aboriginal people are not allowed to have a comfortable meeting room?’ (Personal Field Note, March 7, 2008). 5. So What: Implications (respect for people) WAVS has multiple insider/outsider challenges to benefiting the needs of its community, particularly the lack of government funding for family violence services, especially for  35  men's programs. Patriarchal attitudes continue to pervade Aboriginal health politics and healing leadership. Government funding policy-makers, primarily dedicated to women and children have yet to fully understand that traditional Indigenous healing practices must be inclusive of the entire family. Instead it could be argued that they do not have full ‘respect for the people’ and consequently ‘trample on the values of the people’. 6. Now What: Recommendations (do not trample the mana of the people) The essence of the Kaupapa Māori Health Research Paradigm is one of authentic relationality and adaptability. Māori research is comprised of Indigenous theoretical and methodological healthcare practices. On Eastern Canadian lands, Cheryl Turton (1997) writes, “The concern for health touche[s] every corner of traditional Ojibwe religion, as it pervade[s] Ojibwe life” (p. 144). Indigenous wholism and wellness is the necessary and perhaps the only spiritual medicine that is pervasive in a positive sense for Aboriginal peoples to heal from colonial violence and to remain healthy.  2.5  The WAVS Philosophy All peoples know a lot, one set of people does not know everything. Indigenous Peoples can engage in dialogue, learn from each other and grow stronger as part of a vast diversity of Indigenous peoples and knowledge systems. Through respectful engagement and sharing, generating understanding and appreciation for the diversity of peoples and cultures new ideas form, paradigm shifts occur and networks expand. Webs of sustainable relationships are created. (Cohen, 2010, p. 142) WAVS introduces a number of interventional ‘best practices’ whereby members can begin to  discover their awareness and oftentimes painful appreciation for generating understanding of oppressively-rooted anger. Included are also wholeness and wellness within their intervention model of healing. Strides are being made with such teachings as taking personal ownership of the violence one inflicts on another person; building on personal strengths; pragmatically sharing comprehensive familial experiences; traditional humility; cultural teachings; and engaging members’ voices by heartfelt demonstrations of trust, confidentiality, listening, understanding and Aboriginal storytelling. By focusing on the sharing/learning traditions of group-meeting sharing circles, members learn ways to heal traditionally, contemporarily and wholistically. “The Helping Circle,” for instance, was a counselling program developed by France and McCormick (1997) at the First Nations House of  36  Learning at The University of British Columbia (UBC). The model was designed to be culturallyrelevant and to combine a number of traditional cultural methods such as the figurative Medicine Wheel, legends and nature with current counselling practices. In many traditional sharing circles a sacred eagle feather or an Aboriginal carved ‘talking stick’ is passed around the circle. Customarily, the person holding the sacred item is the only speaker at the time while all others respectfully listen and remain silent until their turn. When done respectfully, circle participation reflects the basic traditional and philosophical worldview of Aboriginal peoples regardless of whether it is done from a healing perspective, as a teaching approach or as a path to problem solving. The WAVS intervention model rests on the cornerstone that traditional healing practices are paramount to a strong sense of health and wellness. Many Aboriginal peoples believe that First Nations peoples are spiritually connected to one another in health and in disease. David, a participant in this study, explains his own health observations in terms of his seemingly vital spirituality: I sacrifice ... I fast twice a year, four days, four nights. And I’ve always done this for my grandchildren. It’s not because I don’t have a good life but they understand the culture and that’s what it’s about. It’s not about me trying to get magic or trying to be somebody when I’m not. Maybe the words are strong what I say because I speak the truth… Every year I go sit on a mountain for four days, four nights. I don’t eat or drink water. For all the damage I’ve done in my life, the mistakes. I ask [Creator] if I can release; I ask for forgiveness. I’m not a pretender about spirituality. Spirituality … even when I was using ... drugging and 4  using, I still went to sweats (December 7, 2010) The above Vision Quest explanation is just one personal healing ceremony that can demonstrate an active reclamation of cathartic, spiritual tradition as a powerful force throughout one’s life. Another traditional ceremony is the Powwow, transformed into contemporary, communal celebration of wellness. Although some aspects of this connective gathering have been adapted such as setting like land space and/or indoor gymnasiums and halls; fundraising events and monetary competitions; and the healing benefits of Powwows remain traditional. They re/present an active  5  Sweat Lodges or Sweats as they are sometimes referred to, are a ceremonial sauna and often an important event in some North American First Nations or Native American cultures. There are several styles of sweat lodges that include a domed or oblong hut or a simple hole dug into the ground and covered with planks or tree trunks. Stones are typically heated in a nearby exterior fire and then placed in a central pit in the ground. Rituals and traditions vary from region to region and from tribe to tribe. They often include prayers, drumming and offerings to the spirit world (Bruchac, 1993; Clark, 2003).  37  pathway to balanced health. Social gatherings and connectedness provide spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional wellness through song, dance, feasts and traditional regalia making and story sharing. Other culturally-relevant health practices may include belief in the symbolic Medicine Wheel teachings encouraged by WAVS inclusive of the four health realms: physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional aspects of our well-being. Medicine Wheels can be important methods for “looking after ourselves in a well-balanced way and the rewards can be achieved by doing this [i.e., compassion, respect, acceptance, pride, strength, kindness, firmness]” (WAVS, p. 51). Leslie designates the Medicine Wheel as a personal tool: I’ve adopted it as a part of my tool kit so that I use that as something that helps me to stay healthy. It’s like if you go to university and you have a university degree that helps to correct a lot of your behaviour in a lifetime, then that’s what it is—it’s a tool. A very personal tool that you’re able to incorporate into your lifetime. (December 1, 2010) Throughout life we need to examine our ‘tool kits’ and decide whether the instruments within are beneficial. The WAVS model assists members to understand what learned mechanisms and behaviours they must un/learn in order to create the mind-place to gain newer, more helpful thoughts and actions for each of our four health quadrants. To heal means to restore the body to wholeness and soundness. Wounded-recovery also involves a spiritual sense of health and well-being and of ‘blood memory’ as Holmes (2000) and WAVS co-facilitators suggest. With their assistance I can more fully articulate my perceptions about present-day Indigenous peoples’ search for balanced healing through our self(ves), ancestors, family and community members. Participants in McCormick’s (1994) dissertation, The Facilitation of Healing for First Nations people of British Columbia, identify ten ways Aboriginal peoples can experience healing, all of which can be found in an urban setting in which participants live. My bracketed experiential additions follow each point.  •  Establish social connections (personal and professional);  •  Anchor oneself in tradition (Elder guidance, beliefs, arts, music, dance);  •  Consider self-care (diet, exercise, mindfulness, honouring relations with ourselves, traditional medicines, ways of being);  •  Express feelings and emotions (seeking those what, how and why questions and answers);  •  Ask for support from others (as naturally happens in WAVS sharing circles); 38  •  Participation in ceremonies (Sweats, Smudging and other cleansing celebrations);  •  Set goals (attainable and yet challenging ones);  •  Help others (responsibly, so as not to impede our own self-care);  •  Gain an understanding of the problem (what, how, why, impacts and solutions); and  •  Learn from a role model (mentors, Elders, educators and traditional teachers).  To facilitate healing from the imperative lack of self/collective connection in many urban Aboriginal peoples, WAVS offers supportive traditional modes like the talking circle. Talking or sharing circles provide a safe and respectful space in which all members are given the chance to share their points of view with others without fear of criticism or judgment. The circular setting ensures participant respect, encouragement and equality whereby no one person sits at the ‘head’ or any less meaningful side-positions of a standard boardroom-meeting-style table. Michael, both a participant and a member of my Aboriginal Community Guidance Committee describes WAVS’ non-judgmental healing circles in this way: It`s not where you’ve been but where you’re going: that support we give one another in the WAVS groups. It’s about the importance of men learning how to communicate (December 9, 2012). About the safety of the sharing circle, honesty helps the participants. They share stories; they realize they are not alone. Communal healing can include realizing we are not alone and that practices may vary between diversities of Aboriginal peoples. Traditional Aboriginal community circles/gatherings were meant for solving difficulties and ‘humbling ourselves’ (Joyce, Personal Communication, September 29, 2009). For many Aboriginal peoples, urban living creates an inexpressible gap in our selves, our centres of being. It is a kind of knowing and sensing that something is missing but not being able to describe it. Connectedness to other urban First Nations peoples helps to heal this loss. To grow and to know ourselves and one another as engaging community members is to understand ourselves in wholistic ways throughout our past/present/future journeys. One particular excursion I made with a few members at Warriors was to participate in their intensive 4-week Facilitator Training course (March 2010). I mention this as a way of describing in a condensed manner more key components of the WAVS model of violence intervention via my answers to our final exam questions. The original 10 test questions, abbreviated in bold, can be deduced from my answers. 1. Meeting check-ins allow and teach clients to turn inward, to learn new ‘feeling’ words (to describe their emotions), facilitators can assess if a client needs assistance outside a particular group night if a crisis has been expressed. Check-in also role models for other 39  clients’ respect as each one learns to share and to learn from others in the group that they are not alone. 2. Time-out is taught as a tool to diffuse moments of anger. To step back, listen to one’s cues, triggers, actions, self-talk and to head anger off at the path. Receivers of negative thoughts and impending violence is not the one to call for time-out. They do need to have a control plan in place to be safe at all times, but the goal of time-out is for the offender to learn his/her cues, red flags, etc. and to take responsibility for themself. Not for their partner to be the one to set a time-out for them. 3. Rules of time-out include avoiding all physical labour like chopping wood, boxing bags or seemingly harmless gun target practice in a field. These are all aggressive actions and build up aggression and heightened emotions. They can turn into visualized targets of ‘pretend my partner is the source’ and therefore the abuser can still aggressively express anger towards their partner in a symbolic way. None of these aggressive actions are best for a passive, restful and reflective, self-responsible time-out. Ideas for time-out include leaving the home, walks, calling a friend, cooling down, taking care of self and reflecting on self and other as to what might have escalated a particular situation. 4. A control plan means if the party being abused can see the situation becoming more real, can have as preparatory quick, safe route to exit the home: a little savings, bus money, personal documents or photocopies, emergency numbers written down or memorized, a change of clothes, a journal about past experiences, to keep in hiding in the home or with parents or with a good friend. A control plan is about everything necessary at a moment’s notice for if or when an abused partner needs to leave for safety. And last, knowing the cues: physical escalations, harmful words, name calling, imagining one hurting a person, blaming another for causing the abuser to feel this anger, building up to sweating, high heart rates, misguided thinking. 5. Emotional cues include name-calling, bribing, threatening, allowing buttons to be pushed, hitting those buttons in another, belittling and blaming. Threats include not acting in good faith, idenying responsibility for being violent, blaming (if only you ... I would not get so angry) and threatening of loss of children to spouse or the Ministry.  40  6. Stress factors leading to violence can be historical possibilities like residential school, loss of generations of parenting skills, Western dominance, discrimination, growing up within all of this, racism, witnessing abuse, family history, war, past traumas, learned patriarchal power trips and Western ideas of people being owned, loss of land, family, cultural beliefs and practices, Elder teachings, alcohol and drugs to numb the pain, lack of belonging, following the crowd and not knowing why we are angry. But through taking responsibility of one’s own actions, people can find out why and then decide to begin healing. 7. Self-talk is a cue, both good and bad. A cue of awareness can be: I see my bodily red flags going off, can I sense I need a time out, am I escalating in my negative self talk about my partner, about myself too, I was a child, I did not deserve that but how can I talk about it and heal and be more positive for my family and community. As above, self talk also includes imagination, can I see myself hurting another? Learning to be aware self talk can help someone to not be violent and also to self talk positively, about self esteem and healing from thinking unworthiness of being able to be safe and without violence on one’s life. 8. Self-care and prevention involves learning that self matters most, loving self and only then can other relationships be or become healthy. Examples include following the symbolic Medicine Wheel to keep balance and harmony in all of one’s life; home and work; and walking the talk; healing, holism of self, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. If one dimension seems out of focus, work as needed to bring that area back into balance with traditional holistic wellness and healing. 9. Most violence is from men because of the way colonization has belittled them and lied to them about how men oppress and own others. Myths include: strong men don’t cry or feel hurt or tell anyone of their own abuses and that women are to be owned like property and be there for sex, raising the family and being the target of men’s anger. A difficulty lies in teaching men to be responsible for their own actions, to learn the what, why and how of their past and present and to move forward to healing with honesty and honour and respect for women as cultural tradition once taught (by ancestors). Even if only 10% of women become violent, this is still a concern. Both genders, both statistics are  41  alarming. Men and woman alike deserve to understand colonization and its negative, personal influences and to heal from it. 10. Meeting checkouts provide learning for both clients and facilitators. What did they learn, what stood out most or what practice can they go try and put to good use? But also, what might have triggered them, how are they going to take care of themselves when upset? Call a friend, go home to partner, hot bath, warm and comforting food, understanding, supportive and soothing friendships or call a counsellor. Facilitators watch for check out comments too: is intervention needed? What spoken stories at the end of group raise red flags leading facilitators to contact authorities or social workers, offer referrals, or stay late to privately discuss such ideas with the client. Trust, honour and appreciate others’ ideas and shared stories are in closings. Check-outs are also a deep breath, leaving spoken words of bad medicine (violence) behind in the room to dissolve, in order to discuss future steps towards healing (one baby step at a time). The WAVS philosophy about learning from a perspective of where, how and why presentday physical and emotional aggressions stem is key to healthy, inter-related living. Elder Sara Modeste tells us, “They [Aboriginal peoples] don’t know why, where they get this pain from. They get it from the residential school and literally from the Government of Canada” (Interview, www.hiddenfrom history.org). Patrick, a participant, explains his emerging awareness of health perspectives from Warriors. I remember the first day that I got there, I felt at home right away because here they were talking in a circle and when it got to me I let out a little bit of tears. Stating, ‘I’m a survivor of residential school and I have a lot of anger issues and I don’t know how to have a relationship’. (February 1, 2011) Patrick demonstrates how vital a traditional sharing circle can be to acknowledgement of past and present systemic, institutional violence. More participant experiences with residential schools are explored in chapters 4 and 5. As he and other participants indicate, the cultural familiarity of a sharing circle is a welcoming and safe place for many members to begin their infinite processes of understanding and coping with their relational past and adaptable present and future. Ultimately, awakening towards healing must be by choice—by learning active and viable non-violent behaviours.  42  New ways of coping must be about courageously revisiting historical secrets of either victimization or perpetrator behaviours. David explains: I didn’t want to be responsible of my own behaviors. I always carried a secret. We talk about that in Warriors ... secrets, yeah. [Thinking that] Nobody’s going to know about my secret ... about my anger, my abuse. How people treated me as a child and I always carried that. But I let it go, I worked on it and I released it. I wanted to be a different person. (December 7, 2010) I ask Melanie, a single mother, What is that like for you, when no one keeps secrets in your family? It feels like I’ve got some kind of trust and connection and it’s really important that when we talk about what we talk about, we smudge and we pray. We do things between us now and take care of our spiritual and – smudging. So that’s what I do with my kids. (January 10, 2011) To contextualize Melanie’s newer familial rituals, it is important to identify crucial aspects of familial violence in order to gain a better understanding of causes and solutions.  2.6  Western Knowledge And Health In order to fully understand the Indigenous paths I journey in my research with WAVS I must  seek knowledge about Western health theory and health practices. Lori Alvord and Elizabeth Cohen Van Pelt (1999) invite us to further explore the commonsensical natures of our values, choices and actions. “We must treat our patients the same way we would treat our own relatives. We must find what has been lost as we have become so enraptured with scientific advancements: working with communities and creating bonds of trust and harmony” (p. 16). Many non-Indigenous peoples and institutions in Canada are conditioned by the Western paradigm to think a certain way about life and health, the environment, education and Indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, such ways often fail to enhance bonds of trust and harmony. Berg, Evans, Fuller and The Okanagan Urban Aboriginal Health Research Collective (OUAHRC) (2007) highlight some of the bureaucratic structures and the interplay of racism, place and institutional ethics involved in establishing a research project with  43  Aboriginal urban communities. The team investigates important issues of ethical policies of federal health grant-affording institutions such as the Social Science Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Oftentimes funders continue to further marginalize urban Aboriginal peoples, along with influences of power relations about ethics in Aboriginal research, particularly within the wider spectrum of mainstream investigation. Western health practices originated in Canada with settler Europeans, Fur Traders, Clergy and newly trained doctors and nurses. Over the years Aboriginal peoples began experiencing the Euro-centric health practices’ negative impacts of poverty, crowded and inadequate housing, high rates of substance misuse, inefficient dietary needs and increased homicide and suicide rates (National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO), 2008). Such Western-driven impacts prove to be in opposition to Aboriginal peoples’ traditional ways of healthy living. Presently, mainstream healthcare remains culturally-insensitive and unsafe for many because many healthcare providers do not understand the vital health impacts that lack of Native healing practices present to many Aboriginal persons (Levin and Herbert, 2004; Polaschek, 1998). To name some of the health disparities between Euro-western and First Nations peoples, Aboriginal people die sooner than nonAboriginals and have a greater burden of physical and intellectual disease (RCAP, 1996; Dion Stout et al., 2001). Heart disease is 1.5 times higher for Aboriginal peoples, and Type-2 diabetes remains three to five times higher (Health Canada, 2006). Indigenous health systems inclusive of their own philosophies and traditional practices are shaped by particular theoretical paradigms or worldviews such as the Medicine Wheel’s interconnected realms of harmonious well-being. The dominant approach to health and healthcare in North America is known as biomedicine, formed from within a Western perspective and based heavily on Western science (Lester-Smith (Hill) and Fridkin, (m.s.) 2008). Upon my survey of lesser known Western models of health, my discovery has yielded literature titled “Biomedicine Examined (Lock, 1988); “Chinese medicinal materials and their interface with Western medical concepts” (Chan, 2005); “Asian versus western differences in satisfaction with western medical care: the mediational effects of illness attributions” (Armstrong, 1999); “Physicians of Western medicine: anthropological approaches to theory and practice” (Haun, 1985); “Unbearable weight: Feminism, Western culture and the body” (Bordo, 2004); “The treatment of modern Western medical diseases with Chinese medicine: a textbook and clinical manual” (Flaws, 2002); and “Cultural context of medical practice” (Clark, 1983). Unfortunately, none of these publications offer insights as to the plurality of Western practiced biomedicine paradigms. Biomedicine emphasizes a reductionist science whereby the body, mind and spirit are separate and distinct. The body is fragmented into smaller segments, and supposed that each part can be ‘fixed’ when ‘broken’ (Engebretson, 1994). Illnesses and health conditions are treated as the  44  breaking down of separate biological entities and depending on which part ‘malfunctions’, a corresponding specialist doctor diagnoses and treats what needs ‘fixing’ based on their area of expertise in one or more aspects of the body. For example, a patient may see a cardiologist to treat a heart condition and then separately see a dermatologist to treat a skin condition. The process of distilling Indigenous and Western values does not free me from the tensions of such binaries. Similar to what Joe teaches, that we need both Western and Indigenous knowledge in order to compliment one another for the betterment of societal wellbeing. My doctoral supervisor, Dr. Jo-ann Archibald and committee members Drs. Peter Cole, and Hartej Gill also caution against setting up adversarial binaries when constructing frameworks for research. To do credit to the Western model of health, seeing a dermatologist might be much more helpful than seeing a general practitioner if in that particular condition the only part that needed treating were the skin. However, it would be more helpful to seek a healer with a more wholistic diagnosis if the problem itself were wholistic—if the skin rash were only the tip of the iceberg, one symptom of a more serious health condition affecting many parts of the body. In this case, a topical treatment of the rash would not cure the entire ailment. For example, disease can be compared with trauma one carries along as a person with alcoholic parents; the rash can be compared to the outward manifestation of that trauma, which may be alcoholism. Regulating alcoholism in ways instructed by a Western ‘12-step’ or similar program, which targets only the alcoholism is unlikely to offer wholistically effective means of healing as understood through a n Indigenous lens as participants and I position throughout my/our work. I learn from Donna, a Caucasian participant who has been together with Patrick, also a participant, for twelve years. As part of her individual and relational awareness, she tells me her comparative concerns about Aboriginal health challenges and healing resources: The AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] 12-step model works for some people, not for everybody. It’s very clear in its focus of what it’s trying to do, it wants to help people to quit using drugs or quit drinking alcohol and if you follow the 12 steps, you should be able to accomplish this. It’s pretty formulaic. Whereas at Warriors it’s not formulaic. (December 3, 2010) Far from AA conventions, David discusses how WAVS helps participants reveal their ‘secrets’ in order to unwind their destructive cycles, whereas conventional programs may not have the same cultural tools to encourage people to share and reflect on the real roots— historical, social and familial —of the problems they face as adults.  45  Mainstream’s different … when we go to AA we just talk about ourselves; how we make that change from not taking that first drink or that first drug. But Warriors Against Violence, they gave me something I could take and hold to and when I feel uncomfortable I can take a ‘timeout’ or just look at it ... It’s mostly about feeling. ‘How come I’m feeling like this?’ (December 8, 2010) Taking a ‘time-out’ when feeling angry and even more so when experiencing escalating anger, is a key part of the WAVS ‘Control Plan’ intervention strategy previously mentioned in my WAVS training- exam question, number 4, and to be discussed in more detail in Chapter 5.  2.7  Healing Ways Of Being Among Urban Aboriginal Families As I move towards affirming the detrimental impacts that violence has on Aboriginal families  and their communities, I often feel cautious about re/presenting peoples’ experiences through Western standards of statistical presentations and analysis. On the one hand, numerically measured statistics facilitate more understanding about a particular group of people in order to highlight awareness, immediacy and thus emancipation. On the other hand, announcing statistical data can enforce stereotypical judgment and subsequently deeper levels of marginalization on the basis of ethnicity, poverty, societal exclusion, disconnect and dehumanization, as is often the case for many Aboriginal peoples (Lester-Smith (Hill) and Kurtz, 2008). Nevertheless, I feel compelled to re/present a brief numerical understanding here and in other relevant chapters in order to broaden my/our intergenerational cognizance about urban Aboriginal peoples’ health in the face of violence. The necessity for doing so can be elicited in Gail’s inter-generational experience: Not only was the violence there for my Mom’s generation but also my grandmother’s generation. I mean, people said my grandmother was not normal but now I’ve heard some of the stories. My mother told me about how my grandmother—we had a staircase going up in the house and she’d put cornflakes on the stairwell, put cheesecloth over [them] and then soaked it in kerosene. When my grandpa was going to come home she was going to torch it, so he’d be in the stairwell. But one of my uncles came to his senses—well, we’d all die [original voice emphasis] because we were upstairs and had no escape. It was then they decided she was crazy. But it was the violence. They always had guns and knives with them and one uncle stabbed another. (December 9, 2010)  46  M. too, shares with me a similar experience, whereby intuitive logic falls astray during opportunistic moments of seeking immediate refuge from long-term suffering. Her nearly unimaginable story extracts from me only the barest of conversational acknowledgements. I’ll tell you what was the straw that broke the camel’s back in that relationship. I got to the point where I couldn’t kill him, so I started thinking, ‘Well, maybe I’ll kill myself.’ And I thought, ‘I can’t kill myself if I don’t kill the girls because who will take care of them? Who will love them as much as I do?’ I don’t want them to be in foster care like I was because [foster care people] didn’t love me, so they’re not going to love them. No one loves them as much as I do. And if I kill myself, they’ll be heartbroken, so I’m going to have to kill them, too. So I waited until they napped and uh, I had it all planned out. While they had a nap, I repeat. I had it all planned out. [Child’s name] was going to go first because she was a light sleeper. So I couldn’t very well kill my younger daughter first because the older daughter would wake up and I wouldn’t be able to kill her if she was awake. So I decided I was going to have to kill her first. And my younger daughter could sleep through a train going through the house and she wouldn’t wake up. So I was going to kill her and then myself. So I went to my room, I was really tired because the whole plan made me exhausted, so I lay down for awhile and I must have fell asleep and I woke up and I thought, ‘Ok, it’s time to do it.’ So I grabbed the gun and walked into their room and my older daughter was gone. Wrecked my plan. So I went to look, she usually naps for a very long time but that day she didn’t, she woke up earlier than usual and she was out in the backyard, so I couldn’t very well kill her in the backyard before I killed my younger one because it was just too awkward. So I changed my mind. I phoned my mother-in-law and I said, ‘You’d better come over and get these girls, I just about killed them.’ She made it to my place in half an hour and it was a three-quarter of an hour’s drive. And, I went into – I must have went into shock because for two weeks I couldn’t even get up. She left her son to look after me and he had to pour tea down my throat because I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t do anything. She kept my daughters for two weeks. So finally, after two weeks I thought, ‘I can’t lay here forever.’ I thought, ‘I need my daughters back.’ So I got up, even though I was really, really weak and I hadn’t eaten in all this time. Yes?  47  I was so heartbroken. He had to help me to the bathroom. He had to help me with my pants down so I could pee, he’s my brother-in-law but I didn’t even care. I almost killed my girls. So after that, I could barely pick up the pen and I said, ‘Could you get my checkbook for me? I want you to get my checkbook and go to the store and get me some –.’ so I wrote him a list and I said, ‘I’ll give you this blank check, you go write a check for all this food.’ It’s all food – grocery because when you invite people over, you have to feed them. Right, I nod. So, I got up and I had some (inaudible) and I forced myself to get cleaned up and when he came back, I cooked. My mother-in-law and my brother-in-law brought the girls back. Oh, they were so happy to see me. That was medicine, to see those happy girls’ faces. Ah, ‘good medicine’, I confirm. Yeah, and my mother-in-law was so happy that I was up again. She never said anything about what I almost did. She never judged me, she left my girls with me because she knew they’d be alright. She never even questioned me. And she didn’t have to. I decided this is not doing me any good. So I left [my husband]. My spirit was broken. (March 3, 2011) Gail and M. both offer a glimpse into what ensuring tragedies are possible when familial matriarchs like our grandmothers and/or community Elders lose their bearings. Internal combustion of the self, the wholistic system of self/ves and the family collapses. Inter-familial violence becomes normalized regardless of ir/rationality. Stories of life, of pain and of resilience are shared and discussed among WAVS members, facilitators, study participants and me from which we connectively learn to shift from our violent past, our present, and too often, our plausible future. Violence against Aboriginal women “ranges widely, from 25% to 100%” depending on methodological factors (Brownridge, 2003, p. 66). Spousal homicide statistics show that Aboriginal women in Canada are eight times more likely than non-Aboriginal men to be killed by their partner (Trainor and Mihroean, 2001). The greater likelihood of spousal violence among Canadian Aboriginal peoples, as well as violence in general is also reflected in their disproportionate representation in Canada’s correctional institutions (Weinrath, 2000). Although Aboriginal peoples represent 3% of the Canadian population, they make up 17% of federal inmates (Brownridge, 2003). In Brownridge’s (2008) article, Understanding the Elevated Risk of Partner Violence against  48  Aboriginal Women, participants reveal violence as their largest concern above other important health matters such as substance abuse, diabetes, Fatal Alcohol Syndrome, mental illness and historical traumas. WAVS and I collaboratively explore such necessities as the aforementioned health factors to counter the disparity between urban Aboriginal people’s experiences of violence and the experiences of those who do not identify with family violence. Melanie discusses ways of ‘letting go’ of her childhood traumas. Her learnings have propelled her to recently celebrate her 2-year anniversary of sobriety. About the benefits of WAVS in her life, she says her healing process has begun by Just talking about every day things that go through our minds… things that hurt us. For myself, [healing is] being able to relieve myself of shortcomings and all these obstacles that help us learn about ourselves. The WAVS worldview seems a cultural conduit. They allow for the passage of Indigenous epistemologies to members. To many Indigenous peoples, who for various reasons have not been exposed to or partaken in Indigenous culture, traditional awareness can be a profound addition to their lives. Learning about the unique, yet all too comparable stories expressed in this study, can lead to a better understanding of the social conditions in which many Aboriginal peoples live and thus, to a decrease in violent attitudes and behaviours. It is important to define not only cultural concepts but also those of violence so readers and I have the same foundational information from which to view this in-depth study. LaRocque (1994) defines violence as part of the process of colonization; “Aboriginal men have internalized White male devaluation of women” (p. 75). Patriarchal dominating behaviour has been shown to increase the likelihood of violence against women in Canada; therefore, “it is hypothesized that partners of Aboriginal women will engage in patriarchal domination and that patriarchal domination will be linked to an increased likelihood of violence” (p. 69). In my opinion, by focusing primarily on violence towards women LaRoque appears to overlook a greater reality: men and women can be both the perpetrators and/or the recipients of familial violence. To date, WAVS has served over 100 female perpetrators, about eight to 10 women a year (Joyce, Personal Communication, February 2, 2012). Stake (2004) persuades: “Generalization can be an unconscious process for both researcher and reader” (p. 44). Therefore, my/our project seeks a position along a continuum of generalizability— while the researcher, participants and readers cannot claim that all urban Aboriginal peoples are living within and/or healing from family violence experience. We can infer, however, that some of their living situations may be common. In work such as ours a certain degree of essentialism is beneficial. Learning about the unique, yet all too comparable stories expressed in this study can lead to a better understanding of the social conditions in which many Aboriginal peoples live and thus, to a decrease in violent attitudes and behaviours. Ultimately, healing must be by choice, by need and by learning active, viable non-violent actions. Joyce confirms,  49  Years ago when we had a woman come in, she spoke and when she told her story [it turns out] she’s a violent person. So at that point, the other facilitator, we kind of said, ‘we need to talk’. Maybe for this person, this isn’t the place for her. We thought there was something going on in this person’s life where she needed clinical help. And lots of times we’re not able to provide that you know, that’s part of [the healing] also. She came back though and said, ‘I’m ready to take the program now.’ And she got her children back and had another child with her partner. And had a whole different look in her face, in her demeanor, in how she carried herself. It was so noticeable. Sometimes you’re just not capable and you need to step back and receive other help first. But the seed was planted and you know, she came back. (December 15, 2011) As an observing participant at WAVS I notice a particular woman is often distraught with emotions about her familial past, her grown children and her young grandson presently living in foster care. To me she exemplifies a member who may not have been able to grasp and practice the WAVS intervention model. Some WAVS members are not simply challenged by choice but also by need. Although the process of healing requires not only a conviction of will, it too must include responsibility (response-ability)—the ability or inability, to respond to a given situation. More about situational-timing emerges when I meet with Terry. Our conversation about his dual roles in our community begins with my straightforward observation. I think one of the things that we both realize, Terry, is that you add an additional perspective. Not only are you from Warriors where we know each other, you’re being taught their wisdom as a member and a new facilitator and then lo and behold you have a grandson sitting in your lap right now. Do you find that fascinating? I do find that fascinating. I mean since I started Warriors last year in January, my first meeting, I didn’t know what a healing circle was or what kind of traditional customs they used with it. Being able to practice [tradition], for example, even though I have a First Nations background, I didn’t know what smudging was until I started the circle. (March 16, 2011)  50  Terry is now in his second year of an Aboriginal Family Counseling program. Part of his understanding about healing involves learning some differences between mainstream counselling services and WAVS. I ask him to help me understand a wider perspective. Before you contacted Warriors did you approach other community agencies? I did contact counseling to seek counseling for one-on-one with myself. I did attend as a couple [appointments] with my fiancé that led into doing some one-on-one with myself to find out where the anger stemmed from. Truthfully counseling did help at one point but then I felt it wasn’t strong enough to identify the root of the problem what I was seeking and truthfully I led the counselor to believe this and this and this and just gave them what they wanted to hear in a sense. (March 16, 2011) Conventional counseling does not resolve deep-seated issues for some. Wholistic healing is difficult. Not to mention, participants in traditional settings might speak dishonestly in order to satisfy what the typical counselor may want to hear. Terry articulates how Western intervention programs tend to deal more with surface issues and how to control [anger] with some tools like write down what I’m feeling now to keep a log of it. But it wasn’t helping me to find out where it was coming from and why I was behaving like this. Writing about Terry in this moment reminds me of my own traditional practices (or lack thereof) at times. I remember one day, here on the UBC campus. When walking to class, I pull a sprig of cedar foliage from a large tree. Alas, it does not come off easily and as I struggle to peel its bow, I find myself saying aloud, ‘Ouch, that’s gotta hurt! I am so sorry for not asking you permission first. Thank you so much.’ I’ve forgotten my protocols of respect for nature. As for my need to carry a cedar sprig for the day, when I return home my husband asks about it. ‘I just need a little extra strength close to me today’ I answer. (Personal Field Note, June 7, 2011) Holmes (2000) warns that we can borrow things from the land but should not take anything without asking first. She discusses a “fixed and timeless genealogical link between land and humans … In this heart knowledge, blood memory and the voice of the land constitute an ancestry of experience that shapes dreams, desires, intentions and purposeful activity” (p. 46). While my values and actions towards the cedar spray are accidentally purposes backwards, my heart knowledge remained steadfast towards my spoken protocols. My need of cedar-strength at times is an innate logical perception. Although seemingly insignificant in terms of this particular form of violence, the  51  lesson helps me to understand more il/logical and complex points of view such as this one: My Cowichan Indian Tribes Elder, Sarah Modeste, explains her perceptions as a result of the violence she endured throughout her life. “If I didn’t have my training that my Elders gave me I wouldn’t be living... It’s really horrible to be, to be a woman. You’re a nurturer of life, you’re a nurturer for your family—and then someone does that to you” (Interview, www.hiddenfromhistory.org.). On the other hand, Sarah has implored me to not forget our men. They, too, have experienced violence as a result of Western unhealthy influences (Personal Field Note, 2006). Over 50% of Aboriginal populations live in urban centers and two thirds of these urban populations are in Western Canada. An estimated 28,000 Aboriginal peoples reside in Vancouver and its suburban environs and 70% of Vancouver’s total Aboriginal population lives in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. Three-quarters of the residents live at the edges of poverty and experience higher risks of family violence (Benoit et al., 2003; Didluck and Piombini, 2001; Vedan, 2002). As the First Minister’s Report (2005) discusses, Aboriginal funding has not kept pace with the growing urban population and therefore, has failed to meet many urban living Aboriginal peoples’ sociopersonal/political hardships of education, poverty, shelter and overall health. All are deeply rooted in cultural disconnect and pervasive, ongoing colonial oppression and discrimination. Madeleine Dion Stout, through her participation in the film, Where Are our Children? Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools, offers a greater understanding of what poverty can mean to so many First Nations peoples. As a retired nurse, scholar and educator, Dion Stout imparts her experiential-based wisdom that we need to be cautious when describing poverty. Poverty is inclusive of so much more than a lack of money, food, clothing and shelter. She reminds us that for many Indigenous peoples poverty includes loss of culture, familial love, safety, identity, belonging, languages, traditions, intergenerational relationships (i.e. cultural teachings passed on) and spiritual connectedness with nature (Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the legacy of Hope Foundation, 2012). WAVS, throughout its intervention model, effectively contribute to the multiple levels of traditional healing with their purposeful teachings and tools offered to diminish some of the health inequities between Aboriginal peoples and non-Aboriginal peoples reported by the First Ministers (2005) and the Royal Commissions on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) (1996). One WAVS member succinctly states the agency’s value in his personal, familial and community life: ‘Change is vital. It is life-saving’ (Group Meeting Field Note, March 30, 2010). For numerous members who likewise believe the WAVS program to be life saving, the model facilitates greater awareness of the root causes of violence within families. It rests on the cornerstone that traditional healing practices are paramount to a strong sense of good health. A number of participants share about their healing crossroads. Some identify how they came to attend Warriors while others  52  reiterate differences between the WAVS model and those within Western practices. Freda conveys her initial familial intentions for attending Warriors. The reason that I came to Warriors Against Violence, essentially, was to learn and to be involved and myself and my daughter. She was being really abusive to me and I couldn’t handle it – I had high blood pressure, I was stressed out, and no matter what I did I felt like I couldn’t do anything for my child to change and now she’s an adult, my daughter. No matter if I was being good to my daughter or not being good or trying to ignore her, she would push me physically, psychologically, verbally, again, to the point where I just didn’t know whether I was going to hang in there or not. (December 6, 2010) According to Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile (2009), of the nearly 7,900 senior victims of violent crimes, over 2,400 or (35%) were committed by a member of the victim’s family (p. 6). As painful and as unacknowledged as this form of vertical violence (from child to parent) is, it is one that seems unexplored by other participants. Freda’s courage to awaken and move towards healthier relationships with herself and others is a testament to all WAVS members who wholly support one another along their parallel healing journeys. Many Aboriginal peoples believe, learn and re-member through ‘blood memory’ that First Nations peoples are all spiritually connected in health dis-ease and in health wellness. Such practices may include a belief in the symbolic Medicine Wheel (spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual aspects of our well-being); sacred ceremonies (sweat lodges, burning and smudging and ceremonial brushings); sacred healing herbs (sweetgrass, sage, cedar, tobacco and juniper); Aboriginal-led counselling; and traditional healers (Chee Mamuk Aboriginal Program: STI/HIV Prevention and Control (BC Centre for Disease Control), 2010). WAVS confirms that Medicine Wheel teachings are important methods for “looking after ourselves in a well-balanced way and [that] the rewards can be achieved by doing this (i.e. compassion, respect, acceptance, pride, strength, kindness, firmness, etc.)” (WAVS, 1998, p. 51).  2.8  Participatory Healing At WAVS The foundation upon which the WAVS violence intervention model rests is comprised of  relational healing cornerstones that members are taught and encouraged to further explore (Guidance Committee Field Note, October 2, 2009). These cornerstones are designed for the best possible understanding about from where contemporary violence among Aboriginal peoples predominantly originates. The factors are not exclusive of one another, nor are they exclusive to the  53  organization’s theory, methodology and socioeducational healing practices. They are relationally entwined. In other words, the ways in which many contemporary Aboriginal peoples heal is by leaning on the strength of our Ancestors/present-day traditional teaching and future implications. As Freda explains, Sharing information, negative or positive, does help people, whether we know it or not. It’s just a process. Someone can grasp something – something good or something bad – that triggers them, another way to handle things or know that they’re not the only one going through whatever they’re going through. (December 6, 2010) WAVS’ teachings are about assisting members through storytelling—truthful sharing of painful or triumphant experiences—to learn and to understand the following about themselves, their families and their community surroundings. About the anger they feel and resulting negative behaviors, WAVS’ intervention teaches five most influential factors from where anger and oftenensuing abuse might originally stem. Here, David refers to them: I remember the anger wheel at Warriors and we were talking about original family and society and stress and what about culture and you know, what about not knowing your own people. So that worked for you, as in, it helped you? I ask. It helped me to work out how I was feeling and why I was feeling like that. And that humans, we all make mistakes and mistakes are good too because you learn from them and do something better instead of being arrogant and start swearing, you know. Both men [facilitators Joe and Dan] reinforce notions of tradition, trust, mistakes, forgiveness and ultimately, ways of respect for all humanity. (February 8, 2011) Aspects of the ‘anger wheel’ and its descriptions are shown in Figure 2.1 on the next page. Throughout Warriors’ program each of these abuse cornerstones is discussed in detail within the respective group sessions.  54  Figure 2.1:  Relational Reasons for Abuse  55  1. Family of Origin: Family and/or residential schooling; foster care (being a part of the federal and provincial Ministries of children and families 60s scoop); and looking to the past to understanding how one was/is victimized. 2. Stress: Present-day and buried emotional pain and everyday stress at home, work or other community settings that keeps people stuck in the realm of anger. 3. Social /Cultural: ‘Passing’: the loss of culture and tradition, as demonstrated by members’ experiences of discrimination, spiritual abuse and learned behaviors (Goffman, 1963); concepts of ownership (i.e. ‘I can do what I want with them’– abuse of wife, partner, family) and lastly, negative messages and behaviors that are still being passed on to next generations (i.e. ‘after seven generations of sleep’. Our Elders are now ‘waking up’ and becoming more aware of their past traumas, learned behaviors and societal influences like racism, sports, music, movies, media and the ways contemporary society implicitly advocates violence and has become desensitized to the violence and the peoples affected by it). 4. Unknown Factors: Negative legacies such as witnessing abuse; war; residential school (of self and/or family members); history; past traumas; and post-traumatic stress disorder. 5. Feelings: Checking-in with revisiting self; acknowledging feelings; being conditioned to shut out feelings and emotions; the past; how members feel about being abused; and an opportunity to reconnect with self. As previously mentioned, the primary method by which Warriors’ members teach and learn from one another is through the Indigenous tradition of storytelling within ‘talking circles’ (France and McCormick, 1997; Graveline, 2000, 2002; Lester-Smith and Price, 2010; WAVS, 1998). Archibald (1997) explains how one’s belonging in a circle influences both the wholism of the community and that of the individual: An Indigenous philosophical concept of wholism refers to the interrelatedness between the intellectual, spiritual (metaphysical values and beliefs in the Creator), emotional and physical (body and behavior/action) realms to form a whole healthy  56  person. The development of holism extends to and is mutually influenced by one’s family, community, band and nation. The image of a circle is used by many First Nations peoples to symbolize wholeness, completeness and ultimately wellness. The never-ending circle also forms concentric circles to show both the synergistic influence of and our responsibility toward the generations of ancestors, the generations of today and the generations yet to come. The animal/human kingdoms, the elements of nature/land and the Spirit World are an integral part of the concentric circles. (p. 22) WAVS echoes Archibald’s values about wholeness, completeness and wellness within its intervention model of healing from and ending family violence. Their model focuses on sharing/learning traditions during group-meeting circles. The agency introduces a number of ‘best practices’ like taking personal ownership of the violence that each offender does to another person; building on personal strengths; pragmatically sharing his/her comprehensive familial experiences and cultural teachings; and engaging members’ voices by demonstrating genuine trust, confidentiality, listening, understanding and emancipatory storytelling. In my participation at WAVS (2009 to present), I have not witnessed a single new group member to whom facilitators did not compliment for the courage and strength it takes to ‘walk through that door’. Joe readily admits to all that he was in that exact same position fourteen years ago when he first walked through the doors of Change of Seasons (the parent agency from which WAVS began in 1998). Over our coffee visit I ask White Owl, When we share about our family of origin and with the sacred feather going around, what was that like for you? It was great. Evenings like that need to happen more often because we need to take care of stuff and talk about it. That’s the only way we can deal with stuff is to talk about it. You know how they say time heals all wounds? But not really. It’s honesty—when you talk about stuff in an honest way that’s what’s healing. (December 9, 2010) In a 2005 study by Dodson and Struthers that focuses on health and wellness, Aboriginal participants identify their view of health as related to the Indigenous principle of wholism. They viewed health as the relationships among self, others and the environment’, believing that ‘balance between spiritmind-body [emotion] is necessary’ and in particular, that ‘spirituality was viewed as a central element  57  and when the person was balanced and whole, the physical was health (p. 341). As a spiritual paradigm central to WAVS’ family violence intervention model, this spiritual mirror offers many a timeless connectedness with our collective past/present/futures. The Medicine Wheel is a mirror through which I come to a deeper understanding about who I am; where my wholeness as a being has been sometimes strengthened, sometimes compromised; and in any less-balanced health awareness, what complex experiences and perceptions I might face in the future. In this study, the five Medicine Wheel dimensions through which I/We view health are: Self, East, South, West and North, and will be discussed in greater depth in chapters 4 and 5. I use these cardinal directions merely as subheading labels. Based on personal preference, they could easily be reassigned as centre, hot, tepid cold and cool or as unity, soul, senses, body and head. The directional overview below and its corresponding graphic, Figure 2.2, provide a brief synthesis of the wholistic focus that a Medicine Wheel can offer in terms of traditional/contemporary Aboriginal peoples’ wellbeing. I elaborate more in each of the following chapters of my dissertation.  •  East – Spiritual: Prayer, meditation, smudging, drumming, song, dance, a connection to the land, sweatlodges, Elders and tradition.  •  South – Emotional: Love, respect, joy, care, laughter, friends and loved ones, support groups, acceptance from family and community, feeling of contributions to family and community.  •  West – Physical: access to medical support and services, a clean safe place to live, nutrition and exercise, help with addictions, anti-retroviral medicines, alternative and traditional medicines.  •  North – Intellectual: Understanding the virus and medicines, adapting and accepting life changes, learning and sharing about prevention, living with a positive attitude, keeping up to date on new information and an awareness of services and support available.  58  Figure 2.2:  The Symbolic Medicine Wheel: A Balanced Path to Health and Well-being  59  I emphasize, here, that our lives, particularly those of the participants, are not cookie-cutter designs nor are my/our chosen terminologies. By using the Medicine Wheel as both a theoretical and symbolic methodological framework, our personalities, experiences and interpretations ebb and flow throughout each Medicine Wheel dimension as our spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual experiences and insights arise and depart. I consider the white spaces shown in the diagram below to represent opportunities of openings as reflections and self-choices of re/direction. Consider music for example. It is said that instrumental notes played do not make the sounds of harmony but rather, it is the rests between notes that do. For many Aboriginal peoples. re/learning balanced ways of being rests on traditional healing practices that remain paramount to a strong sense of health and wellness. Family violence, both directly and indirectly, affects our Elders, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Healing from violence is complex. Traditional and contemporary Indigenous ways of healing include the awareness and honour of life in balance with respect for self, others and environment.. Bridging the gap between ancestral wisdom and present-day healing practices remains vital for urban Aboriginal peoples. One such philosophical approach is Aboriginal storytelling. I really believe that telling our stories is a part of our healing. Our stories are blood memory and collective, says Joyce (Personal Field Note, January 18, 2010).  2.8.1  Self as our Sacred-Centre The self is singular, the self is plural, the self is renewed in every breath we take; it has remained a constant guide since the beginning of time. The self is awake, aware and a dynamic ancestral Sage every second of every 1440 minute/24 hour/ 365 ¼ day-year of our Mother Earth-lives. (Personal Field Note, January 19, 2010) As I was falling asleep last night, I decided today would be the day I would stop, listen,  consider and define my/our ‘self’. Within the individual and plural complexities of my animate selfawareness, learning from sleep is not an unusual task for me and for many Aboriginal peoples. We can learn from my/our Sages during twilight and deep sleeps (Castellano, 2000; Graveline, 2002; Lane et al., 2004; Marsden, 2004; Turton, 1997; Wilson, 2008), as I do, referenced in my story below. Throughout my undergraduate education, I would often study day and night— by daylight my class notes remained tangible, in hand as I read through them over and over again; by dream-guidance, my mind would revisit, reread and continue to visualize my typed notes. Word by word, page by page, I read them during my sleep. For each exam, I could easily 60  read the professor’s typed questions on the paper before me and find the answers in my mind. I would flip to the very page of that particular topic/answer and then scribe my sleep-studied notes. (Personal Field Note, March 2010). From a Western perspective of learning, was I ‘cheating’? After all, I was ‘reading’ from somewhere and then ‘copying’ answers. However, from an Indigenous perspective I still continue to connect with those spirits who guide me to think, to articulate and to write from and about the knowledges and our shared ‘good medicine’ deep within me. I use the terms ‘good medicine’ and ‘bad medicine’ experientially, spiritually and metaphorically as Joe often explains to WAVS members: If you can’t feel it here (gesturing to his head) and here (to his heart), then it is not a goodmedicine place to be. Cajeté (1997) supports that “self-actualizing [our]selves, fulfilling [our] human potentials, enlivening [our] creative spirit and finding their personal meaning, power is what in earlier times Indian people called medicine” (p. 190). Joe teaches WAVS members, We are not here to fix your relationships—the first healthy relationship is with yourself (Group Meeting Field Note, March 30, 2010). The self, in its search for healthy ‘good medicine’ about which Cajeté and Joe speak, is and is not, me/you/us/them. It is a collective, the inherent heritage, the ancestral knowledge gifted to us through oral storytelling, books, dreams, Elders, professors, colleagues, quiet reflections and the theoretical focal point of our health and well-being (Archibald, 2008).  2.8.2  The East Dimension Everything begins in the East—we awake with a renewed sense of aliveness each day and  we go to sleep at dusk with a sense of anticipation for this foundational direction to return to us at dawn. It is the direction of beginnings and cyclical returns. The East represents guidance and leadership and abilities such as seeing clearly through complex situations with clear speech, selfreliance, trust in one’s self, believing the interconnectedness of all things and learning to use power (positive control of our lives) efficiently (Lane et al., 2004). “Power” refers to the transformative capacity of human action (Kondrat, 2002, p. 438).  61  2.8.3 The South Dimension The South is the place to prepare for the future, the place of the heart, generosity, sensitivity to others, loyalty, compassion and love. It is also a place of discipline, determination, strength and fiery passion, key factors to assist us to achieve life-goals. With our spiritual insights we can better understand our purposes in life and our ancestral connectedness to one another, our knowledge, our health and our healing (Lane et al., 2004). It is with this south-guidance of determination and strength that many WAVS members and I continue to live throughout our lives.  2.8.4  The West Dimension The West is where we become fully attentive to the moment. Our realizations, our awareness  is paramount in order to continue along the circular journey of the Medicine Wheel and of our healing processes. In her book, Daughters are Forever (2002), Lee Maracle describes the West wind as a personified metaphor of active inspiration: He is a moment of awesome aliveness. He inspires oneness. His presence tugged at her every cell, lined them up, opened her musculature. Light shot between each cell, blood rushed in, cleaned up old, toxic places and restored breath inside every part of her being. (p. 211) The awareness and rejuvenation experienced in the West awakens and inspires us to continue along our journeys no matter the obstacles we face. It is an integral dimension of both the Medicine Wheel and my/our thesis framework.  2.8.5  The North Dimension The North facilitates our learning processes and then encourages a space within where  differences can be understood and difficulties can be transformed for the betterment of all Indigenous peoples. North does not represent a destination of personal wellness because the Medicine Wheel is never static—like Indigenous knowledges, it is dynamic and ever-evolving. Situation-solving movement and justice live in the Northern sphere of the Medicine Wheel and while traveling towards it, we gain a great vision about the dawning place of true wisdom.  62  Understanding my/our past/present relations and crucial awareness is paramount to our lifejourneys. For many, the Medicine Wheel’s symbolic journey and its assistance with health and ‘good medicine’ is ageless.  2.9  Closing Discussion In this chapter, I explore Indigenous knowledges alongside the symbolic Medicine Wheel in  re/developing—or conceptualizing—a theoretical framework for dealing with family violence that fits the very fluidity of our health. Theory enables us to deal with contradictions and uncertainties. Perhaps more significantly, it gives us space to plan, to strategize, to take greater control over our resistances. The language of a theory can also be used as a way of organizing and determining action. It helps us to interpret what is being told to us and to predict the consequences of what is being promised … If it is a good theory it also allows for new ideas and ways of looking at things to be incorporated constantly without the need to search constantly for new theories. (Smith, 1999, p. 38) Including the language of IK theory and practice in health programs and practices that aim to address the needs of Aboriginal peoples is critical in order to reduce barriers for Aboriginal peoples accessing health services; resist or provide an alternative to a dominant, oppressive and colonial health system; and promote the inclusion of a diversity of peoples’ choices for traditional healing worldviews and medicinal knowledges. Theory allows us to borrow ideas from other topics and apply them to our own fields of interest/concerns. Infusing Indigenous/biomedical health models enables new frameworks for working within a variety of health systems and effectively meeting the needs of diverse peoples. This kind of fusion refers to a system of medicine that integrates biomedicine with alternative health knowledge systems (Baer, 2002). It combines different concepts, practices and values from different health models, including complementary and alternative medicine and conventional medicines. Such approaches to health programs are successful in international Indigenous contexts (Boyer, 2006; Dodson and Struthers, 2005; Durie, 2004; France and McCormick, 1997; Morgan and Slade, 1997; NAHO, 2008; WAVS, 2003). Although, rather than ‘different concepts’, perhaps the term ‘diverse concepts’ may be a more appropriate description of alternative medicinal ways. Even so, ‘unconventional’ may be the more apt word for ‘alternative’. As my tension of word and meaning choice demonstrates, so too, do lexical labels and processes of infusing 63  biomedicine with alternative health knowledge systems flex and wan. When naming different approaches, how does one avoid adversary—at the very least, binary—points of view and practice? Does not both mainstream and alternative medicinal theories and methods ‘other’ one another when presenting polar tensions of our ways and their ways? On a grander scale I ruminate that this very dissertation signifies a collection of multiple ideals, thoughts and practices of alternative other-hoods. Re/gaining cultural knowledge about ‘other’ unknowns such as our familial origins as my inter-generational-grounding recipes mentioned earlier, traditional knowledges and practices of good health can be a protective factor against family violence. This knowing becomes beneficial to WAVS members, both offenders and recipients of violence. This knowing becomes beneficial to WAVS members, both offenders and recipients of violence. As David confirms from his perspective, [A friend] talked real good about Warriors. He said that’s where I need to belong. He said, ‘Just keep going. Commit yourself. As long as you’re there, you’re going to learn. But if you just talk about it, you’re not going to learn.’ (December 7, 2010) David helps me to identify that Warriors instills praxis (theories of learning transformed into action) in order for First Nations peoples to heal. He also leaves me to consider my theoretical reflections, that within the inner wisdom of individuality, of blood memory and of ancestral connected-ness I can resolve, Theories fit not only the historical times in which they were created but also the contemporary times in which they are re/considered to best understand my/our lives. And yet—I and we are a living, indefinable theoretical framework. (Personal Field Note, January 9, 2010) In this theoretical chapter, I survey and articulate my understandings about wholistic well-being from scholars, community members, Coyote and my/our intuitive-ancestral knowledges. In the following chapter I more thoroughly delve into the Medicine Wheel’s representative/spiritual teachings of harmonious wellness.  64  Chapter 3: Methodology I am leaving UBC campus via one of our housing roads and notice a car has accidentally hit a squirrel. Although the squirrel is in the middle of the road, its body does not seem overtly injured. I park my car and search around me for protection but all I have are few Starbucks napkins. I reach for a labeled, colonized, corporatized napkin but then think, ‘That doesn’t work for me; it’s not going to honour the squirrel.’ So I get out of the car, walk back, gingerly pick up the squirrel so that it rests in my two upturned palms and carry it off to a sidewalk path, already eyeing a nearby cedar tree that offers ample shade. I lay the squirrel at the base of the tree and then solemnly return my car. I say a prayer, not only for the squirrel, but also that I don’t pass on any germs from my unclean hands that would make anybody else or myself ill. (Personal Field Note, July 13, 2009)  3.1  Context The days of researchers using knowledge gained from Aboriginal communities for their own benefit, such as individual career enhancement and prestige are coming to an end. (Baskin, 2005, p. 172) Indigenous methodology (IM), although deeply personal and pragmatic in its own diversity  among Aboriginal peoples, is about intuitively knowing how, why and where the agency of transformation is necessary. This journey begins when we consciously make room in our wholistic being for the gentle drumming of our pulse, our ancestral heart knowledge. IM is not only knowing exactly what we must do, but also about awareness that we sometimes traverse like Coyote, seemingly uncertainty at first glance, or like Squirrel, needing a respectful resting ground. Indeed, we occasionally lose our concentration. We then waver, question and experiment until we find the bestsuited ideas and practices with which and with whom we require at that particular time. Within a transformative IM framework, we can find new and culturally-appropriate processes as part of the journey. I understand that our methodological practices are personal, sensitive and heartfelt to the very core of who we are as Indigenous peoples. They are authentic, valid/vital, necessary and commonsensical (Cole, 2006; Evans, Hole, Berg, Hutchinson and Sookraj, 2009; Lester-Smith, 2008; WAVS 1998).  65  From within an Indigenous/Western lens, James Youngblood Henderson suggests, “Eurocentric thought claims to be universal and general…the dominated always appeared to be afflicted with some defect or intrinsic failing” (p. 63). Yet Joe speaks about the effective fusion of the two worldviews that many Aboriginal leaders have learned to value (Archibald, 2008; Cole, 2004; Haig-Brown, 2009; Young, 2006a). In an Aboriginal leadership pamphlet by Young (2006), Chief Leonard George affirms “Our individual responsibility is to become the best human beings possible and to enhance that stability in others. Through this kind of development true healthy leadership is possible.” As I see how WAVS’ leadership, purpose and traditional/contemporary techniques facilitate learning a new way towards healthy families I am confronted with the duality of meanings encoded in the word ‘warrior’. For instance, while Melanie defines her warrior role as having the courage to change her life for the better (January 10, 2011), another WAVS member interprets his experiences of not fitting in with his family or home community as the cause of his degeneration into a warrior (a fighting warrior in the negative sense of the word). He feels misguided by family and community implicit messages and that since there was no family cohesiveness and positive role models for him as a young man— he must become a warrior then—one who does some bad things (Group Meeting Field Note, March 4, 2010). The essence being that across cultures and ethnicities, people must arrive at a clear knowing of their intimate culture and families of origin (Grand, 2004; Parent, 2009). To deny our strong connectedness within humanity, to not know our individual and collective identity, re/presents a potential failure in any forward moving recovery processes. My Aboriginal heritage plays a significant part in this work. Traditionally, research relations are often organized by non-Aboriginal scholars presumed to be the holders of knowledge and focused on those presumed to need the research (Cole and O’Riley, 2005). Aboriginal peoples were—and too often still are—the subjects or the object of study. Primarily, research was/is done about them, on them and not often enough for them. However, increasing numbers of community members and researchers are coming to understand this paradigm shift: that Participatory Action Research (PAR), about Aboriginal peoples in particular, needs to be not only about the people but for the people and by the people.  3.2  Indigenous Methodological Perspectives Beyond WAVS healing methods, timeless Ancient/contemporary understandings about  finding one’s true familial connections can be found embedded in this vivid Zen metaphor: “The monkey is reaching for the moon in the water, until death overtakes him he will never give up. If he  66  would only let go of the branch and disappear into the deep pool, the whole world would shine with dazzling clearness” (Lee, 2000, p. 29). As the always reaching yet ever-hesitant monkey demonstrates, paths to trustful learning and thriving with authenticity is not always an easy process; however, it is one I believe in. My dissertation process has been one of synthesizing past, present and future knowledge through a comprehensive approach to understanding the following socio-personal/interrelated methods.  •  Multi-sensorial witnessing, experiencing, learning and practices  •  Community/academic collaborations  •  WAVS oral history and written archival materials such as group observations and anonymously written program evaluation forms  •  Conversations with WAVS co-founders/co-facilitators and members attending WAVS and community  •  Elders (and their inter-generational Indigenous Knowledges)  •  Aboriginal storytelling  •  Traditional teachings  •  Animals  •  Dreams  •  Kinetic Memory  •  Heritage Memory  •  Song and dance  •  Cultural components  •  Emerging new issues  •  Writing  With the assistance of such multiple learning tools, our collaborative project about the WAVS intervention model can be an insightful contribution to many Aboriginal communities struggling with violence and to the field of healthcare. The kind of collaborative research within which WAVS members, participants and I engage during this project, I refer to as Indigenous Collaborative Research (ICR). I preface that my considerations about ICR and its learning tools remain personal and analytical interpretations. In other words, they are not objective. They cannot be. It is only through my and participants’ subjective thoughts and experiences through which I/We view the world  67  that I can speculatively speak and write.. However, despite this subjectivity, I agree with Creswell (1998) that such case studies are sufficient for valid qualitative research. He states, “What motivates the researcher … is the idea of generalizability [italics in original]” (p. 63). Stake (2004) describes qualitative research involving in-depth studies such as ours as instrumental if a particular case is examined to provide insight into an issue or to redraw a generalization. “The case [study] is of secondary interest; it plays a supporting role and it facilitates our understanding of something else… A researcher may jointly study a number of instrumental cases in order to investigate a phenomenon, population or general condition” (p. 437). In this study, each and every participant may be considered instrumental in their personhood and in their contributions of understanding. Individually and collectively embedded in both my learnings and teachings about dynamic notions of respectful relationships with all who/that exist in our world today, I explore the following:  •  How Indigenous Collaborative Research (ICR) as an evolving, adaptable extension of Participatory Action Research (PAR) might benefit WAVS. More specifically, how this interfaced way of learning, teaching and knowing actively supports members seeking to heal from the inter-generational wounds of systemic violence (section 3.2);  •  What Indigenous Methodologies, particularly storytelling can look like in terms of a visual balanced health and framework (section 3.3); and  •  How Indigenous storytelling is being used through traditional and contemporary ways of healing (section 3.4).  It is not so much that WAVS members’ participation can be deemed either of ‘participatory action’ or not, or ‘Indigenously collaborative’ or not, but before moving on to describe my/our study methodology, I must be clear in my understanding of PAR in order to strengthen and articulate my resolve about ICR.  3.2.1  Participatory Action Research Hall (1982) uses the term ‘participatory research’ to capture the essence of the combination  of social inquiry and community participation in decision making that research approaches had in common (p. 21). Participatory action research is often described as a process that integrates education, research and action (Hall, 1993, p. xiv; Selener, 1997, p.12). Critical cognizant skills are developed through participation in discourse where dialogue takes place between marginalized 68  society members and the dominant society members. Key to effective PAR is that oppressors “must realize that their own conviction of the necessity for struggle (an indispensable dimension of revolutionary wisdom) was not given to them by anyone else…it is reached by means of a totality of reflection and action” (Freire, 1970, p. 67). The oppressed must also commit themselves to the struggle and “must reach this conviction as subjects, not as objects” (Freire, p. 67). PAR involves frameworks and practices that compliment Indigenous peoples, knowledges and methodologies. Its principles promote a commitment to social justice by decentering researchers with Western ‘expertise’ assumptions and centering the very people for whom the project is necessary. In other words, according to Evans et al., (2009), PAR is designed to  challenge the historical privileging of Western positivist science that emphasize(d) neutrality and objectivity (p. 5), [whereby] the gaze of the research emanates from the standpoint of ‘the people’ and the object of the gaze informing the research and action are the experiences of oppression and marginalization. (p. 10)  The ultimate goal of PAR is to “link the processes of research, by which data are systematically collected and analyzed, with the purpose of taking action or affecting social change” (Green, George, Daniel, Frankish, Herbert, Bowie, and O'Neil, 1997, p. 53).  3.2.2  Indigenous Collaborative Research My developing ICR practices inclusive of both Indigenous knowledges and methodologies  are not necessarily better, but nevertheless, have evolved differently and/or beyond some standard PAR practices. In this project, participants are often the researchers. They want to explore insights about WAVS. They are eager to share personal experiences to support the continuation of WAVS and vital reasons for other communities to adopt the program based on their now-documented successful healing within it. They also seek answers, delve into discussions and offer sound recommendations. At times I respectfully don the role of a participatory learner by donning a ‘back-seated’ role of working with WAVS within this newly defined ICR paradigm. Paradoxically, I work behind the scenes to assist the agency while also taking full ‘driver’-responsibility towards the study’s completion. Some of these activities include: •  contributing to meals served before each meeting;  •  updating agency pamphlets; assisting with proposal writing; 69  •  sharing relevant literature; assisting with fundraising events;  •  attending board and ad hoc program meetings when asked;  •  Having coffee or lunch with Joyce every few weeks to support one another; and  •  sending monthly updates about my work to WAVS board members and my Aboriginal Community Guidance Committee members to whom I remain accountable.  In September 2009 I created a Guidance Committee for this project by inviting community leaders to assist me in considering questions about theory, methodology, practices and outcomes. Of possible interest is that I did so without my university supervisory committee’s prior knowledge. Three months later, during my first academic committee meeting Dr. Peter Cole asks me, ‘Who told you to do this?’ to which I answer, No one. But as Dr. Archibald led me towards planning our UBC supervisory committee meeting together, I instinctively knew that I could not attend without first having sought learning from my community Knowledge-Keepers. The following two graphics, Figures 3.1 and 3.2, depict my learned articulations about PAR/ICR conceptual and contextual models.  70  Figure 3.1:  PAR/ICR Conceptual Model (Ways this Research is Conducted)  71  Figure 3.2:  ICR Contextual Model (Participant responses to the ways this research is conducted)  72  In my efforts to concentrate on an ICR-based project with those who hold the wisdom (WAVS and related community leaders) I have discovered the commonality and frequency of two guiding principles. These are Relationality and Adaptability: What perceived relations led to my deciding to ceremoniously place the killed squirrel under a nearby cedar tree? What adaptations, and perhaps re/emerging traditional ones in the past/present caused me to use my own hands instead of the Starbucks napkin? It is through such experiences that I am able consider: (1) What relations (with family, community, heritage, etc.) might have led participants to WAVS, and (2) What adaptations in connection to re/emerging traditional ones may have helped them and their families towards a healthier future. Relationality Building relationships by visiting, sharing, friendships and extending kinship, increases potential for new ways to emerge: new ideas, new technologies and an expanded web of relational accountability. (Cohen, 2010, p. 146) In highlighting this way of being in harmony with all life around us, Cohen challenges us to tap into our ancestral/spiritual knowledges. I interpret my own instinctive non-mysterious relationality as characterized by my/our relationships in our world today. Indeed, I trust my intuition, my/our Creator’s guiding voice deep within my Sacred-self. Heard by my right-brain hemispherical realm, un-shadowed by my analytical, judgmental left-brain reasoning, I feel a more peaceful and authentic woman. First Nations peoples since time immemorial, too, have believed in this intuition. Contemporary scholars such as Archibald (2008), Atleo (2004), Brown (2004), Dei (2000), Vedan (2002) and Wilson (2008) explore relationality in the spheres of people, nature, animals, spirituality, symbolic healing, research and ethics. Many support these animate cultural symbols and healing processes in terms of reverent storytelling embedded in Aboriginal worldviews and methodological practices (Archibald, 2008; France and McCormick, 1997; King, 2007; Marsden, 2004; McCaleb, 2003). Wilson, in his 2008 book, Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods, makes clear that Indigenous methodologies are relational. From an Indigenous perspective, our world is animate and the relations we hold with all are vital to Aboriginal ways of knowing and being. Leslie sees relationality amongst all life forms and his place in it to care and to nurture: I’m concerned about the wellness of an infant and I’m also concerned about the wellness of this planet that we live on. And I’m concerned in between that. When I see things that  73  happened, like the oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico and I see things like oil-covered wildlife— that does something to my Spirit. That saddens me right to the core and there’s no other way to—those types of events make me feel helpless (said passionately). But when I’m able to pick up someone’s child, and I’m able to nurture them in some way, even just by having the child laugh and giggle with me, that makes a big difference because now I’m having a direct impact on the wellness of an individual. (December 1, 2010) Relationships about which Leslie speaks suggest that spiritual, physical, emotional and/or intellectual disturbances in our world can cause imbalances within ourselves. His poignant movement between humanity and elemental disaster reminds me of the following passage: The elements of earth, water, fire, air and [inner-self] space are never exhausted but always present. The bodhisattva says, ‘In the same way sentient beings depend on the elements for their life, so may I always sustain them’. (Farber and His Holiness the Dalia Lama, 2005, p. 3) The traumatic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the misery of the wildlife—and on the other hand, the happiness of a child being comforted by us—all have a direct influence on our own well-being— hence the rationale of interconnectedness behind the theoretical Medicine Wheel of wellness. The many relations with whom we find ourselves are indexical of fluid, Indigenous worldview/s about health and healing. These are often communicated through story-telling (Dion Stout, 2009; Graveline, 1998; Kenny, 2006; Loiselle and McKenzie, 2006; McCormick, 2005; Mehl-Madrona, 2005; Williams, Labonte and O’Brien, 2003). Joe helps me understand his storyteller/listener preparedness before each WAVS meeting; two of five evenings a week he leaves his work at Matsqui Prison to drive the rush-hour traffic trail back into Vancouver and straight to WAVS. That’s why I stay outside [on the sidewalk visiting with members [who smoke]. Until I’m ready to go in. Smoke my cigarette and get ready [physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually]. (December 15, 2010) Being a respectable Aboriginal storyteller means to understand my role, purpose and preparedness in life. Still, storytelling as a means of understanding community or environmental relations does not occur within Indigenous cultures alone. William Faulkner (1897-1962), an early American Southern writer, understood the value of wholistic human nature as indicative of social,  74  collaborative achievement. The author was greatly influenced by the history of his family and the region in which they lived. Mississippi homeland marked his sense of humour; his sense of the tragic position of Blacks and Whites; and his very depiction of Southern characters and timeless themes. I recall Faulkner endorsing his readers in this way: ‘Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself’. Aboriginal peoples’ movement towards reclamation of harmonious well-being does not involve comparisons to one’s neighbors. Case in point, in the Elder’s room inside the First Nations House of Learning hangs a framed message of wisdom. “The honour of one is the honour of all.” First Nations peoples’ reverence for one another and for our animate world surrounding and living within us involves relational respect and responsibility. Respectful, responsible, relevant, reciprocal and relational Aboriginal research is paramount to honouring the past, present and future healing of Aboriginal peoples, and collaboratively, those families that WAVS serves. IM is not a western-structured, limited framework. Rather, IM is about adaptation—re-thinking, re-membering, re-juvenating and re-healing our lives. Indigenous relational survival also includes viewing multiple colonial policies through my/our innate Indigenous adaptability to evolving, socio-personal experiences. Adaptability The movement of selected or necessary adaptations re/presents a second key element of IM, something I am all too familiar with. Dystonia, a neurological disorder layering itself since 2005 upon my Cerebral Palsy since birth, is the newest ‘settler-condition’ to threaten my daily energy levels. It has sought to colonize me: like family violence, perpetrated, received or witnessed, I did not invite it. I have not welcomed it into my life, and I do not agree with its values and ideologies. Nevertheless, although I do not appreciate its legacy of negative health impacts, I am learning how to adapt and to live as dynamically as possible. In other words, as Western derived colonialism has done to Aboriginal peoples, Dystonia has usurped me; its every decision-making process controls me. It oppresses and discriminates against what I would prefer to do or say; therefore, my situational adaptability is crucial to my balanced wellness. My wholistic capabilities teach me how carefully I must now attend to spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual day-to-day tasks like walking, driving, speaking, cooking, carrying items or attending community or university gatherings. But WAVS is a different matter—through sheer determination, I attend nearly 18 months of Monday evening co-ed meetings, sometimes Thursday meetings with the women only, and every celebration ceremony and community fundraiser they/we plan.  75  During one of the group sessions I note an example of spiritual adaptation. Joe doesn’t have his eagle feather tonight to pass around for group-member introductions. In its absence, he picks up a blue felt pen from his standing flipchart and passes it to the person to his left, saying, ‘This is our Sacred Feather for tonight.’ I feel as though I am witnessing profound traditional sacredness. In terms of Indigenous worldview/s, the pen has indeed been symbolically transformed into an Eagle feather. (Group Meeting Field Note, June 21, 2010) Waldram (1993) describes metaphoric healing as  a process which is occurring in Canadian penitentiaries and which involves Aboriginal offenders in cultural awareness and educational programs. Participants must first receive the necessary education to allow them to identify with the healing symbols so that healing may ensue and both the healers and the patients must engage in a process of redefining their cultures in search of a common cultural base. (p. 346)  Wilson (2008) states, Part of the importance of developing an Indigenous research paradigm is that we can use methods and forms of expression that we judge to be valid for ourselves. We can get past having to justify ourselves as Indigenous to the dominant society and academia. We can develop our own criteria for judging the usefulness, validity and worth of Indigenous research and writing. (p. 40) Wilson implores us to reflect upon the relationality between Indigenous peoples, and their knowledges and the adaptability available to them. He moves past some scientific rationales and empirical research demands towards embracing traditional knowledges as valid and worthy of sound research footings. As one final illustration of adaptability, when giving honoraria to friends and participants, I am unable to neatly handwrite in their thank-you cards. Instead, I briefly explain that the blank card a gift—one they can pass forward. The ways in which I approach my work, from the traditional to the contemporary ways, become heightened as creative forms of expression. Present-day lexes of Indigenous traditions include language, culture, foods, simplicity, commonsense and ways of being and knowing (Dion Stout, Kipling and Stout, 2001; Haig-Brown, 1988; Chrisjohn, Young and Marun, 2006; Royal Commission on Aboriginal People (RCAP), 1996). Returning to the food-  76  specific example I mention in chapter 2, I consider the inter-generational recipes evidentiary of my matriarchal family members’ Indigenous adaptation across time and place. In contrast, not being able to adapt or regain one’s traditions and culture over time can result in a complex form of wholistic poverty. Imagining myself without this wealth of guiding culture passed down from my kokums, I am reminded of Fredrich Nietzsche who is famously quoted as saying, ‘When you look into an abyss, the abyss [of relationally and adaptability] looks into you’. Without purposeful reflection we risk forgetting the wealth that love offers—a wealth of belonging, of safety and of knowing. Traditional practices, abilities and inter-generational teachings are indeed relational to participants and other community members. Nietzsche’s words also confront my pragmatic realism. My family’s culinary skills, as with other ways of wisdom once showcased in high esteem for centuries, are slowly dissipating. The first way is socially. The interconnections of mainstay family dinners have decreased. Gone are the days of Sunday family meals, for example, of roast beef, pork or cured ham, mashed or baked potatoes, gravy and oven-baked biscuits and fresh fruit pies. The second way is within our contemporary times of mobility. The accessibility of fastfood, a chicken/caesar-wrap or a grilled panini-sandwich sold in every urban street corner-café has replaced those earlier traditional gatherings. Lastly, the cost of meals-on-the-go, that wrap or sandwich for $5.00, has become relatively inexpensive. Paradoxically, inter-generational learning can be about collective sustainability of culture. Separatism from cultural awareness and practices can be extremely consequential. Heritage disconnect results in a lack of Indigenous wholistic identity. Another Zen teaching confirms that We tend to separate what something is from what we believe it is not. Take, as an example, a water jug. The fact is the space around it is also the jug; the space between the handle and body creates the handle, the space inside creates the jug, the space around it separates the jug from you. (Lee, 2000, p. 14) Similarly, Indigenous theories and methodologies include a way of knowing that is fluid and experiential, [and thus adaptable over time] derived from teachings transmitted from generation to generation by storytelling; each story is alive with the nuances and wisdom of the storyteller and arise from interrelationships from the human world, the spirit and the inanimate intimacies of the ecosystem. (Brown and Strega, 2005, p. 27)  77  Such knowledges and methods of learning and of doing are practical and heartfelt. In their inanimate intimacies they are emphasized through places, spaces and inter-generational explorations. As a woman of Algonquin, Métis, English, Irish and Scottish inter-generations, I am a Western-raised academic actively engaged with collaborative research. The framework that most guides me is the Medicine Wheel comprised of both theoretical and methodological wholistic ways towards wellness. It is the same predominant healing tool that WAVS employs to assist its members.  3.3  The Medicine Wheel: A Balanced Path To Health And Wellbeing There are four dimensions of “true learning.” These four aspects of every person’s nature are reflected in the four cardinal points of the medicine wheel. These four aspects of our being are developed through the use of our volition or will. It cannot be said that a person has totally learned in a whole and balanced manner unless all four dimensions of her being have been involved in the process (Lane, Bopp, Bopp, & Brown, 1985, p. 29). Aboriginal perceptions of well-being are realized in several different ways, one of which is  reported with/in the metaphor, the Medicine Wheel. Described by Cree people at “Four Directions Teachings,” the Medicine Wheel is often used as a traditional and/or representative model to guide people toward harmonious well-being. It is commonly considered symbolically indicative of a relationship with and between individuals, the four elements and seasons of nature and the four dimensions of the individual: the spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual (Castellano, 2000; Drumbrill and Green, 2008; Graveline, 2000; Lester-Smith (Hill), 2008; Lane et al., 2004; Loiselle and McKenzie, 2006; Iseke-Barnes, 2003; WAVS, 2003). Loiselle and McKenzie (2006) offer a fully ecological and wholistic approach using elements of the Medicine Wheel as an intervention strategy for “problem solving, for enhancing one’s awareness and understanding of self and for restoring healthy relationships and general well-being” (p. 11). Warriors offers a wholistic focus that is more than a method; it is a way of being (Orr, 2000). It is important to note that the circular models presented in the RHS cultural framework are not medicine wheels. Medicine wheels are related to sacred teachings and understandings that are not discussed in the [report’s] cultural framework, primarily because of the diversity of Indigenous Knowledge across First Nations (First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey: the Peoples’ Report (RHS) 2007, p. 2). 78  Important to my/our study, ways of knowing within IM are often taught and learned through Aboriginal storytelling. The transformative power of Aboriginal storytelling is evident in the WAVS violence intervention model, whereby facilitators and members alike are encouraged to share at appropriate times, aspects of their past in order to heal their present-day struggles for their future health and well-being. Yes, there are other agencies throughout Vancouver that assist with families and violence—but at this time only WAVS provides the traditional tools and ways of knowing specific to the needs of Urban Aboriginal families, inclusive of men and women together. (Joyce, Personal Communication, January 6, 2010; Vancouver Status of Women Resource Guide, 2007). I next survey Aboriginal storytelling as an effective method of healing.  3.4  Storytelling in Traditional and Contemporary Ways Of Healing I have heard researchers, after twenty years into their careers, suggest that the new people they’ve met for projects are telling the same stories. Has nothing changed—not the people sharing their individual life-stories, not the disheartening content of their stories—how is this possible? Every man or woman, child or family with whom a researcher meets, every story of survival, past and ongoing trauma, resilience, healing, happiness and joy, while sharing degrees of similarities, whom a researcher listens to, by virtue of inherency, are unique. How do we honour the stories that retell the realities of our world? To seek similarities and differences without ignoring one or the other is essential. People are unique and so are their stories. Each offers a glint of new perspectives from which people can learn. (Personal Field Note, October 23, 2009) Is it reasonable to expect the disheartening content of people’s lives to disappear? Might we  therefore, assume that sadness or pain can disappear from literature, art or music—subjects so central to the human condition? Living content as well as context will always exist, yet each of us and our situations are unique. Whether meaningful methodologies with Indigenous peoples be labeled as PAR or as ICR, the welcome mat is not only a signifier that a community agency’s door is open, It is also an invitation to develop respectful relations before any research begins. Why? Why, for the first time did I pick up a dead squirrel? I do not feel nearly equipped to give an unequivocal answer. Yet inter-connectedly I know that I can turn to Indigenous Knowledge Systems for ancestral reasoning, understanding and pedagogy. My/Our focus on WAVS’ model of family violence intervention and prevention includes the following two socio-personal/interrelated methods of informative praxis.  79  3.4.1  Indigenous Storytelling Jo-ann Archibald re/defines storytelling as Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart,  Mind, Body and Spirit, the title and content of her 2008 book in which she creates the term ‘storywork’ because “I needed a term that signified that our stories and storytelling needed to be taken seriously” (p. 3). She theorizes seven principles that help to define Aboriginal storytelling for educational and wholistic purposes that are a valued connection to health and healing. The author’s circular framework about ‘storywork’ includes respect, responsibility, reciprocity, reverence, holism, interrelatedness and synergy. I ground my work in Archibald’s framework in advocacy for our experiential stories to be understood within the contexts of Indigenous worldviews and education. I then scaffold my own storytelling methods and protocols by engaging in storywork pedagogy through active ICR perspectives and methods. Another way of storytelling is through song. There became a time and revitalization for musically talented members in Joyce’s Lil'wat family, as was strongly encouraged by her parents. Songs became a vital connection for her family. Although singing in their own language (Stl'atl'imx) was difficult at times, the family singing group, Tzo’kam, always turned to their mom for cultural and song guidance in translations and in sounding better by pronouncing Stl'atl'imx words correctly (Lester-Smith and Fossella, 2011). Mehl-Madrona (2005) integrates storytelling into his medical practice to enhance healing. His belief is that hearing stories of healing told by a peer is intrinsic to healing; it enables a person to imagine his/her own healing. “Stories from the oral tradition, also called myths or legends, provide valuable insight into the cognitive orientation or health-world view, guiding the health beliefs of aboriginal peoples” (Turton 1997, p. 2). WAVS members confirm that hearing the personal stories of the facilitators who have healed from intimate partner violence as a method points towards potential change. Many feel the program and its facilitators offer inspiration and hope that they too can make transformative choices in their lives “to the extent that the story is incorporated—consumed, digested, internalized—the possibility that it will become true grows” (Mehl-Madrona, 2005, p. 3). Storywork also conveys the means of transformation by holding the wisdom that allows for change, spiritual growth and alternative/positive outcomes to living problems. His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and Farber (2005) tell of traditional Buddhist storytellers traverseing nomadic communities and “hanging their elaborate paintings in a convenient place, would chant an account of what the pictures revealed, while pointing out details with a long stick” (p. 2). As a practitioner of Western medicine, Mehl-Madrona (2005) believes healing is a negotiation of story, that storytelling alone cannot provide restoration of health but can aid in the instruction of growth and change. The main focus of WAVS’ program is to end violent and abusive behavior and to help 80  members feel better about themselves. Group participants are encouraged to take ownership of their past decisions and actions by openly discussing the ways in which they have received and/or perpetuated violent behaviours from and towards other people. This particular methodology, Aboriginal storytelling, is the cornerstone of transformative life-stories throughout WAVS’ 14 years of community service, and is explored throughout the remaining chapters of this dissertation.  3.4.2  Storytelling at Warriors Against Violence Society As community Elders, Joe and Dan (before his passing) often share with members, they too  were once scared, skeptical, humbled and sometimes defiant of taking full responsibility for their violence towards their families. However, these men did understand their predicament and—they wanted to and needed to, heal. Taking personal responsibility is a crucial action within my doctoral studies with WAVS. I must understand the very cultural sensitivities of staff, members and the intervention model-philosophies if I am permitted anyone’s trust, and for participants to share with me their traumatic and triumphant experiences of abuse and of healing. Unfortunately, some members have moved away from their innate knowledge of responsibility and respect for all humans. Dan muses: I just want to someday leave this world a little bit better than when I came into it (Guidance Committee Field Note, October 2, 2009). Both fortunately and sadly, he did so on May 22, 2010, passing away from cancer. I listened many times to him telling members that after seven generations of sleeping and protecting their wisdom, our Ancestors are now waking and once again and voicing their guidance to us, to those peoples ready to learn from them. From Dan I infer the value of all voices, even the most sequestered ones. Facilitators and members alike refer to the sharing circle as a safe healing space. Traditional and present-day talking circles provide a safe and respectful space in which all members are given the chance to share their still-small voices of conscience without fear of criticism or judgment. WAVS does not condemn or dehumanize any of its members. As a participant Terry explains, [When] we’re sitting in the circle, everyone is treated as equals and we’re all equals. [In] the healing circle our facilitators are there but they’re participants also because they get to tell their story, too, so we can relate to them (March 16, 2011). As previously mentioned, WAVS’ sharing circles are open to co-ed members on Monday evenings and then men and women separately on Thursday evenings. Michael, both a participant and a member of my Guidance Committee emphasizes the importance of men learning how to communicate.  81  Honesty helps the participants, they share stories and they realize they are not alone. It is not where you’ve been but where you are going. That is the support we give one another in the WAVS groups. (Personal Field Note, September 29, 2009) Group-member feedback is also a central component to the WAVS model—as a necessity of life, storywork heals; however, sometimes patience is needed. M. describes, for example, There were times when I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even stop crying. I would be heartbroken. I mean, I’m still heartbroken now but I’ve accepted it. I’ve learned to accept it and I’ve learned to be grateful, having such wonderful brothers and sisters, because I remember all the good things about them. (March 3, 2011) Customarily, a sacred eagle feather or an Aboriginal carved ‘talking stick’ is passed around a sharing circle. The person holding the sacred item is the only speaker at the time,while all others respectfully listen and remain silent until their turn to speak. When done respectfully, circle participation reflects the basic traditional and philosophical worldview of Aboriginal peoples regardless of whether it is done from a healing perspective, a teaching approach or as a path to problem solving. The self-help tool of honesty in storytelling becomes crucial to healing from past traumas, present-day wellness and future familial and community optimal wellbeing. About the multi-directional pathway of health-affirming circles, Jeanette Armstrong describes the Okanagan Indian Band peoples’ En’owkinwixw Discourse Model as a means to learn from principal voices and also from sequestered, weaker voices. She advocates for listening to all people and for respecting diversity. The En’owkinwixw process activates creativity; it supports and encourages even the most quiet, unexpected persons from which answers, viewpoints and solutions might arise. Armstrong contends that everybody can offer what uniqueness lives inside of them (2000). She shows the value of all storytellers, regardless of how foremost or marginalized their voices have become. Norton (2007) reminds us that the verb ’become’ is fluid and its consequential meaning is dependent on a number of factors. Every time we speak, we are negotiating and renegotiating our sense of self in relation to the larger social world and reorganizing that relationship across time and space. Our gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientations, among other characteristics, are all implicated in this negotiation of identity. (pp. 1-2)  82  In other words, she teases apart the unfamiliarity of this familiar verb for us. WAVS applies the Indigenous traditional circle as a format for re/organizing exchange and discussion, which lends itself to being more trusting and non-judgmental. All participants have a voice and are given a turn to contribute. The circle structure also stands in contrast to a Westernized boardroom setting where an executive is likely to sit at the end of a long rectangular-shaped table. In this structured setting those seated along the sides of the table fill a subordinate but ranked role, perhaps with some chance of contribution, but ultimately, the head makes the final decisions.  3.5  Study Methods It's a hope that flickers in the very survival of our nations, the fact that we are still here. That we have, in many cases, an unbroken succession of leadership. That my son and I are responsible for safeguarding into the future. In this I feel a great sense of hope and opportunity. And in all this, Canada has, in my view and in the view, I think, of a growing number of people, a tremendous and shared state of turning this around. Living together, respecting one another and supporting one another. (Grand National Chief Shawn Atleo, Guest Speaker, Vancouver Board of Trade, April 7, 2011) As a leader in my family, community and scholarly responsibilities, I begin to re/grasp my  dream-knowledges, animal knowledges and what IM involves. To do so I must once again become aware of my personal need for visual representations. To demarcate my own learning style, when peers have asked me to define the differences between methodology and method, I reach deep into my mind for that ‘most helpful’ descriptive structure: that of a small greenhouse. In the early 1990s, my family and I built a greenhouse in our back yard. In hindsight the wooden structure re/presented a methodological framework and the methods were the tools we used to build it: the 2x4 wood planks, measuring tape, saw, hammer and nails and transparent plastic sheeting. In my present work, I seek the best tangible, textual and definable—as opposed to a more abstract—framework from which to anchor my methodological underpinnings. The naming, design and piloting of participants’ invitational prompt questions are based on my/our original two research questions: “How does WAVS articulate and conceptualize its cultural components implemented as an intervention model for healing from family violence?” And, “How does the WAVS intervention model impact and support members wishing to heal from both their inter-generational and contemporary perceptions and experiences of family violence?” Participant  83  teachings are sought using an interpretive thematic analysis based on qualitatively derived data (Anderson, 2001; Barnes, 2000; Denzin, 1997), based on the following participant-invitational guide questions: Broad Introductory Questions  •  Can you tell me about the men and women who come to WAVS?  •  In your experience, what brings the women to WAVS?  •  What kinds of supports do you offer clients? (Past? Present? Prospective?)  •  Can you tell me about your experiences working with clients who access WAVS? Can you think of a time that was most successful? Most challenging?  •  In your experience, what influences Aboriginal men and women to access WAVS?  •  Are there issues specific to Aboriginal peoples seeking healing (from family violence) services?  •  What are some of the key issues that clients are dealing with when they come to WAVS? And surrounding issues?  •  What kinds of resources might new clients be looking for to feel safe?  •  What is your understanding of the kinds of services that are most helpful to Aboriginal men and women healing from family violence?  •  What resources might you know as being least helpful?  •  Do former WAVS clients stay in touch with the organizations? If they do, what are their reasons for doing so?  Legacy Questions •  If you could share your wisdom and insights about your experiences with family violence and with WAVS, what might these be?  •  Where do you see WAVS and/or yourself in five years’ time?  Closing Questions •  Is there anything you would like to share that hasn’t come up today?  •  Is there anything you would like to ask me or want me to clarify for you?  I then turn to my Elder Roberta Price for her confirmation about the respect and appropriateness of these questions. Following her approval I send them on to my Aboriginal Guidance Committee and to 84  my university supervisory committee for final feedback. Everyone concurs that my inquiries are culturally-based, respectful and responsible ones. As White, Suchowierska and Campbell (2004) contend, The first step in starting a positive relationship with potential collaborators is to approach them in a manner that shows mutual respect and equality and not ‘experimental colonialism.’ If the research project is to be conducted in an organizational setting, the researchers may start establishing linkages with an organization by identifying informants who can explain local traditions and philosophy and introduce the research[er]… . (p. 8) First, I focus on individual potential participants. Because I have attended WAVS since 2009 as a research assistant on another project for the first year, I have already built strong relationships with both staff and a number of members. Thus, I am able to personally offer both a verbal invitation and a pamphlet about the study to persons attending WAVS who are above the age of 19 (the legal age of majority in British Columbia). As well as present and past members, the agency’s facilitators also support the study by individually meeting with me for conversations. Past members are contacted by Joyce Fossella, executive director at WAVS, and offered an invitation to contact me by telephone or by email if interested in finding out further information about the study. However, I already know most participants from present and past group-night meetings. Once a potential research participant is identified and briefed on the project in person, telephone or email s/he and I set a date and time for meeting together. Our face-to-face conversations take place at a setting of his/her choice either at WAVS in the early evening before a group night meeting or in the daytime at a local café. No matter the location, I purchase or bring with me snacks and beverages for sharing. Participant demography varies in a number of ways: All but one participant self-identifies as a First Nations or Aboriginal person. Through no planned intention, 11 men and 11 women contribute to this study. Their ages range from 29 to 63 and their household incomes fall between “Nil” to above $40,000. Listed occupations include “retired from a life of crime”, counsellor, unemployed, disability pension, child-minder, social worker and Health Canada employee. At the time of our meetings I give each participant a gift card with $25 cash, two transit tickets and a single tea package (my personal signature gift to remind us of warm kitchen-visits with our ancestral and/or Elderly grandmothers). I honour participants with the same appreciations, and in addition, a gifted journal and pen when we meet for a second time to confirm, discuss and correct anything from our first recorded and transcribed conversations. Of the 22 participants in total, six of  85  eight presently attending WAVS members and two of four former attending members meet with me for a second member-checking/confirmation visit. The Tri-council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans strongly recommends “building reciprocal, trusting relationships will take time” (p. 105). Although facilitators do not have an official second visit with me, we remain in close contact through group-night meetings, board and fundraising meetings, telephone and email communication. All participants also receive a copy of their cleaned transcript. By the term ‘cleaned’ I mean that electronic files and hardcopies are combed through for identifiable markers such as names, common places, dates and some ‘ums’ and ‘ah’ pauses commonly spoken as opposed to printed. For participants who do not feel the need to meet privately with me I again offer the choice of receiving their transcript from me in person, by mail or as an email attachment (each transcript is completely anonymized before all delivery modes). As a second mode of learning, I facilitate one sharing circle (or ‘focus group’ as usually referred to in mainstream terms) that consisted of six participants led by Elder, Roberta. Although White Owl was not participant at this event, he eloquently describes the meaning of this tradition. When you sit in the circle and you share your life story that’s what brings closeness. That builds a relationship, life is a relationship. We have relationships with friends, brothers, sisters, daughters—When you sit in-group with someone and you share that story, you build that relationship. (December 9, 2010) Indigenous focus groups operate on the premise that all participants are equal, respected and offer a culturally-respectful format for participants to articulate their feelings and concerns and to learn from one another (Vedan, 2002). Although I am prepared with my guiding prompt questions, the circle held on December 1, 2010 evolves ever-more naturally into a turn-taking mode where each member simply shares about him/herself including heritage, family background and what brought him/her to WAVS and the study. The third method I practice throughout the study is participant observations, the cornerstone of many personal and meeting field notes. As previously mentioned, I have actively been attending WAVS group sessions, the co-educational (men and women) regularly, and the women’s only group occasionally. Attending the socio-education support groups are a way of forming “value-based partnership[s]” (White, Suchowierska and Campbell, 2004, p. S3). Building a foundation of trust and collaboration includes “active listening, ongoing invitations to collaborate, mutual understanding and meeting people where they are at help build this foundation” (Ochocka, Janzen and Nelson, 2002, p. 385).  86  In all, participant stories shared with me include 22 people; 30 individual conversations amounting to 50 hours of digitally recorded material; one 2-hour circle visit and one set of email exchanges (with Bruce Wood, Change of Seasons co-founder who, at the time of our communication, was living in the United States). Our transcribed conversations amass to approximately 600 pages of single-spaced text. The sheer volume and richness of lifetime knowledges that participants share is immense. Together we tease apart an onion, sometimes making us tear-up, other times not, one layer at a time. While doing so we scaffold our learning experiences one story at a time. Material emerges like baby steps— slowly, patiently, one foot in front of the other—from our series of semi-structured conversational questions meant to understand reasons WAVS has been a transformative force in participants’, their children’s and their grandchildren’s lives. My researcher learnings take life as I convert, condense and interpret 600 pages of storywork into the general size of this 200-plus page dissertation of which roughly only 60-100 pages of participant and researcher-based knowledge is discussed throughout. After attaining UBC’s Board of Ethics approval (November 24, 2010), I hold an ‘Honouring Ceremony’ at WAVS, an evening meant to explain in greater detail our evaluative purpose; encourage open dialogue between potential participants and myself; and honour those who have in some way supported my work thus far. Such celebrations at Warriors are usually family gatherings of food, friendship, recognition, gratitude and gifting. I invite members by word of mouth and event posters over the course of two prior weeks at evening the groups. I prepare and shop for enough food for 50 people and also make and purchase small gifts for 50 men, women and children, such as beaded key chains, gloves, socks, journals, candles, mugs, magnets and other little surprises. I present gift bags to some people, like community members of my guidance committee and the WAVS board of directors, co-facilitators and group members/participants like Patrick and Donna, tireless warriors who always arrive early to set up meeting room furniture, and Millie and Stephanie, daycare workers who look after members’ children while they attend groups. We begin the evening with a prayer from Elder Roberta. Upon clean up and locking building doors after the incredibly energized evening Joyce asks me, Where did you learn to put on an Honouring Ceremony like that? She seems genuinely surprised at my answer: From you, Joyce. Already considering the future, I/We plan to hold a study-completion Honouring feast in late 2012.  3.6  Methodological Tensions Throughout my work with WAVS facilitators and members, although I have not run into any  negative tensions, nevertheless, there are two main challenges that both participants and I face. The first is confidentiality and the second, I call, researcher-reality. First, in keeping to the theme that  87  Warriors has demonstrated over the years, sharing circle members indeed become like family to one another, and on a lesser scale, to myself as researcher. My/Our confidentiality is tested. It is unpreventable that some regularly-attending members become aware of each other as study participants. Honoured by the chance to help WAVS as a vital community service provider, and equally appreciative of my efforts to do likewise, they often acknowledge our planned research conversations in open spaces. Some of our visits are held within the Kiwassa Neighbourhood House in which WAVS resides. I arrive early, for instance, to meet with Gerry at 5:00 pm before a Monday group meeting and then slip out at break time around 8:00 to talk alone with Freda. Group attendees cross the meeting room to speak with one another and me during start, break times and closing to confirm, post-pone or rebook appointments with me. Some reference me during actual meetings, as David, a former member, tells all: I came tonight to help my sister (Group Meeting Field Note, November 29, 2010). They/We share commonalities as well as differences; members talk, hug, cry, validate, challenge, encourage, get annoyed with and speak highly of one another. They also exchange contact information as a sense of supportive belonging. The people in this room are your greatest resources, Joe often reiterates. I consider this a valuable affirmation: What he is doing is encouraging people to rely on one another, to reach out if they are in difficulty, to telephone and to trust the people in this room, on this particular evening, Joe states, ‘In this room we are all teachers.’ He asks, ‘Who will you be teacher to?’ So he really is challenging healing and wellness and passing on our knowledge and good medicines (i.e. attitudes, learnings and teachings) that are all positive—making sure that we share our ‘good medicine’ with others. (Group Meeting Field Note, September 27, 2010) Few secrets exist within this kind of communal environment. The second tension I note throughout the study also resides in relations and is that which I refer to as researcher-reality. It sometimes involves only that relationship with myself; other times with participants and myself in our conversations together. I offer a few examples below:  •  From my Personal Field Note about Patsy and my conversation: Here’s a huge learning curve in that literally, she calls me on something and then I agree and call myself on it too. I assume that her continuing education program she is signing up fo, would probably be at Native Education College, simply because my friend Roberta is taking NEC’s 2-year Aboriginal Tourism program, and another participant is  88  enrolled in their 2-year Community Counselling program. Patsy is gentle with me but yeah, I sure blew that one. (December 17, 2010)  •  From my Researcher, Personal Field Note about meeting with Gerry: When I phone him to book our appointment with him, he says something about ‘not feeling the greatest.’ So I say, ‘Oh, that’s not good. What do you think’s going on that you’re not feeling good lately?’ He replies, ‘Ah, has our interview started over the phone now?’ I feel quite startled; I am simply calling as a friendly reminder. Although I apologize to Gerry, I feel as though Gerry is taking me to task by letting me know that I crossed a line, a place in which he is not willing to go. (December 5, 2010)  •  From my second visit with David: I was reading our conversation and you were talking about your disappointment in confidentiality on a few occasions and I just wondered more about that. As researcher, I seem to have little hesitation about jumping right into a contentious topic. Not necessarily a negative move but certainly one based on strong relationships with participants. (February 28, 2011)  •  From Patrick and my visit: When he shares that he and Donna have plans to visit her family back East at Christmas time: I chide him, ‘So would this be a first for you, flying without cuffs and a trench coat draped over your wrists?’ But he holds his own, ‘Yeah, Con-Air, been on that airline before.’ (December 8, 2010)  The last tension I wholistically experience throughout this dissertational process is more personal. Reflecting upon my doctoral/researcher role now expected to stake a bolder claim to ownership of the important work that WAVS and I research, interpret and contribute to the field of health, I feel somewhat cautious about ‘owning’ my learnings. Indeed, I have learned that when attaching my name to research, community engagement, scholarly writing or to mentoring Aboriginal students, I do so with the 5 Rs of IRE, integrity and meaningful effort. By demonstrating my commitment to sharing my revelations and perceptions of Indigenous knowledges that help to define new directions for Aboriginal-based education, I believe my academic/communal engagements contribute to transforming awareness and opportunities for all.  89  Here, I offer two examples. I had not set out to write an entire 4-year dissertation in the present tense. It was not until half way through proofreading one of my first full-length drafts that I discovered I was doing so; it was then that I began the more concentrated effort to hone this uniqueness. Shunryu Suzuki (2011) describes concentrative action in this way: When you do something, if you fix your mind on the activity with some confidence, the quality of your state of mind is the activity itself. When you are concentrating on the quality of your being, you are prepared for the activity (p. 93). The Zen monk does not refer at all to ownership but to the quality of knowing what it is we are doing through awareness. When contributing to Monday evening potlatch dinners at WAVS meetings, I had not decided to become the ‘dessert lady’, as Patrick so-named me. But soon after noticing the wholesome foods like salads, chicken, shepherd’s pies and lasagna being served, I thought if any members are like me, they too might appreciate appeasing our sweet tooth cravings with the occasional fruit pie, trifle or cheese cake. When I began this project with WAVS I had not knowingly imposed any Indigenous Collaborative Research (ICR) values until I progressively discovered I am living them. Some include mundane chores of buying materials, photocopying and stuffing file folders with a journal, a commitment-to-self contract and a control plan safety outline for new members. Through the wisdom of educators like Drs. Jo-ann Archibald, Hartej Gill and Peter Cole at UBC and the participants, I recognize myself not a Knowledge ‘keeper’ or ‘owner’ but as a knowledge ‘doer’ and ‘sharer’. Ponder this notion: If I were to draw with a felt marker a circle on a white board and ask viewers what it is, some would likely say a circle, a ring, a round diagram, even a donut hole. However, I would suggest it is also a board with a hole in it. While many researchers might still focus on the drawn circle, I choose to focus on the backdrop. This is the essence of ICR, the very background upon which everything else leans when conceiving and conducting Aboriginalcentered research.  3.7  Concluding Discussion Collaborative Research is the olive branch—hold it out and offer your support. ~ Roberta (Personal Communication, May 3, 2010) The term ‘to extend an Olive branch’ has biblical origins and is generally understood to mean  an offer of peace or reconciliation. In Ancient Greek and Roman times, people would offer literal Olive branches. In Rome, for example, defeated armies traditionally carried Olive branches to 90  indicate that they were surrendering and the Greeks incorporated Olive branches into weddings and other ceremonies. In contemporary times the Olive branch usually incites metaphorical, rather than literal meaning. Moreover, while some might suggest that it takes an immense amount of courage and heavy-heartedness to extend an Olive branch, I understand my Coast Salish Elder, to mean something else. Rather, in our paper, “Collaborative Research is an Olive Branch—Hold it out and Offer your Unconditional Support” (Lester-Smith, Martin, Parent and Price, 2012), we authors iterate ourselves with hope and gratitude for the positive changes in Aboriginal communities for their renewed health and wellbeing. In this methodological chapter, I explore a re/discovery of what relationality and adaptability mean to me and therefore, plausibly to other Aboriginal peoples with whom I live near and/or work side-by-side. Whatever knowledges I am blessed to learn I pass forward, as do my/our Ancestors, friends, Roberta, Joe and Joyce and Aboriginal scholars who trust me with their cultural teachings. As a reminder, the questions to which I seek explanations throughout this dissertation are (1) What does an Indigenous methodology look like that combines Indigenous knowledges, Aboriginal storytelling and ICR? And, (2) How can this newly defined extension of Indigenous methodology facilitate urban Aboriginal peoples’ health and healing from domestic violence? Throughout the chapter, I convey some of the values I deem inextricably woven into the fabric of ICR. Implicit in the cornerstone methodology and methods of my/our collaboration are considerations about some of the features of storytelling in research; how Aboriginal peoples’ storytelling may inform and/or impact community research; what contributions participants might make to research that matters most to them; and what ways storytelling in research can arise through a collaborative approach. As explained in my theoretical and methodological chapters, Indigenous knowledges and storytelling stand on the pediment of Indigenous Knowledge Systems. Such ancestral ways of knowing and being lead me to propose that Aboriginal storytelling positively affects urban Aboriginal peoples’ healing from family violence. The nature of IKS and Indigenous storytelling may bring together Western forms of research, ICR and various researchers from diverse contexts like academe, Aboriginal organizations, Aboriginal communities and healthcare providers. I also explore Indigenous and Western methodological paradigms that can inter-connectedly shape Aboriginal peoples’ health and healing. By interfacing the figurative Medicine Wheel with relationality and adaptability I contend that commonsensical-collaborative research can positively contribute to urban Aboriginal peoples’ lives. I learn from Elders, scholars and animals who continue to emphasize commonsense—defined as wise thinking that is independent of specialized knowledge or training. Throughout the research processes of writing my comprehensive essays and volunteering closely with  91  WAVS, I witness Aboriginal peoples’ relational and adaptable means of well-being. Participants and I are discovering and sharing such ways throughout this dissertation. I caution, here, that key concepts of relationality and adaptibility can be misconstrued as definitions of the term ‘relate to every consumer’ regardless of ethnicity, gender and/or age, or to reach populations that were previously uninterested in philosophies, services or products whereby adaption is not organic. As a researcher, I remain vigilant that colonial ways of healing are not repackaged for Aboriginal peoples disguised as their own cultural practices. Bringing together multiple cultural practices in order to accomplish healing will not be effective for everyone involved until the practices are recognized on equal footing. Western culture is notorious for appropriating elements of other cultures around the world, revising them into a simplified form and then re-presenting them as products or services that appear to authentically come from their place of origin—but, are inherently Western in ideological basis. Such products seem to overlook, among other things, that human existence is not individualistic. In the case of healing, it is a process of constant renegotiation with the people and environment in which one lives. Consequently, a commonly recounted 12-step program to improve our Spiritual/Emotional/Physical/Intellectual dimensions of wellness, and is not likely sustainable without the interconnectedness with communities and necessary health policy changes. Alternatively, were the WAVS intervention model to become recognized and appropriately taught as successful, it could instigate an abundance of local and national organizations seeking to implement Indigenous knowledges and wholistic ways of healing, a move that would be greatly welcomed by all warriors against violence.  92  Chapter 4: WAVS’ Teachings  I'm sitting on an isolated beach in Sechelt up the Sunshine Coast North of Vancouver, after coming home with a friend for a writing-retreat weekend. She’s gone for a walk along the beach to find treasures. It was about a hundred steps down to the beach from her parent’s cottage; the last ten to twenty stairs are actually a wooden ladder where I have to climb down with my bottom facing the ocean, a long enough hike down that I don't have the energy to walk along the sand, the pebbles, the bigger rocks, the driftwood debris and larger logs without falling or hurting so I'm staying put for a while. I can see rocks for miles, water for eternity and white cumulous clouds layering the horizon. The ocean is calm. The seagulls perched at the Pacific's edge are quiet while other birds are slowly forming an orchestra. It strikes me how the birds and the wind and the beach and the living driftwood and the rocks, none of them are judgmental. None of them imply, ‘Well, you're certainly off-key today.’ They do not criticize one another for interrupting or offering a sound at the right or wrong time. How contrary humans are. That's all we do is judge and criticize and compare. We ego-size one another, determine whether we fit into this or that cacophony of life. (Personal Field Note, June 3, 2011)  4.1  Context In this chapter, I investigate the challenges that WAVS members have encountered, including  prison sentences and poverty lasting for decades; others are painful memories of residential school or family violence/suicide that they carry throughout life. I observe how facilitators encourage a setting for members to speak of these challenges in which judgment is withheld and individuals feel comfortable rather than comparative with or against each other. I believe that this collaborative healing arises from the cultural component of WAVS—its intervention practices based on Aboriginal rituals like storytelling. This is not to say that collaborative healing exists uniquely within Aboriginal culture; it is to say that when people are allowed to use their own cultural practices (rather than foreign practices) to heal, they feel part of a community with shared experiences and understandings and recognize how their community’s knowledge tools, passed down from Elders, can help them negotiate through some dissentions of life. In other words because the agency’s members all learn, experience, assess and plausibly follow the WAVS intervention model designed to diminish violence among many First Nations families, each participant in this study, can and does express 93  understandings of contextual, cultural healing practices. I write this chapter to express, through the participants, implicitly or explicitly, what the WAVS model represents to them as they seek ways to heal from domestic violence. By sharing what participants teach me during our conversations together and through group participation at WAVS, we address the first of my/our two research questions: How does WAVS articulate and conceptualize its cultural components and their importance of being implemented and received as an intervention model for healing from family violence? For my readers’ ease, I leave a second reminder of who project participants are: Gerry, Freda, Patrick, Donna, White Owl, Melanie, Terry and Ryan are/were present WAVS members; David, Michael, Patsy and M. are past WAVS members; Roberta Price, Millie, Stephanie and Stuart are sharing circle participants; Joe and Joyce Fossella, Dan and Gail Parker and Leslie Nelson are/were co-facilitators of the agency; and, Bruce Wood is the former program designer the Change of Seasons Program in Squamish, BC. I/We begin with each of the four directional and physiological dimensions of the Medicine Wheel, explored in chapters 2 and 3. By scaffolding upon Indigenous Knowledge Systems, the symbolic Medicine Wheel and the participants’ complex stories, I can now add three subthemes in th  each of the four directional quadrants along with a central 5 realm, the Sacred-self. Based on participant-knowledges, in the East are Earth, Spiritual and Children; in the South are Emotions, Fire and Youth; in the West are Physical, Water and Adults; and lastly, in the North are Intellectual, Air/Universe and Elders/Ancestors. Each of these twelve categories is not exclusive of one another. Some stories are unique, while others remain all too familiar. Participant teachings resonate within most, if not all four of the dimensions and subsequent sub-realms. While all participants share meaningful contributions to multiple sections, within dissertation confinements, I cannot illustratively voice each person’s individual themes. Herein lie my researcher-responsibilities to tease apart and choose the most salient life-stories that best fit within each realm. Indeed, I question myself amid our conversations together as to how much intimately personal, historical complex trauma I should be privileged to know in relation to learning about WAVS as a contemporary, seemingly vital, community organization. To White Owl I reflect, Our conversation seems a long way from Warriors, yet it’s not, is it? He supports, It’s all part of it. It’s all part of that stuff. You know, people who are in Warriors Against Violence, your life can’t be only that. People have still got to live. (December 9, 2010)  94  He encourages that people who participate in WAVS are people first—with complex lives and interests that seem to converge when they meet at WAVS for healing. Key teachings of this study suggest that in order to better support families wishing to understand the negative legacies of colonialism in Canada and to heal from such systemic violence, the components of the Medicine Wheel should be revisited in more detail. Let us now travel around it with Figure 4.1’s structural guidance, below, much like the Earth rotates around the Sun. Although there is not necessarily a right or wrong starting point, for the purposes of cohesion I start in the East, the dawning of awareness, as Donna, a participant, calls her healing journey.  95  Figure 4.1:  The Symbolic Medicine Wheel of Health, Wholeness and Harmony  96  4.2  Participatory Healing At WAVS  4.2.1  Sacred-Self: It’s brought me a lot more peace and promise. ~ Terry People care, even if it is negative or positive. People do care if they talk about your name; at least somebody is talking about you. Now today I enjoy life, I enjoy coming to talk to you, to give time to explain what I learned. I learned lots about myself because I attended [Warriors], I spoke about me, about my past. Mistakes I made and how that helped me to not go back to my mistakes. Instead, to carry on ... to educate myself. ~ David (Former Member, February 18, 2011) Our selves continually strive for wholism whereby “‘full-mindedness’ [is] the union of mind  and heart, of intellect and intuition” (Rheault, 2000, p. 5). The philosophy of the self is paramount to Indigenous peoples because we think and experience with our whole being (Archibald, 2008; Cole, 2003; Cajeté, 2000; Gill, 2003). To do otherwise is to experience discontent and disruption in our balanced Medicine Wheel and in our lives. To a friend I mention, I feel as though my Medicine Wheel has a flat tire. In which realm? he asks me. All, I admit. Physically, I’m losing mobility and gaining awkwardness, tiredness and pain. Spiritually, I’m facing efforts to be grateful for life and to honour myself with innovative ideas and adaptable practices. Emotionally and intellectually, I’m drained. (Personal Communication, April 27, 2011) Consequently, I need to adjust my spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual wellness in accordance with my evolving experiences and perceptions. Another intimate Sacred-self is to understand the self as a part of a couple in the way that Patrick and Donna teach me. Not only do they seek to improve themselves as individuals, but also as life-partners; and WAVS appears to be the accepting environment in which they can trust one another and circle members while doing so. Although I do not intentionally set out to survey gender similarities and/or differences of healing perspectives, Patrick and Donna guide me towards this seemingly monumental task. Because they travel together to both our places of conversation, as Patrick’s and my first visit wind down, Donna  97  returns and joins our discussion. Patrick begins with a significant point of reflection about WAVS in their lives. I think one of the biggest things for me is that I am learning to take responsibility, not just for myself but also as a couple. I do share that I was abusive to her – I was very, very abusive towards my partner. I don’t only say that to me but I also validate…validate her, like I look at her and say, ‘I was very abusive to my partner.’ So when I look at her, I’m looking at her as a couple not just me as an individual but I also include her into the conversation; and I’m not hiding—I’m not hiding anything from the group. I’m very open. I’m doing everything I can to be as open as possible to be that responsible person. To be respectful because I don’t want to continue these kinds of behaviors. And this is what the program is teaching me. This is what I believe Warriors is basically wanting to teach me. Not just about the program itself – it’s not just about the lessons. But it’s what I’m learning from the group. I want that [relational matter of being a couple] to be ingrained in me. (December 3, 2012) Patrick and Donna view the self as the relational other; the unification of a couple into one and portray a powerful, simultaneous understanding of Sacred-self-couplehood. Patrick explores a yearning to being a whole relational self as a couple. For Donna, The [WAVS’] focus is very much on preventing violence and preventing abuse and I sometimes wish it could focus a little more on what it’s like to be with a partner of the abuser (December 3, 2010). As the two take turns sharing considerations other participants do not, Patrick continues, A lot of the times when she says something, first thing she shared with me was, ‘How did you appreciate me sharing that?’ And I said, ‘We came to a compromise that anything that was shared in there was meant to be shared’. We are an open book. So no matter what she shared about, whether it was abuse I’d done to her, she has that ability if she wants to. Really, that’s hers to share. In order to me to learn how to conduct myself is to be a part of that responsibility because it’s out in the open now—I have nothing to hide. So I did something to her that caused her pain and this is a group that we come to as couples—we come there as people, partners. If my partner wants to share something I’m not obligated to say, ‘No you can’t share that.’ It’s up to her if she wants to share that. But she always asks me, ‘Is it okay if I share it.’ And I will tell her, ‘You know what, it’s okay for you to share it’ because our relationship is learning to be like an open book. That’s the way I want our relationship. (December 3, 2012)  98  Living a relationship like an ‘open book’ is metaphorical on a number of levels such as respect, trust, responsibility, giving and sharing. Opening that ‘book’ seems to be the awakening that both Donna and Patrick practice along their dual paths of increasing wellness. Donna responds, One of the things that help us, too, is if I share there, I get validated by the group and Patrick learns that I’m not the only one who has those feelings. I’ll say, ‘You know, when this happened I felt this’. You know, sometimes other women will be like, ‘Wow, that happened to me too and I felt the same way.’ And I’m like, ‘Ok, it’s not just me, I’m not crazy. Other females react the same way.’ I think maybe for the other women listening, when they hear me share about the affect the abuse had on me that sometime they’ll think, ‘Oh, okay, she’s brave enough to talk about it, maybe I’ll speak about it too.’ (December 3, 2012) Group sharing also seems to have an impact on their level of responsibility to their self, their partner and any social others within their trusted circle of members at WAVS. Such notions may further stem from the facilitators themselves whose model of healing the self involves rejection of blame and the inner search for accountability and responsibility for one’s life choices, whether single or in a relationship.  4.2.2  East: Why am I so violently angry? ~ Gerry Earth  We have a traditional saying, which means if nobody know how they lived on this earth or what they’d done to you, once they’ve passed away you let all that stuff leave with them. That’s where I am today. Releasing [my dad]. For my own self, I can’t carry those things with me – I just can’t. Because they’re not mine. ~ White Owl (Present Member, December 9, 2010)  Earth, known as Mother Earth by many Aboriginal peoples, is an element situated at the centre of our existence. The earth, in its very nature, is at rest and at peace, absent of subjugation. It is important that we are “relating to, rather than mastering, nature and the environment” (Dei, 2000, p. 74).  99  I’ve been thinking about the ways in which I touch with my spirit and nature. Despite the fact that UBC and a lot of urban living is composed of much concrete and hardness and almost a sense of tension, I wonder, ‘Where does mother nature go to when you have a big metropolitan city surrounding you? How do I now handle this?’ Number one I walk on grass whenever possible. My feet need a rest; my body needs a rest; my mind and my ancestral spirit needs a rest upon the softness of walking on grass. In Autumn, my favourite season, I refer to the sidewalks as a ‘concrete sandwich’—Mother Earth beneath the cement and then topping the sidewalks are fallen, yet still vibrant leaves destined for home to cyclically nurture the earth. (Personal Field Note, October 8, 2009). Weston (1938) is concerned with our earthen nature in this way: It seems so utterly naive that landscape – not that of the pictorial school – is not considered ‘social significance’ when it has a far more important bearing on the human race of a given locale than excrescences called cities. By landscape, I mean every physical aspect of a given region – whether soil, wildflowers, mountain peaks – and its affect on the psyche and physical appearance of the people. My landscapes of the past year are years in advance of any I have done before or any I have seen. (p. 48) Aikenhead and Ogawa (2007) explain that land and Aboriginal peoples do not simply coexist; they are one in the same, just as White Owl and my conversation reveals. The participant explains his core being in relation to his identity and location, showing me his Aboriginal Status card from his wallet: Well, it’s kind of like my birthright. I hear you saying your birth right in the sense of taking ownership and being proud. (December 9, 2010) White Owl answers me, the ever-curious researcher, with patience and further details of his Cree pride. He directs me to understand that his birthright, evidenced by his status card, reaffirms his connection to his people and their land, being so tied to the land heritage-wise that one does not leave  100  it. Chief Dan George, a chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, a Coast Salish band located on Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver, BC declares these words of love for this land. How long have I known you, oh Canada? A hundred years? Yes, a hundred years. And many many seelanum more. And today, when you celebrate your hundred years, oh Canada, I am sad for all the Indian people throughout the land. For I have known you when your forests were mine; when they gave me my meat and my clothing. I have known you in your streams and rivers where your fish flashed and danced in the sun, where the waters said come, come and eat of my abundance. I have known you in the freedom of your winds. And my spirit, like the winds, once roamed your good lands. (Canada's Centennial Celebration, Vancouver, 1967) M. discusses the elements of land in a surprisingly different way. As a child, M. turned to taking out her anger and hurt in an unfamiliar way. At the age of ten, she returned home from residential school and became destructive. For some strange reason, I liked breaking glass. I broke my mother’s windows, I broke the jars, I broke the dishes. I just wanted to break everything (March 3, 2011). The most common kind of glass, in windows, serving dishes and drinking ware, is composed of about 75% silica and several minor additives. Silica, a form of silicon, one of the most common elements on earth is found in rocks and stones within the earth’s crust (Silica Minerals, 2012). When I ask if she had any ideas about being drawn to glass, she wittily puts that one back on the researcher’s shoulders with an off-the-cuff, I have no idea—you tell me. After a pause, however, she adds that she and her mom talked about it years later. I couldn’t figure out why I wanted to break glass. The question M. poses to me is rhetorical, of course and nothing I can offer could be as personally conjectured as her final surmise: Maybe it was an alternative to wanting to break myself (March 3, 2011).  Spiritual Being a First Nations person, we’re a very spiritual people. We are all interconnected, with our lives, with our world, with our environment. ~ Terry (Present Member, March 16, 2011) For many Indigenous peoples, my/our spirituality may involve prayer, meditation, smudging, sweatlodges, Elders’ wisdom, drumming, song, dance, a connection to the land and tradition (Waldram, 1994; Martel and Brassard, 2008). Case in point, Patrick is inspired or in-spirited, by Dan 101  and Joe as Elder-role models at WAVS and recognizes their transformative powers of Indigenous spirituality and adaptability in the ways they change negative behaviours into renewed, positive ones. I learned … one thing that I’m learning is how Dan used to pray. How he used to express himself. He spoke from his heart. He was able to transform his energy into somebody else. He’d pray for all the directions. Joe prays for people who are on the street, he prays for people that are in the spirit world. He doesn’t forget and if he forgets he says, ‘If I’ve forgotten anything, forgive me.’ (February 16, 2010) Donna also confirms, One of the things that’s unique for the Warriors that’s totally lacking in these White, Caucasian therapy programs is that we have spirituality and ritual and I think that’s crucial to why that program is so powerful. Patrick and I make a point to incorporate ritual into our daily lives … [they] are like a skeleton for the day … They’re comforting. (December 3, 2010) Comforting and welcoming, she reminds me of the first WAVS group night I attend, cleanse with burning sage and sweetgrass and pray together with other WAVS members, as mentioned earlier in chapter 1. Although Joyce takes care of new members letting them know smudging, and/or any other Indigenous rite of participation is voluntary, I, am no different than most new members in WAVS’ Monday evening circles who seek to embrace spirituality. Meaningful rituals, even amongst strangers at first, involve a certain level of trust and acceptance when getting to know one another and ourselves. In Aboriginal culture, the sharing circle, the feather and the respect of taking turns to speak and to fully listen are new to some people and traditional for others, depending on age and circumstances. For those encountering them for the first time, it is necessary to present these healing tools as culturally-relevant—more than anger management—tools that reinforce our collective understanding of Indigenous worldviews and our ancestral/spiritual connectedness to one another and our past, present and future. An example of a healing tool that speaks to this connectedness comes from WAVS youth leader, Ryan, who demonstrated his martial arts skills at WAVS event. Throughout his demonstration, he respectfully acknowledges the safety rules of the ‘time out’ strategy of avoiding all physical labor like chopping wood, boxing bags or seemingly harmless gun target practice in a field. These are all aggressive actions and build up aggression and heightened emotions, as I wrote about in chapter 2.  102  Ryan windedly explains, as he kicks and punches the very air we breath, he prayerfully dedicates each and every one of his rhythmic moves, punches and kicks, to a person about whom he thinks (not of attacking that person but of honouring him or her with that particular martial arts move). He says of these artistic, calculated moves, ‘They help me to commit to my dedication to help my community.’ Furthermore, he described martial arts as a way he prays and gives gratitude to the Creator. (Group Meeting Field Note, April 29, 2010) Nearly one year later, I ask Ryan about spirituality among the youth. He explains, I’m seeing that they’re happy about it. They’re intrigued, this is something new to them. Like the smudging for example, they’re asking, like what is this for, I like the smell of it, the cleansing aspect of it (March 18, 2011). Within WAVS, spirituality is inextricably tied to healing. However, as Joe, facilitator, reminds group members, he is not here to make ‘born-again Indians’ out of us. He encourages that while people are of different faiths and spirituality, the WAVS philosophy rests on the symbolic Medicine Wheel because of its wholistic balance and harmonious ways of being, regardless of our ethnicity. Likewise, Melanie demonstrates with her children that healing/protection rituals such as smudging/cleansing can have a revitalizing effect: They call it cleaning up. ‘Oh, you’ve got to clean up now. We’ve got to wash ourselves off now.’ That’s what they say because I smudge with them now. And they get excited when we do it. It’s nice to see the joy in their faces when they’re doing it, that they know how to do it. (March 10, 2011) Spiritual re/awakening and re/connection for this family comes in the form of WAVS traditional Intervention model, cultural reverence and cleansing. I think of another child-warrior from my Group Meeting Field Notes: Someone catches my heart tonight is a mom bringing her 3-year-old son to group night for opening prayers. He later goes downstairs to daycare. But it’s really quite sweet: he’s 3years old and when we all stand to smudge and pray this young fellow also smudges. In this instance, it is sage burning in an abalone shell and then the smoke is being feathered by the man as he goes around to each person in the circle. This little guy takes his turn, too and he  103  puts his little fingers into the smoke and pulls it in towards his head and his heart and his face and it’s really something to watch him do this. Almost a message that thank goodness, tradition is not lost. (October 18, 2010) Such demonstrations of reverence suggest that programs that involve spirituality can assist in rejuvenating the soul as a part of healing. Spiritual grounding can provide a formidable healing foundation on a day-to-day basis of coping with inter-generational trauma. Melanie tells me, I think Warriors and the church [I attend] together helped me to remember my ancient roots and keep it really close to my heart and it’s really important that I remember where I’m from even though I’m [living] way the hell in Vancouver and my reserve is all the way outside of Vancouver. (March 10, 2011) The notion of Indigenous peoples being connected to all parts/forms of life in spirit and with interrelational energy of one's common culture is the synergy about which both parents and children of WAVS speak.  Children I love kids, I love dogs and I love cats. I love animals. They give me a sense of joy. Because they don’t bring into this world anger or resentment or anything like that. They just are. So they give me a sense of joy. Little kids are like that because they haven’t gotten to that place of, uh, knowing how to give resentment or get people angry. They’re just human beings. ~ Patrick (Present Member, December 8, 2010) In the above epigraph, Patrick links his present life with children and animals. I ask him, How do you celebrate yourself? You just said, ‘I’m not a weak person, I’m a survivor.’ Can you tell me more? A lot of what we carry is mirrored. I find a lot of what other people are doing hurts me. It’s just like, if somebody is being angry at a child, I feel a sense of anger because that was done to me as a kid. (February 14, 2011)  104  In Patrick, there seems an awareness of the importance of children; they re/present some of the love, affection and belonging that he never had and continues to long for. He also demonstrates what might happen to an adult’s life when the source of one’s self-beginning toward awakening is disrupted. An awakening of the present self in past childhood years can mean psychological confusion. For instance, Patrick has the wisdom to recognize that in some ways, he is developmentally immature. The residential school ruined my inhibitions [inclinations] to be a child; it ruined my inhibitions to be an adult. I don’t know whether I’m a child or an adult now. I’m learning to grow; I’m learning to grow-up, to mature more (February 16, 2011). Gail’s growing-up experiences include transforming a children’s game of hide-and-seek into a child’s coping mechanism of survival. She recalls the violence being inescapable. There was always violence. That was the norm, you know. But I knew it wasn’t normal, even though it was always like that. Because if I thought it was normal I wouldn’t have had the fear, I don’t think. I had such fear. I was always scared. I learned at a young age how to protect myself and how to hide—I looked for things to try and cover up my body the most. (December 9, 2010) The necessity of learning, of knowing, the safest locations for hiding from violence, can be paramount for a child witnessing violence. As with most people, survival is innate. I ask Gail, You’d go into hiding before somebody would spot you—what or who sent this little girl into hiding? Well, nobody—I just knew. (December 9, 2010) From Gail’s past, fear exposes the abnormality of violence. Yet the need for agencies such as WAVS reflects that not everyone, least of all a child, ‘just knows’ how to protect themselves. Melanie reflects on her parenting interactions with her children and how she engages with them. I ask her to share about each of her five children. She is most clear about one salient matter—how much WAVS has helped her entire family.  105  Warriors helps me get close to [my 2-year old son] not having that closeness with my mom because my mom was really distant with us … My five year-old daughter … I find myself being a better mother to her, just understanding what girls’ needs are … Warriors helps me to stick by my five year-old daughter more, allowing her to be a little girl, make a mistake, things I would typically get a spanking for. Then there’s my six year-old son … Warriors helps me to help keep him my little man because it is always constant for me to, you know, teaching him manners, for him to listen and know what respect is for women. My eight year old son, I think Warriors helps me to break my silence and my denial that I held for a long time—because of the fact that while I was carrying my eight year old son I used alcohol, so there was a great risk of him being FASD. With my 12 year-old daughter, Warriors teaches me to listen to her, to ask more questions when I feel puzzled about things … I was pretty shut down. I didn’t know how to open up my mind and really take it seriously that she is my life and I gotta listen to her. That’s how we communicate—just having a healthy communication. (March 10, 2011) This single-parented family shows the breaking of an old cycle, although not easy, can mean new, positive and healthy realities. It was overwhelming at first but it was almost like being able to listen to the little girl in me; something I never had with my mom, being able to say those kinds of things to her without her getting angry or throwing things at me or dragging me around by my hair–to have an open mind and how I need to do that with my kids, with my everyday life as well. (March 10, 2011) Like Melanie, David too focuses on family: I pass [WAVS teachings] on to my grandsons … And I’m real proud of my girls, how they do with my grandchildren … they keep them in school, educate them. They’re always happy to see me. ‘There’s my grandpa.’ [they say] and it’s a good feeling. When I used to use, I used to go home. I used coke or heroine or drugs, different pills. The kids would look at me and they would take off, leave. They didn’t want to be a part of me. And now today they want to talk, they want to be around me. (February 28, 2011)  106  Patsy discusses her negative childhood familial dynamics and lack of parental necessities. My grandmother was really a busy woman and she left us in the care of our Aunties and our Aunties were younger women and they were setting off on their own and partying and stuff. Sometimes they would leave us, like, neglect us for days on end. Then stuff happened to me and my sisters and brothers because child sexual abuse is a crime of convenience. An adult came along and you leave a kid unattended—It was an awful environment—it was a really awful environment. (December 17, 2010) Where such open neglect of children may be surprising, especially in the face of so many adults/family members, often childrearing responsibilities were abandoned and placed upon youth themselves. It’s as if the children were a work-task that everyone conveniently thought was someone else’s responsibility. We were raised with indifference, Patsy concludes. Brendtro, Brokenleg and Van Bockern (1991) argue that long before modern science, First Nations peoples of North America used sophisticated, child development strategies designed to nurture caring, respectful and courageous children who were raised by parents who had genderdistinct, yet mutually significant roles in supporting their children and others. Traditionally, Aboriginal peoples focused less on gender/parent-role differentiations and more on family unity, as WAVS re/enforces. Colonialism has cumulatively disrupted the vital ways that culture positively effects Indigenous child development across the last five centuries. Participant storywork demonstrates the necessity for a return to culturally-relevant knowledge transference between adults and children. The authors voice that strong communities were created, which, at the core, included Elders. Presently, as keepers of traditional, ancestral knowledge, Indigenous Elders are privileged transmitters of deeply held norms, values, beliefs and attitudes. Their guidance continues to result in effective child rearing practices in which underlying value systems support the processes of positive youth development. Families and communities that foster positive child development are necessary to carry on these traditions that have existed since time immemorial. Grand National Chief Shawn Atleo reminds us, ‘Failing to invest in our young population will result in dramatically increased social costs as well as, of course as I said, lost potential… We cannot have another generation lost’ (Guest Speaker, Vancouver Board of Trade, April 7, 2011). Indeed, it is not surprising that for Aboriginal families, wholistic health and wellness is not viewed and measured individually but by the integrity of the whole family—and more broadly—their communities (Archibald, 2008; Armstrong, 2000; Brokenleg and Van Bockern, 2003). However, with family men too often incarcerated, the integrity and therefore, health and wellness of the family is  107  compromised. Women are left more susceptible to oppressive forces that exasperate the conditions for state apprehension of children and incarceration of youth. Through these experiences, Aboriginal children may then feel like they do not belong and may become angry, guarded, withdrawn and face health issues that may lead to perpetual stress and states of loss, for their lives are out of balance (Brokenleg and Van Bockern, 2003, p. 25). Joe offers this familial example at a WAVS group night: Tonight Joe shares a story about how his two sons were scorned at school and did not fully understand why and as they grew up, did not always make the best decisions [based on those negative experiences]. He tells of a time when his sons had ‘International Day’ at school. The boys’ choices were, did they want to dress Italian like their grandfather or Indigenous like Joe [of Italian, Hawaiian, Sechelt Nation heritage]. The boys chose to wear Indigenous regalia but when they got to school, classmates, even their friends turned on them because that was the’cool thing to do’, to shun the Indian boys. So the boys came back from school very, very hurt and disappointed and feeling like they didn’t fit in. (Group Meeting Field Note, March 21, 2011) Madeline Dion Stout, on the “Aboriginal Healing Foundation and The Legacy of Hope Foundation” website (2012), reminds us (as mentioned earlier in this paper) that poverty includes so much more than a lack of money, food, clothing and shelter. Poverty, for many Indigenous peoples, also includes loss of culture, familial love, traditions, languages, safety, identity, belonging, generational relationships (i.e. cultural teachings passed on) and spiritual connectedness with nature. Clearly, the Fossella boys were racialized into cultural poverty.  4.2.3  South: It’s all about survival. ~ Michael Fire  [If] you were to walk downtown Vancouver and stop people on the street and ask them, ‘What are First Nations People?’ Ninety percent would say, ‘I don’t know.’ They’d say, ‘Oh, there is Native art, there’s Totem poles, there’s this and that.’ They have no idea who we are or what we’ve been through because it’s being hidden from the public … But there will always be that paranoid fear. ~ Gerry (Present Member, February 14, 2011) This section of severe passion and tension is devoted solely to participants’ passionate stories about three cornerstone themes: racism, residential schooling and incarceration. I awake this morning 108  with diverging thoughts about my writing style that situates myself, as researcher, embedded with participants in our spiritually-connective narratives. Why question myself now? And if so, what manner of storywork might best suit the Southern sub-dimensions of emotion and fire? Participants’ stories are rich beyond comprehension, regardless of how I might narrate them. Indeed, such personal considerations about racism, systemic, illogical education and correctional institutionalization do not need my explicit definitions, voice or commentary. By stepping aside, I strive to spotlight the multiple compelling stories about which participants graciously teach—and patiently await—my learnings. Buffy Sainte Marie, musician and Aboriginal education activist, has simply stated, ‘Know when to get out of the way’ (Guest Speaker, UBC, March 5, 2012). It is the right time for these stories of fury to be spoken for themselves, through the participants’ individual and collective hearts as ones of tension, friction, emotional agony and personal truths. They are colliding thoughts about the past, present and future lingerings and negative legacies of the Western education system of residential schools. The colonial, residential and/or day-school ‘education’ system was designed to “continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question and no Indian department” as Duncan Campbell Scott, an early 20th century senior official with Indian Affairs, infamously declares (Aboriginal Healing Foundation and The Legacy of Hope Foundation, 2012). Now we hear what participants have to say about such lifedefining experiences.  Racism Patrick I try and pay attention to how I conduct myself. I can’t go around disrespecting people or dishonouring people just because I have a lot of anger or a lot of rage. I still have to learn how to be a better human being. There’s a lot of things that I don’t like in communities or in society that I find are contradicting. I’m not perfect, I still have a sort of sickness in my mind. I don’t know how to live life on life’s terms yet. One of the biggest things that I have to learn is how to respect women and children. Come back to those sorts of teachings in order for me to live, to live amongst others in a good way. And respect all races because I find that I have a racist mind and a racist ear. I say Chinese and Chink and Japanese and Hindus; I still have those sayings, I picked it up somewhere; it’s a form of violence that I don’t appreciate. It’s about our perception. Because it was done to me [racism], I didn’t appreciate it. I don’t think that these brothers and sisters appreciate it, you know. (February 16, 2011)  109  Michael I’ll share this story, one of the most embarrassing or low points for me. My father wasn’t in our life a whole lot. He came to the hockey rink when I was playing hockey and he looks like he just walked off the res, right, so I was so embarrassed because the kids would go, ‘Oh he’s your father, I didn’t know you were an Indian.’ And then the name [-calling started]. I was so angry and embarrassed that he was my father. (December 9, 2010) Patsy The residential school that we went to, it was really close by to our home, so we were bused there and taken back home, so we were day students at a residential school. And the kids and the staff hated us. The kids who had to stay there hated us because we got to go home. And the staff hated us because, I mean, why do you become a teacher when you hate kids? So we got it from the staff and we got it from the kids and so it was like a double whammy. It was really, really hard to go there. Then me and my brother and my two younger sisters went to go live with my mom and then it was the public school. [At] the public school, I remember once playing outside and this little White boy, this racist guy and he’s like, ‘Indian’ and I’m like, ‘Indian, so what? I’m an Indian.’ But it was the way he said it. It was the first time I encountered racism. I remember even when we were going there, the principal called all the Native students in and was lecturing us [about how] we shouldn’t call the White kids ‘White’ because look at us, we’re not even White we’re ‘pink’. Like, calling us on what we were saying [and not them]. (December 17, 2010) M. All the Natives that are in that office [her place of employment] are given the lowest jobs. And all the ones that are not Native, she [my boss] acts as if they’re just so special. Like, they’re so smart and they’re so educated and they’re so capable. She just acts as if she can barely tolerate us. I have a really good relationship with my coworkers to the extent where they give respect to me and I give respect to them. My boss seems to think that that’s not right because she says now they think that I’m the boss … When they showed me their respect she wouldn’t let us talk to each other. She isolated me. But they kept talking to me because they wanted to ask me questions like, ‘How do you recommend we do this, how do you recommend that?’ I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, no, I can’t answer you because the boss said no.’ What can I tell them? She kept trying to say that I was disrupting the workplace; I was interfering with their work. Meanwhile all I was doing was helping them and they’re the ones who  110  came to me. So I was like, ‘If you have any problems with that go tell them to stop talking to me.’ (March 3, 2011)  Residential Schooling Gerry We’ve been here since the beginning of time and there’s a lot of alcoholism, drug abuse on the reserve. A lot of residential school survivors, a lot of people affected by assimilation. Residential school settlements given every now and then, doesn’t do anything but contribute to their extinction by giving them drug money or alcohol money to drink themselves to death rather than putting it into trauma counselling programs and getting educated in self-help or counselling to come in one-on-one because there’s so much paranoia that most First Nations people believe that White people are going to exterminate them again. It shouldn’t even be an issue or a fact because if White people truly care about what they did with the Indians, they wouldn’t be handing them residential school settlements or money as a way of saying, ‘Oh, I’m sorry for what I did.’ Because most of that ends up in drugs or alcohol or suicide. To me, giving Indians settlements is just another way of killing them. Exterminating them like cockroaches. So to me, it isn’t sincere help at all. All that money should go to trauma counseling. (December 6, 2010) Patrick Five. Age five I was routed there. I believe that they did come and pick me up in some…some wagon or something. RCMP or someone or the Department of Human Affairs or something like that came and picked me up and brought me to the Residential school. It was a long way. But I thought I was just going for a ride. I didn’t know I was going to a Residential school. I remember that the first day that I got to WAVS; I felt at home right away because here they were talking in a circle and when it got to me I let out a little bit of tears, stating, ‘I’m a survivor of Residential school and I have a lot of anger issues and I don’t know how to have a relationship. I don’t understand how to have a perfect relationship.’ Whether it’s because I carry a lot of anger; I was lacking in the way to conduct myself through the trauma that I was going through. I was going through different kinds of trauma and I had to deal with Residential school. Abuse that happened to me, I was raped. I was molested. I had incest happen. I was beaten up as a kid. I got strapped as a kid … I was there for five years. It felt like a lifetime.  111  In order to better our lives we need to take care of that garbage, all the bad stuff that’s within us, you know. It’s…I believe it’s because of the residential school system—a lot of people who went through it are still affected and I think that will happen even 100 years from now because it’s a cycle. And as a whole Nation we should deal with it [healing all together], it’s not reality. We need to heal individually [also] because of the things we do in Warriors Against Violence, the things we talk about there. Because a lot of these things were, there’re learned behaviours, like anger and violence and family violence, like sexual abuse and all kinds of abuse, you know. In order for us to overcome these issues, we need to heal with them [fellow First Nations peoples] in groups like Warriors Against Violence. (December 9, 2010) Terry As Aboriginal people, we do know where it stems from, the anger but because it’s such a heavy topic and controversial, it’s hard to speak of because everything stems, in my opinion, from residential school. (March 16, 2011) David I did ten years there. I was 5-years old. I was taken to a foster home, then to a boy’s school and then to prisons. Usually, I just fought with the RCMP. I fought with the other men; hurt them pretty bad so I went to prison. It’s this residential school. When I was 5, they started using me as a pawn to fight the other boys, to discipline them, the next thing they’re training me to box in the residential school. (February 28, 2011) Patsy Basically, before I went to residential school I was raised in a loving environment with my grandparents. My grandmother and my grandfather showed me a lot of love and affection. They were raising me in the culture, they were probably speaking the language. So I went from that loving environment to a residential school that was trying to take our culture. That’s what their mandate was. Take the child away from the family so you take any cultural history. The residential school that we went to was really close by to our home, so we were bussed there and taken back home, we were day-students. And the kids and the staff hated us. The kids who had to stay there hated us because we got to go home. And the staff hated us because, I mean, why do you become a teacher when you hate kids? So we got it from the staff and we got it from the kids and so it was like a double whammy. It was really, really hard to go there.  112  It’s funny that when we were going to the residential school we were getting bussed past a public school and I’m just thinking it’s really stupid. Shouldn’t you be going to the closer school? So there was a public school and then the residential school. But I think the people who ran the public school told my grandmother that you have to send them there. And then the public school didn’t want us there. [But] when the residential school closed down, the public school was forced to take us in. My mother-in-law went to Kamloops residential school and there were horror stories she told us. All these horror stories were hard, listening to an Elder tell us what happened to her. I mean, anything horrific like that didn’t happen to me. I mean, there’s one positive thing we had out of the residential school. We had that lunch – one square meal a day. Because at home there was hardly anything there. So yeah, there was one positive that came out of it, was that we had a hot lunch. We [also] got to go home every day. I think just the way they are, they instilled in us that knowledge is power, just by the fact going to residential school. I’m always taking anything Western with a grain of salt because I’m First Nations first and foremost and my grandmother and grandfather taught me some of their language because that’s why I have an accent; when I went to residential school they took that out of me. They indoctrinated the English language. (December 7, 2010) M. Well, what happened was, I was raised by my grandparents. My grandfather never had any good experiences with White people because they were always ripping him off, paid him with cases of wine instead of money and he didn’t even drink, so he didn’t like that. He thought that was very disrespectful, so he didn’t want to send me to school because he had some bad experiences in his business dealings, so he tried to keep me out of school as long as possible. The way that he did that was he moved us away from the main part of the community, way out into the bush. We had a cabin out there and he hid us, me and my brother and they eventually found out and they said, ‘If you don’t send them to school, we will take them away.’ So he had no choice but to move back to the community and we started to go to the day school, which is really weird the way we were isolated. There was a lot of violence in my life. It started when I was in residential school, I went there when I was 9-years old. Before that I can say that I had a pretty idyllic life. I was spoiled, I was treasured, I was raised by my grandparents in the traditional way. By the time … I’d just passed into grade 3, my mother was approached by Indian affairs and um, they were basically having a hard time because my grandfather died when I was 7 and he was basically the backbone of the family, so once he died everything fell apart. At that time my mother didn’t have a husband, so she hated seeing us doing  113  without, she always wanted us to have nice clothes and good food and good education and everything. All these dreams, as any mother would, eh? So, Indian Affairs approached us, they must have found out that that’s what she wanted, so they said, ‘If you send them to the school, they will have beautiful clothes, they will have the best food and they will have the best education and you won’t have to worry about them.’ So she agreed. But she didn’t realize how awful it would be. They sent us to residential school. That’s when they sent us to residential school, that’s why they told her these things because they knew that’s what she wanted to hear. I got my first beating fifteen minutes after I walked into that school because my brother screamed and cried when they took him over to the boys’ side. He didn’t know why they were taking him away from me and I didn’t know why, so I tried to run and get him to comfort him and they right away said, ‘You are an evil person because you want to be with the boys.’ And they beat me up for that and I fought with them and everything because it was my job to look after my younger brother and they weren’t letting me do that. He was crying. So from that point on, they say you either fight or take flight. I’m a fighter, so from that point on my task was already picked out. If I’m going to be a fighter, I’m going to be beaten a lot. So I spent my whole time there fighting and getting beaten. That year [at residential school] was enough to isolate me from the community. Once you leave the community, you have to earn your place again—you’re an outsider. You have this weird haircut: straight across. You look different, you act different; I was violent then, they didn’t understand why I was violent. I was destructive. For some strange reason, I liked breaking glass. I broke my mother’s windows, I broke the jars, I broke the dishes. I just wanted to break everything. So that was one of the reasons why the community thought, ‘She’s weird, you know, she doesn’t belong here.’ I didn’t feel like I belonged there. I got mad real easy. My mother couldn’t deal with me. She finally got to the point when she was just terrified for me. And I fought. I fought, fought, fought. Finally, I ended up in foster care. That was terrible because I ran into a lot of racism. I was treated like a maid. Or, people would try to sexually abuse me. So I went back to residential school again when I was 13. I didn’t know where else to go. I couldn’t fit in with the community anymore. I was already destroyed. A lot of people say they’ve been there for 12 years, 15 years – it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to be there for that long. I was there for 15 minutes and I was destroyed forever. I will never, ever – that attitude will never be healed … I  114  feel that all a person has to do is spend 15 minutes in that place and you’re wrecked for life. That’s all I spent, I became wrecked 15 minutes after I got there. And you know what made it worse, many years later? My brother changed when he went there and I didn’t know why. But just recently, I found out that the first night that he was there he was sexually abused. He never complained about anything. We never had a clue. Well, we didn’t even know he needed it [counselling]. It was just that one thing that proved he needed it, when he committed suicide … I was lucky [to have been there for my mom] because she lost him. She was catatonic. That was the first child that she ever lost … All his life before that he was a happy-go-lucky guy … And I had a 17-year-old sister that shot herself to death and an 8-year-old sister that drowned. The one who committed suicide, she would be—let’s see—she was 15 years younger than me. Oh, she was given up for adoption, too … All my brothers and sisters that were given up for adoption, that was a traumatic experience for them. They felt abandoned, they felt given away, they couldn’t understand why them and not us. I keep telling them, ‘You’re lucky. You’re lucky.’ You got raised in a safe way. The rest of us had to go through hell. At least you were in your own family. I can understand how they feel because if I was put up for adoption, I think I’d feel the same way. But, at the same time, I know what we had to live through. She was staying with me but she went to visit my other sister and that’s where she did herself in. She didn’t want to be by herself when she did it, so she waited until my sister came home and then she did it. Right in front of her. Right in front of her. She said that her heart landed over there on the step. What happened was a cousin of ours, that’s her best friend, had killed himself a month earlier. He shot himself, too. She couldn’t stand him being gone because they were so close. So she was trying to deal with that. And then on top of that I learned later on that she may have been sexually abused at the place that she had been adopted [into] because she had all these cut marks on her arms. Yeah, she cut up her arms and I couldn’t figure out why she did that and I talked to a counsellor once and he said she may have been sexually abused as a child. Because she came back to our family when she was 14, and I didn’t know that [of her possible abuse], so that’s probably why she was really messed up. (March 3, 2011)  115  Incarceration White Owl Inside prison, it’s pretty violent. A lot of people say, the ones who’ve been to residential schools, a penitentiary is just a bigger version of a residential school because you have everything in there. You have stabbings, you have beatings, you have murders. (December 9, 2010) David [How long did you spend in prison?] All my life. Right from residential school into prison. I come out and I met my woman, I stayed out maybe six months … I had an addiction, like drinking, drugging and I had no feelings. I didn’t know what feelings were all about … Because we’re told what to do, what to eat, how to speak, how to act, you have to watch out what you say, what you do. I was there … my first time I was there for a short time but once I got out I was in trouble right away. This time, it’s the longest I’ve been out four years. I’m still doing time today [on parole]. I’ve got two years [to go] … I’m doing ten years for manslaughter and that is my own blood ... my blood brother. And I have to make changes. I’m getting too old for this. Running around, going to different prisons … My mom’s sister’s husband; he’s the one who started me fighting the other boys. I was taken to a foster home, then to a boy’s school and then to prisons. I was fifteen-years old when I went to correctional school. They sent me when I beat up staff there ... threw a chair and they couldn’t handle me, so they sent me straight to prison. I was there … my first time I was there for a short time but once I got out I was in trouble right away. It was like I’d been out maybe a month. One time I was out only a day. I started drinking and I beat up my partner in drunk jealously. I woke up in prison and then I got another year for hitting her, assault, it’s a thing, like there’s no ending … They taught us in there, that’s why lots of us never lived long and we still drink and drugs because we don’t like who we are. Because we’re forced to look down on ourselves, never to look at the beauty of the world. (December 7, 2010) Leslie I did not have very much control over my life … my life was very much controlled by the system. I was a product of the system, I did end up in foster care, I did use detention centers, I ended up in a variety of situations where my freedom was … that’s what I would see as having no control. When I had made the decision that I was going to do some healing on this journey and turn my life around because I knew even then I had a lot to contribute to our society, to our communities. … In prison, 116  I’ve seen a lot of people that would never make it out of prison. There were a lot of people that died there. There were a lot of people that ended up getting life in prison. There were a lot of people that ended up, sort of disappearing into the bowels of the system. It happens. It happens in Canada. It happens all around the world. I had an enormous fear of dying in prison and I knew I had to turn my life around. But I also knew I had the intellect in order to do that. I firmly believe that education is one of the key cornerstones to making wiser decisions in your life. So while I was serving time in prison, I had gone to school. I had always tried to better myself. I came out of prison in 1991. I had two years of university, a ticket as a carpenter, millwright, cabinet-maker and … I’m also a camera technician and a paste-up layout artist. … So when I did get out of prison I first of all went into the construction industry to make a living. I was no different than anybody else. Except for the fact, perhaps that I had continually tried to gear [myself] towards education. I read lots, I probably read, uh, I don’t know, in the hundreds of books while I was in prison. … I had the opportunity because there was a tremendous amount of isolation time that I had served. … I did have some very positive role models … and some of them, some of those men were in prison. At the age of 16 … when I first went to jail, one of the very first things they did, the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia came up to me and recruited me to be the secretary and eventually I became the President of the Native Brotherhood in a number of different institutions where there were Brotherhood organizations. That was in 1969. There were not a lot of well-educated First Nations people in prison at the time and I had a grade 10, which means that I was well educated. … And it wasn’t the grade 10 that you would get out of going to a residential school because a lot of guys had that. But, basically, a residential school didn’t teach them any sort of academics. So I went to public school, so I was very well versed in English, Math and Reading. … So I was constantly sought after as a political activist in the prison. And we literally, I was taught a lot of different skills where we would take advantage of the system because we were caught up in the system. (December 1, 2010) In the above passages about systemic racism, residential schooling and Correctional Services Canada (CSC), I seek to unite not only with Gerry, Patrick, Terry, David, Patsy, M. and Leslie but also with my readers; I too, become the literate listener, a key component on which effective understanding rests. It is said that while someone is speaking, if you are already silently formulating  117  your response, whether it be a comment, suggestion or question—the bottom line is—you are not listening, as the above stories of fiery deservedly command. Yet, I would feel remiss in not highlighting some of the basic physiological, physical and social factors over which imprisoned men are advantaged. Incarcerated-at-home partners, mostly women, are more susceptible to emotional anguish and implicit oppression in the form of social isolation (Lester-Smith and Wanyenya, 2012, m.s.), as Donna explains: I continued to go to that program always when [my partner] went using [drugs]. I continued to go on my own. However, when he got those charges… to be honest with you… I didn’t go. Because I felt really [emotionally] bruised, embarrassed and ashamed and I felt mortified and I thought people would never understand how I could continue to be with him in view of what had happened. I’m sure that would not have been the case. I’m sure there would not have been judgment but I put that on myself that there would be. So it wasn’t until [my partner] got out of jail that we returned to Warriors [WAVS], so I actually missed about a year and a half to two years of Warriors. In retrospect I probably should have continued going but I just…[voice trails off]. (December 1, 2010) In all likelihood, were she a First Nations mother with children, Donna would have suffered even beyond debilitating shame. Incarcerated family men have no fiscal responsibilities like food, shelter and utility bills and at times are conveniently afforded camaraderie and safety. In fact, supportive friendships apparently exist, as one group member suggests. When he reoffended and was sent back to prison, he later explained that as he walked in, a number of inmates said, ‘Hey Buddy, welcome back, welcome home, good to see you!’ (Group Meeting Field Note, March 15, 2010). Additionally, many Aboriginal men seek unified support in the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia (NBBC), established in 1931, which continues to advance the social, spiritual, economic and physical conditions of its members, including higher standards of education, health and living conditions and to cooperate with recognized organizations and Government departments which concern themselves with the advancement of Indian welfare. (NBBC, 2011)  118  White Owl describes NBBC in this way: The Brotherhood is what it is, just a brotherhood of Natives meeting together and doing stuff. Some of them try to better themselves, some are still stuck in that lifestyle, you know. For some its just protection, you know, especially the prairies. (December 9, 2010) Beyond communal support, more fiscal concerns are documented. For instance, the cost of incarcerating a single Federal male prisoner in 2004/5 was $87,665 per prisoner/per year, which significantly exceeded the 2005 median income of peoples with Aboriginal ancestry at the highest educational levels (certificate, diploma or degree), which was $26, 293 (Statistics Canada (b)). This suggests that for Aboriginal families, a single incarcerated male would account for almost four median Aboriginal incomes.  Emotion No matter what has happened to you in life, the stuff that changed you as a child, they weren’t yours. The shame, the guilt, the hatred—these things were put on me; I took on someone’s garbage. And for myself, too, it almost destroyed me. ~ White Owl (Present Member, December 9, 2010) In his Emotional Active Wellness Journal (2009), Lee Brown explains the power of affective communication: “As you achieve greater emotional competency and take responsibility for your emotions, your relationships with others will move to a higher level of maturity” (p. 23). Emotions can not only be about love, respect, joy, care and laughter, they can also be about hurt, anger, fear, shame, denial and worthlessness. WAVS describes and teaches members “Emotional cues [to become aware of in order to change one’s own violent behaviours] are the feelings that typically take place prior to an abusive or violent incident ... as the body begins to prepare for violence” (WAVS Manual, 2003, Italics in original, p. 21). By recognizing individual red flag words involved in heated verbal exchanges; physical cues like racing heart rate, pounding chest, clenching fists, rapid breathing, callous staring, tensing muscles or clenching jaws; and emotional cues of feeling belittled, ashamed, guilty, challenged, frightened or silenced, WAVS members learn to take a step back from their escalating anger and employ a ‘timeout’ before they injure themselves and/or anyone else. Although these lists can be endless as a pacific coast beach, with encouragement, members begin to recognize and share aloud (at home or in Warriors group sessions) precursors to violent outbursts. Patsy shares, 119  My first instinct was to slug her out but something was shouting in my head, ‘No, you’ve got to remove yourself from the situation, even though she’s in your space.’ I said, ‘Ok I’m going to go and see the supervisor.’ And I just backed away and I just left. Otherwise I would have been charged with assault. (December 17, 2010) To David I ask, Do we ever really heal? I just live for the day. Like today, talking to you. Right now I’m happy. And I’d like to stay like that the rest of the day. But we all have hard days. That’ll eventually come but I can handle it ... like the time-out and what I learned in WAVS. And it’s a good thing to understand life like that he laughs. (February 28, 2011) This foundational educational component is what WAVS refers to as the “Control Plan,” whereby members slowly learn to identify their individual “trigger points that precede an abusive incident and endeavour to remove themselves from the situation” (WAVS Manual, 2003, p. 20). Numerous participants, while learning the Control Plan, historically situate themselves as having experienced spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual trauma in their earlier years. Gerry succinctly defines such historically critical considerations: It depends on what each individual child’s experience is. It could be just sexual abuse. It could be physical abuse—you know—beatings, tortures. It could be both. It could be witnessing violence, too, which could have a big effect on a lot of children. There are just so many different varieties of abuse. (December 6, 2010) Freda educates me about more of the relational, emotional complexities of violence by storytelling about how long she hesitated to seek healing assistance from WAVS because a member in attendance had abused her in the past. So therefore, I had a hard time being there and I hadn’t dealt with [that situation], even though it was years and years and years ago. That’s what kept me out of that circle and so finally I decided to face this music and deal with that problem and that’s what I did. (December 6, 2010)  120  Since, she has been able to cope better in the presence of the individual who hurt her and also repair close family ties with another circle member. Confidentiality builds trust and understanding. It is a core step where Warriors are not judgmental of who joins the group. Members begin to feel they are not alone in the weekly sharing groups. Also, this trust needs to be set because communities are smaller than some think and names and situations can be easily figured out. But confidentiality also has its boundaries... for anyone disclosing about hurting themselves or another person, facilitators carry a legal responsibility to pass this information to police. These limitations of confidentiality are shared with new members. Patrick knows about obstacles well; one such barrier for him has been prison. His lawyer counted up the number of years he had spent in Correctional Services Canada (CSC): a total of 20 years, nearly half his life for becoming addicted to drugs and theft to pay for them as a way to numb his unbearable experiences in residential school. In Canada, a life-term sentence to jail is 25 years (CSC, 2012). He has literally been given a non-sequential lifetime sentence. I ask him, Does that hit you, you know, the idea, 47 minus 20 years? It’s just so profound, I comment. If I let it hit me big time I become emotional with it and then it peaks. It becomes, my weaknesses start to act out. I tend to get grumpy a lot. I tend to get, my thinking starts to get distorted. I start to break down, he explains. (February 16, 2011) Herein lies this participant’s burgeoning strength. Patrick is well aware of his propensity to be triggered by thought, his vacillating inability to control his sentiments. I’ll be this rebellious person. I don’t care if they accept me or whatever. But I mean, I do care. I have feelings. I have emotions. Just like the person I hurt. I’m thinking about those people now. I’m thinking about them and I think about their feelings and become more empathetic with them. My partner is showing me about empathy; being empathetic. And more about love. She’s like my little Buddha. (February 16, 2011) Trapped from within fire and emotional upheaval, slowly testing safer waters, Patrick also shares, I specifically like Warriors because I have a rapport with them. I also have to look at the fact that there are not too many other resources that I can go to that have family now because of what my charges has led me to [working towards getting into the details of his crimes, anger  121  and resentment]. Learning how to go into details. Details that take me deeper emotionally. (February 16, 2011) Terry too, talks of anger during his earlier years. He discusses the demands he felt about being emotionally deserving of during his initial efforts to heal. When I first went into the group I was in denial with myself and trying to figure out why I was the way I was and why I was carrying so much anger towards the world and others that may have crossed my path. Back in the day I would have laid blame at others, for their actions would make me act the way I am, I always blamed others but you know, today I’m obviously in a whole different perspective—360 turn around with myself. I ask, Can you tell me about your anger? Does that stem from personal experience or from intuitive knowing [like kinesthetic, heart or blood memory]? My anger stems from personal experience from my upbringings. My parents were into their addiction of alcoholism and they split up in 1992. Since then I’ve been living from house to house with my mom and then eventually put into foster care with my aunt until my dad cleaned up and took us back in 1984. But then the abuse started again with that and I was put back into the environment of my parent’s addictions. (March 16, 2011) Because participants Terry, Patrick and David each describe their transformation processes of anger, of interrupted culture and family, of turning to substance misuse and of sometimes feeling ‘human’ again, I next question White Owl. Did you ever feel that you had to come out of jail and learn how to be a human being? I just got tired of going to jail and I just felt there was something better out here. (December 9, 2010) The notion of that ‘something better’ resonates with me because of Coyote and Squirrel, who, not unlike the participants, let me be a brief visitor into their world. Stories sometime evoke in me questions that I am not able to answer but nevertheless, I voice them for my readers to consider. Although I am interested in understanding what it is about jail that fatigued White Owl, I can only  122  wonder. Not all questions such as ‘How did he use the teachings provided in jail to prepare himself for his eventual release?’ need be answered at this time. In closing White Owl’s and my conversation, I ask, Where do you see yourself in five years from now? His epigram: Hopefully still above ground. (December 9, 2010)  Youth We were really sheltered; it was really strict until I was 17. We couldn’t even talk to boys. Mind you, I couldn’t even – I wasn’t able to – because of what I was doing – what was done to me … And that stuff was our world … But, yeah, I toughed it out until I was 17 and I couldn’t hack it anymore and I went with my grandpa. ~ Patsy (Former Member, December 17, 2010) In this section, Ryan, WAVS youth group co-leader and I re/present his perspectives on behalf of the youth whom he mentors. My approach is slightly unconventional; nevertheless, he takes to my spontaneity. I begin, In reading your first transcript, Ryan, your focus is on the youth rather than yourself and that’s perfect because it really hits me, to focus on the youth again. A word list came to mind for me—Does that work? Sounds good, yeah. So is it the first thing that comes to my mind? Yes and any other single words that you can draw from it. Okay, a quick summary, here: loyalty, trust, belonging, safety, confidentiality/disclosure and culture … Does the way I am asking these word questions work for you? Yes, absolutely, it’s allowing me to focus and think of examples. (March 18, 2011) Ryan communicates the immediacy of youth experiences. In the moment, some youth are living in a specific time and space, whether it’s a world of violence, confusion, healing or triumph. Conversely, adult members are dealing with perhaps twenty to forty years of past experiences and memories that youth are not because of their chronological age. I ask Ryan to expand on this concept.  123  Some youth, we’ve had instances, trying to work with a harsh event that happened when they were a little younger … she’d be 16 now but she’s talking about something that happened when she was younger, between [age] nine and twelve or so. That’s only four years [ago] as opposed to an older crowd, perhaps my age, about 30, so that’s quite a bit of age difference. (March 18, 2011) For youth, harsh events can be difficult but not insurmountable as one or more of the many challenges we face in life. The realization that while ‘harsh’ does typically have a negative connotation, at it’s most basic; it is still varying degrees of severity. Thus, even the positivity that healing and being healthy can be harsh. In fact, becoming unhealthy is much easier than becoming healthy. One might even argue, it’s a more pleasurable process. Nevertheless, they can feel extremely daunting and hold a strong place in psychologically growing adolescents (Brokenleg and Van Bockern, 2003). Children and young adults aged 24 or younger represent almost half (48%) of Aboriginal peoples across Canada. Aboriginal children and youth coming into contact with the state through the child welfare or judicial systems in order to ensure their safety, well-being or to prevent recidivism is not working (The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), 2010). Police-reported data for 2009 indicate that children and youth under the age of 18 were most likely to be sexually victimized or physically assaulted by someone they knew (85% of incidents). Nearly 55,000 children and youth were the victims of a sexual offence or physical assault in 2009, about three in 10 of which were perpetrated by a family member. Six in ten children and youth victims of family violence were assaulted by their parents. The youngest child victims (under the age of three years) were most vulnerable to violence by a parent. In 2009, the rate of family-related sexual offences was more than four times higher for girls than for boys. The rate of physical assault was similar for girls and boys. (p. 5) The YCJA report seems to recognize that legal provisions need to be made that takes into consideration and put into broader systemic context, the cultural and linguistic diversity and socioeconomic differences that exist for Aboriginal peoples. Section 38 (2)(d) reinforces these notions by stating, “Particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal young persons, all available sanctions other than custody should be considered” (p. 15). However, outcomes for children remain devastating: 73% of youth involved with the young offenders system in B.C. are also involved with the child protection system and only 21% of former youth in care graduate from high school compared with 78% of the general population. In B.C., young women who are in the permanent care of the province are four times more likely to become pregnant than other young women who have never been in care. When these children become parents they disproportionately lose their own  124  children to the foster care system, thus perpetuating the cycle of broken families of imprisoned men, isolated and shamed women and children and youth apprehended by the Ministry of Children and Family Development intended for foster home placements. Solutions to systemic injustices need to be proposed in consideration of Aboriginal peoples’ burgeoning population. As we continue with our youth-centered, characterized word list, Ryan defines how loyalty plays a part among his Warriors’ group members. A new member tells him, I go to a lot of youth group meetings and stuff and I see a lot of groups and everything but this is the only one where we actually stay together after the proper meeting. Like, we all leave together, after the group we take each other to the sky train stop, it’s the only one that we’ve done that [closing group nights]. It’s pretty cool, it’s pretty cool … even if someone says, ‘I need to go to the washroom, so wait for me.’ So we all do that wait for one another. We haven’t touched on belonging yet I prompt him. In the adult group, the circle, where people feel safe and yeah, they feel that sense of belonging. Actually it does happen with the youth too. I know they are calling one another, keeping in touch and now hanging around together sometimes on the weekends. [Sometimes] I say, ‘I’m sorry I can’t meet up with you like we usually do’ but they say, ‘Oh, that’ okay, I’m meeting up with so and so before we head to the meeting.’ So we have meetings together and then our walks afterwards to get home. (March 18, 2011) According to the mentor, between the teenagers and young adults, trusting relationships with each other are being established; members are talking more and disclosing to one another more and just like in any normal relationship, disagreements happen. He adds, Now what they work towards is, hopefully they can put the WAVS tools in place to learn and practice them (March 18, 2011). I wonder about the youth in terms of culture and if it plays into the youths’ healing processes at WAVS, so I comment to him, I’m thinking back to this idea of linking. What about culture? I mean, if we don’t know it, were never taught it, [and for reasons of health and balanced wellness], may we need to be learning it, slash, practicing it – then what is the significance or the meaning of culture in the youths’ lives?  125  He replies, They’re expressing high interest for it. They’re touching base a little bit with it, with smudging and prayer, also with drum making and doing a little bit of art work. (March 18, 2011) Hearing that some members are reaching into the community on their own and joining local drumming and singing groups, I cannot help but encourage, Great news, initiating culture on their own. Wow, I never really thought of that! Ryan shares. They are in the drum group; some are inviting others, inviting drummers to our group to teach drumming. Some are learning about powwows … so it’s cool when they tell me about these things. (March 18, 2011) In closing, I inquire about the impact or significance that Ryan witnesses in the Warriors’ youth. He optimistically assured me they are happy and intrigued by what they are learning from WAVS that helps their lives. Like the smudging, for example, they’re asking, like what is this for, I like the smell of it, the cleansing aspect of it, he explains (March 18, 2011). For the youth, it seems like their curiosity is a motivator to engage in cultural practices. How is culture so tied to healing? Consider an Aboriginal perspective of longevity: One cannot be said to have wisdom until others acknowledge an individual’s respect and responsible use and teaching of knowledge to others. Usually, wisdom is attributed only to Elders but this is not because they have lived a long time. What one does with knowledge and the insight gained by knowledge are the criteria for being called an ‘Elder’. (Archibald, 2008, p. 17) Learning just how youth are showing interest in re/claiming and re/vitalizing culture indicates, to me, Archibald’s resolution about Elders and wisdom weaving together cross-generational knowledge: it is our youth who will someday be our wise knowledge-keepers.  126  4.2.4  West: We learn from what people have to say about us. ~ Freda Physical  My Mom and Dad left the reserve because there was too much violence and corruption, abuse, murders, suicide rates highest in Canada. I’m just guessing we lost thousands of people. From what I know originally, our tribe was nomadic. ~ Gerry (Present Member, December 6, 2010) Our physical aspects of being-ness allow us to be present to our sacred vitality and ourselves, encourage Young and Nadeau (2005). Healthy physical needs include access to medical support and services, a clean safe place to live, good nutrition and exercise, help with addictions, medicines and alternative and traditional medicines such as soap berries, sweetgrass, sage, juniper and cedar (LesterSmith (Hill) and Fridkin, (m.s.) 2008). Participants teach me just how paramount a stable home is to good health, let alone healing from unhealthy familial events. Keeping in mind the cultural poverty about which Dion Stout speaks, in more conventional terms Aboriginal peoples are very vulnerable to poverty in many larger Canadian cities. According to the Urban Poverty in Canada report published by the Canada Council on Social Development (CCSD) (2000, 2007), “The poverty rate for Aboriginal people in cities was 42.8% – more than double the rate for non-Aboriginal people (19%)” (p. 18). Of the 17 cities listed in the study, Vancouver reported the highest Aboriginal poverty rate at 59.5% (2000, 2007). Several factors contribute to high poverty rates such as barriers to education and employment opportunities, which in turn, also affect housing conditions for many people (2000, 2007). Although this 2000 source date is 12-years old and one would hope to find more recent statistics, the latter 2007 version contains the exact same graphs and numbers previously reported. It is disconcerting to think that while Statistics Canada has the funds for the 2007 publication, it seemingly does not for new research that would further validate the alarming rates of poverty among First Nations peoples. Patrick commands my full attention when he outlines some of his ‘shelter’ locales. I clarify, So, some nights you’re under the Granville Street Bridge and some nights in a hotel? He adds, I also had to survive under bridges because I didn’t have a place to stay. Whether it was wintertime or raining, I had to, uh, learn how to survive. I’d do crime in order to do some stuff that I needed. Most of the times I was on the streets because I spent my money on drugs and I didn’t have rent money. (December 8, 2010) 127  In Vancouver hotel rooms in poorer neighbourhoods like the Downtown Eastside are commonly known as single-room occupancies that as Patrick describes, are far less than the humanness he continuously seeks. A lot [of rooms] had bed bugs. Some of them had cockroaches or mice, so I didn’t like living in them, anyway. The street was better off for me. The place was kind of violent and they were more or less interested in the money rather than the patrons (February 14, 2011). The lowest rung of poverty—or the ‘survival of the fittest’ model of life is all too real for some participants. One can only imagine Patrick’s contentious survival skills in his trapped years of addiction, homelessness and recovery. Systemic housing-oppression can also be seen in the process of obtaining shelter for Aboriginal people living on the streets. Patrick, Gerry and Roberta each speak of shelter difficulties as a necessary precursor to healing. In serendipitous irony about homelessness in Vancouver I experience the following: On the way to meet with M., I park my car and as I walk along Broadway I accidentally kick and almost trip on a very large piece of flattened cardboard laying was on the sidewalk. I didn’t fall, thank goodness but it strikes me that it isn’t any piece of cardboard. It is a piece of very large, abandoned, flattened cardboard that a homeless person might sleep on. ‘I consider, ‘This cardboard could have been someone’s bed this morning before I’ve just walked across it.’ (Personal Field Note, March 3, 2011) Michael emphasizes the importance of a home—which seems to symbolize not only a shelter but also stability of health and emotional well-being. I ask him, Would social support work for everyone? Oh, I think a lot of the ones who wouldn’t take [a housing opportunity] would be more, like those having health issues that can’t be around other people or in close spaces, right? But I think that the youth that I work with … I see [those] getting healthy and more educated are the ones that would find stable housing. (December 9, 2010) Who then, is able to find and be accepted into subsidized housing—only the mentally stable? For low income and marginalized peoples this present crisis stems back to the early 80s. Government policy navigated the closure of B.C.’s Riverview Hospital on the grounds that it was no longer legal to have  128  people committed to care against their will, a motion that would clearly also assist government funds allocated for the institutional care of admitted patients. While this constitutional discernment of valid consent may be true, the decision became the founding trigger to Vancouver’s urban, mentally-ill and homeless population. The Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) Homeless count (Goldberg, Graves, Eberle, et. al., 2005) uses two categories of homelessness. “Street homeless” are those who live outdoors on streets, in parkades, parks and beaches. “Sheltered homeless” are those who have temporary shelter in emergency or transition shelters or in a friend’s home with a lack of security and financial means to pay rent. Street homeless among those surveyed revealed that 70% were Aboriginal (p. 27), suggesting Aboriginal homeless people avoid shelters; feel they are inadequately served by shelters; or are under-reported by shelter staff. Reasons given for homelessness were multifaceted, with most declaring deficiency of earnings (44%); living with health conditions such as asthma or diabetes or addictions (25%); and the high costs of housing (22%) (p. 15). Street homelessness points to lack of money as the major cause of their homelessness, while the sheltered homeless indicate health and addictions more often were their problems. Women made up 26% of the total counted homeless, while Aboriginal women accounted for 36% of the homeless population. “There were proportionately more women among the total Aboriginal homeless population (35%) than among the total non-Aboriginal homeless (27%)” (p. 27). For Aboriginal women who are already vulnerable other systemic forces of oppression coupled with realities such as poverty might increase the risk of homelessness, especially for those with lone responsibility for children. Among Aboriginal women this is more likely the case, especially in metropolitan regions such as the GVRD, where 46% of Aboriginal children live with a lone parent (Canadian Council on Social Development, 2003). Unfortunately, institutions such as homeless shelters that are charged with providing supports and services to lift Aboriginal peoples out of the destitute conditions of homelessness are apparently underutilized, inadequate or avoided altogether. Aboriginal women and children are negatively impacted and further marginalized. For instance, To apply for housing with Lu’ma Native Housing Society, at least fifty percent (50%) of the applicant’s family must be of Aboriginal ancestry. This includes First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit and Metis persons who may be status or non-status. Eligibility is evaluated on an individual basis through assessment of income, family size, health, current housing conditions, being a student, etc. (Lu’ma Native Housing Society, 2012)  129  Roberta, my guiding Elder throughout this study, tells a housing story of helpless disdain: in trying to find housing for her sister, she is told each facility has its own intake requests and dictates that she and her sister must contact each housing organization individually to learn of their specific criteria before applying. Finding ‘good days’ when an addicted person is on her best behaviour, not to mention family members needing time off work to attend multiple intake appointments is a timeconsuming, if not impossible expectation. Those able to begin a path towards healthier futures that include finding housing and/or regaining custody of their children in ministerial care often face circular perpetuating colonial processes of fragmenting families and problematizing basic necessities of life. WAVS provides a ‘sheltered’ space of belonging and recovery that some members, in the worst of their struggles, may not have previously had. I can immediately bring to my mind’s eye the co-ed, Monday evening group room: The room is upstairs to the right, at the end of the hall. It is large, long like a double room and bright, painted white. Two couches are at one end of the room; two double closet doors are at the other end. Windows are across the length of the room opposite the door we enter. A counter/sink is to the right of the door and a table with food (for dinners) is against the closet doors, opposite the couches. Chairs are set up in an oval fashion around the room connecting to the two couches. I enter the room and sit in front of the window, with my back to them. (Group Meeting Field Note, April 15, 2009) The ‘upstairs living-room’ is where the women’s Thursday evening group members meet in comfort on three couches, low floor-lamp lighting and a fireplace hearth. The men’s Thursday evening meetings take place in the ‘downstairs living-room’. Ambiances such as these, although they cannot make up for members’ past home settings, provide safe walls within which voiced disclosure and experiential wisdom is spoken. At Warriors, physical space is transformed into a safe and caring conceived place of commonality and trust.  130  Water The creation of the Change of Seasons society, which became a model for similar programs across Canada from Cape Breton Island to Vancouver Island. The trainees developed a truly unique way of working with men and boys through a combination of group work, individual work, crisis intervention, social development and community organization, political lobbying, public speaking, sweats, cold water bathing, smudging, canoeing, dancing, singing and much more. ~ Bruce Wood (Change of Seasons Program Co-founder, March 23, 2011) In this themed section, water appears to make a metaphorical appearance in participant stories: from the local ‘watering hole’ where neighbourhood people meet and to ‘ripples in the pond’ of inferences. No matter the vision the universal theme remains a strong interconnectedness among Aboriginal peoples and the WAVS mandate. When I ask how she and Dan met, Gail makes reference to fluidity in this way. I knew Dan when I was a child. His mum and my uncle used to go together. My mother and his mother – they all drank together and stuff. Because in the city here, there weren’t many Native people. And if they were Native people who drank, they all knew each other. That was the way it was. (December 9, 2010) The ‘local watering hole’ offers a sense of cohesiveness and belonging for the new Native people coming to town. Sadly that same entity of unity for some becomes addictive. Gail continues, There were always places like that. We’d see each other [she and Dan] off and on—run into each other over the years. Our lives were both on a destructive path. When reflecting upon his life and seeing his actions ripple like water that can potentially impact every/one/thing around him Patrick recognizes, I had that kind of ability to ripple communities and society at large. I had that ability to ripple it and the consequence for me is that I’m suffering it now (December 8, 2010). Lastly, Bruce Wood summarizes his oceanic years of working as a community leader for families needing anti-violence training. There has been a real sea of change in perspective and approach among many of those who have been working with men and family violence. The balance between confrontation and healing is better understood and offered. The caring/challenging approach has been validated for many of us through the continuing success rates in programs across Canada  131  and it is clear that we are doing a better job because more men are staying with our groups and not ‘dropping out’. (March 23, 2011) The communal surge of water from earth or urban gatherings, contributes to curing individual selves, families, communities and eventually, nations.  Adults Someone has to be the responsible adult, so I guess it has to be me because–yeah. That’s one thing my mom and my step-dad taught—if you have kids, you have to take care of them. ~ Patsy (Former Member, December 17, 2010) For those of our grandchildren who cannot yet speak, Freda opens her heart to speak of intimate details between her mother, herself and her daughter. That was part of [my daughter’s] problem. Her anger … when my mom died, she [my daughter] told me she had hated me since my mom died. And that was because she said that before my mom was dying, my mom was asking for her (December 6, 2010). The impact of loved ones dying seems to leave a piece of us dead along with them. Emotions and actions can also become extreme. I’m wondering, Freda, when you’re at Warriors, what do you take home with you to your daughter? She explains, I try to be different; I try to breath or not answer her sometimes, so I don’t get into an argument with her. I just keep to myself – in fact I feel like I’m the child and she’s the mother at one point because she’d be yelling at me and I’d go to my bedroom – it felt like ‘[being sent to] my room’ (laughs) – and I’d stay in there and it was really – our home didn’t feel like a home. It was broken apart and the only things I was close to were my kitty-cats. (December 6, 2010) Although my question to Freda infers she is a family leader who takes home WAVS learnings to her daughter—to emulate a responsible parent to which Patsy earlier refers— Freda emphasizes that some role reversals take place. With regards to violence towards family members age 65 or older, common assault, the category of least serious physical harm to victims, was the most common violent offence committed by family members against seniors in 2009. This offence accounted for more than half (53%) of all family violence. Another 21% of family-related violence involved uttering threats … 132  These proportions were similar for both male and female senior victims. (Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2009, p. 28) Returning to Freda’s haven with her cats, I instantly relate to such bonds with family pets as one of my favorite memories surfaces. In the early 1990s my calico cat had a litter of kittens. On the morning Tessie deemed necessary she gingerly jumped onto my bed where I was still sleeping and nestled into the crook of my bent knees. I instantly awoke and over the course of an hour or so as I softly encouraged her with words and gentle strokes, Momma cat gave birth to five kittens. Like Freda, Julie Cruikshank (1998) knows of Indigenous connections between the natural world, animals and human society: In a framework where animals and humans are understood to share common states of being that include family relationships, intelligence and common responsibility for maintenance of a shared world, the rights and obligations obtaining to relationships among people also extend to the natural world. Interaction with the physical world, then, is a social relationship and consequently it is rarely straightforward. (p. 60). Within webs of social interaction various forms of hurt from and to one another can translate into broken homes. The notion of a ‘broken home’ is striking because it almost always refers, not to architectural structures, but to the people within and the nature of their relations with each other. About her childhood home, Freda teaches me the strength of witnessing our childhoods, no matter the positive or negative moment. I don’t want to say all bad things about [our dad] because he did look after us ten children. Whenever he went somewhere, he took us with him. He never left us behind. He provided for us all the time. We were very poor. We weren’t on welfare, he wasn’t on unemployment, we had to go pick up cans and bottles – Oh and pick up scrap metal to pay ten cents to go see a movie. (December 6, 2010) As adults the ability to support a family is often taken for granted. It is beyond simply providing money and can meld into a form of love in never ‘leaving his children behind.’ The entire Indigenous family, a vacillating assembly of children, youth, adults, Elders and ancestors is key to wellness. Teachings of mutual support, cooperation and work ethics are a fundamental component of a family as Freda confirms about her parents, They taught us to do hard work. To do things like that to survive  133  and we did it as a family, so it was good. They taught us work ethics and they wanted us to get educated and so on and so forth (December 6, 2010).  4.2.5  North: Every choice brings meaning to where I am now. ~ Terry Air/Universal  Well, I feel good, taking ownership of all my negative [original, used as a noun]. And I want to carry on and enjoy life. I’m 55-years old ... we’re not here for a long time, so I may as well enjoy life and feel happy now that I’ve found myself. And I don’t have to go to prison and isolate myself and hide from people. ~ David (Former Member, December 7, 2010) In his above observation David emphasizes universal breath and life. He seems ready to really begin living and invites me to understand his point of view that coveted air outdoors of institutional constraints flows and reminds us we are alive. Individual experiences can also be common to many. Often the physical time spent in institutions, whether they are residential schools, foster homes or correctional facilities can become less significant. Psychological time takes over so that ‘finding’ ourselves may become a life-long quest. Isolated beaches on Sechelt Nation land about which I earlier speak, become communally treasured and taking responsibility can calm oceans of human turmoil. Terry describes some of his familial chaos in terms of reaching a time in his life when he can now understand past and present horizons: Today I understand now where the past experiences come from and where it all stems from – with my teachings. I’m able to make the connectiveness now that my parents did the best they could with what they had knowing that … their parents, they weren’t there to teach them, so they weren’t there to teach me … And, to make that connectiveness has really opened my mind more to dig deep and to come to the realization that I can’t blame my parents anymore. It’s not their fault. It’s not my grandparents’ fault. (March 16, 2011) I feel gifted that Terry offers me his double meaning of ‘teachings’—those he learned from his Elders and those he now shares with me. Universal journeys such as the participants face about violence can be tragic ones that understandably elicit thoughts of retribution. Meanwhile, as they also hold what  134  was once taken from them through colonization such as culture, health and peace of mind, there becomes no one to blame. Aikenhead and Ogawa (2007) explain, Through long observation [Indigenous Peoples] have become specialists in understanding the interconnectedness and holism of our place in the universe. Moreover, Indigenous observations are monist and hence they relate to a metaphysical inner space in systematic ways known to certain Elders within each community. Indigenous empiricism enjoys spiritual power. (p. 562) Leslie warns me of non-Aboriginal, non-‘spiritual powers’ that lack wholistic reverence—for respecting not only our bodies—but also our world. In our conversation he references the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill), in the Gulf of Mexico that exploded and then flowed constant for three months in 2010. By moving from his personal storywork to upholding his more universal beliefs, he teaches me collective and connective awareness: I think that every member of BP Oil or whatever—they should be taking ‘lifeskills [training]’. They should be taking Medicine Wheel courses. They should be taking journeys into spirituality because they’re missing something in their lives if they feel like they can get away with this sort of abuse of Mother Nature and think that there are no repercussions of that. We will feel the effects we’re yet to suffer from. (December 1, 2010) The use of tools (oils) and nature (air) for environmental damage and recovery is inclusive of land, life, sky, sea, self and the very fire of our core, our sacred selves. The facilitator instills in me that restorative wellness of humanity must be transparent, not secretive.  Intellectual My mom is an intelligent woman, I mean that’s where I got all my smarts, that’s where all us kids got our smarts from because she’s so intelligent. Why she’s with this Italian man? And they’re still together. … I said, ‘How did you deal with this guy?’ I had to leave because he’s such an awful person. And she said, ‘Oh, I pray’ because my family is religious – my whole family is religious. … Catholicism, yeah. And so I go, ‘You must be praying 24/7.’ And she said, ‘Yeah, basically.’ So she’s praying all the time. She’s really–my mom’s a decent person. She’s honest, she’s hard working. ~ Patsy (Former Member, December 17, 2010)  135  For the benefit of practicing good health our intellectual minds need to understand matters such as Indigenous and Western views about medicines; adapting and accepting life changes; learning and sharing about prevention; living with a positive attitude; keeping up to date on new information; and remaining awareness of services and support available. In her book, The Horses We Love, the Lessons We Learn (2007), Bastian bridges animals’ and peoples’ innate, yet interconnected knowledges. There is really not great mystery in trying to better understand the people we meet and how to deal with the challenges we face in our lives. It is available to everyone who chooses to use it. It’s a simple thing called common sense. If you trust your instincts and use your common sense in facing any challenge, you will have the key that unlocks the door to a good relationship with almost every person you meet and every challenge you face. (Bastian, 2007, p. 5) There are multiple ways in which we, as diverse, alive peoples can learn from one another. During one group meeting, for instance, Joe gives an update about his best friend, Dan’s health by telling those of us in the circle to ‘be ready’. At first I think he means to be ready for Dan’s death; however, I quickly realize that he is inferring each of us to be ready for our own deaths and to live a good life. Use good medicine. We need our family or we will be returned to [having to] use the survival skills we know, out on the streets. (Group Meeting Field Note, April 26, 2010) Elders teach intellectual wisdom, that our heart is meant to be full and if there is something good that needs to come in and we need to release a part of it to make room. David sees the potential for great change through a program like WAVS. He shows awareness of his steadfast commitment to healing and that it involves a parallel commitment to attend WAVS. Sharing what he learns at group meetings, he says, There are ways human beings can be happy doing what they’re doing. They’re happy, they’re not pretending to be happy. They’re not waiting for a hand out, they’re doing what they’re doing (December 7, 2010). Somewhere in our discussion we focus on education and on intellectually choosing a life without violence. I probe him, In what ways do you educate yourself?  136  By reading and writing. And listening and paying attention when they talk and not interrupting them. It kind of helped to make change with how I think and what I do. And about what’s life all about. And life’s good. I’m the only one who creates [my] problems. No one else. Just me. (December 7, 2010) David points to education, particularly Indigenous knowledge as pertinent to the ways continues to heal. His understanding of wholism also includes responsibility as both teacher and learner and activities of reading, listening, role modeling and mentoring.  Elders/Ancestors The words, we do not own these words, the teachings. It’s their purpose in life to pass it on, we’re oral people so that’s why there’s no books. So knowing this for myself this is what I understand, yes, I’ve picked up many teachings, many different teachings from across Canada in different places, different ceremonies that have these teachings so to help me I know this may help this other person if I give it to them when I hear the right situation for me to apply that teaching to them. ~ Joe (December 15, 2010) In Archibald (2008) Mary Uslick pronounces, When our ancestors talk about our mountains, our rivers, our trees and our lakes, they got names for all these places …The names of the mountains and everything was given by our ancestors because it had a meaning and when it [the name] was given and it should be respected …That’s how they teach the children about it. First of all, they must know the name of that mountain, why the old people call it that. (p. 73) As a researcher I find myself oscillating between traditional formations of naming and of more contemporary ways of both written and oral words deemed as ‘knowledge’. But remember, both are needed, my subconscious Joe-teaching reminds me. Just last night during one of our many 10 pm telephone conversations as friends, Roberta re/affirms my intuitive protocol: You know how to listen to your Elders. Others do not (Personal Communication, February 20, 2012). “A wise person knows the way, being able to discard what must be discarded and adopt what must be adopted” says the Dalai Lama and Farber (2005) within their Living Wisdom collection of reading cards, photographs and music. Throughout my partnership with WAVS, I hope to discard what I must and adopt what I am meant to from participants.  137  White Owl shares with me his multiple stories, strands of conversation that are like stones, driftwood and kelp that line Coast Salish territory beaches and become blended into this particular passage: A long time ago our people, they were taught to be good in their hearts, good to everybody, respectful, kind and gentle since when they’re babies right to when they grow up. Their way of life is a law. The way of life is to be good. But now we don’t have that culture ... it’s really fragmented and damaged because of this system, what we live under ... Canadian system … Even some of our leaders are still lost. (December 9, 2010) Is the loss of a soul about one’s spirit or one’s spiritual thinking? White Owl suggests that it is more than that. He seems to uphold a personal, ‘no-blame policy’ and suggests that things will change. Recalling the Sechelt beach that I hold in mind’s eye, its spacious visual reminds me that tides of Indigenous knowing can nudge where we are in the moment and the directions toward why and how we need to heal. I return to Joe to understand his paradoxical role of being an Elder and a Knowledge Keeper. Does he have a responsibility to pass on his wisdom as a WAVS facilitator? He explains: There are people out there unfortunately that will take all these teachings and put them in their pocket and not share them with people, saying ‘I have some knowledge that you don’t have and I’m better than you so you come to me and I’ll help you’. Yes it’s good, but to help that individual understand that they can help themselves by following certain teachings. They can pass this knowledge onto somebody else who may need that similar teaching in that time or situation. So I pass it on. (December 15, 2010) The topic of passed along storywork can be an incredibly a large, vast web of versions, in/ex/clusions and teachings. David talks about mentorship tides, something he learned from Warriors. I learned from Joe, how to be responsible for your own self. So when I work with the youth, there’s 50 of them, [aged] 14 to 24. And they look at me as an Elder but I don’t consider myself an Elder. I’m a human being. I’m not a medicine man or an Elder. The reason for that ... I am a great-grandfather and a grandfather but I don’t consider myself as a holy man. Maybe later on in the years but right now I’m just a human being learning about life, learning about myself. That’s what I want to fix. (December 7, 2010)  138  David’s sense of humility, even his natural self-doubt is paradoxically what seems to make him trustworthy. His journey of learning about himself and of learning about life is the same one undertaken by the youth he mentors. He seems to deny his Indigenous role as Elder but prefers being called a grandfather, perhaps because he wants to address his nurturing and practical role in raising Aboriginal children through to healthy adulthood. David takes everyday concepts like ‘grandfather’ and ‘belonging’ and explicates the meanings they hold for him. [WAVS is] where I found myself, my feelings, my anger and where I felt accepted. Where people are really listening and people are trying to help each other to support each other to get better … to get better in ways of living or to enjoy themselves … as a human being, you know, to be a human. (December 7, 2010) Conversion is the first of many baby steps on the long walk to freedom. It takes time to learn the means to heal.  4.3  Closing Discussion While chapter 3 of this dissertation deals with the methodology used to learn from and assist  with Aboriginal families healing from challenges affecting their communities, this chapter focuses on articulating and conceptualizing WAVS’ cultural components. These include the figurative Medicine Wheel of wholistic wellness, rituals, storytelling, talking circles and reasons they are important interventions. In addition, societal inequities can cause us to judge each other and mainstream social resources can deny cultural relevancy and past circumstances. The result is severe damage to one another’s’ Sacred-self. Although people are not born inherently judgmental or abusive they may adapt to become this way in order to survive—sometimes ‘fighting’, sometimes ‘fleeing’, but in either case—disconnected from greater rhythms of nature and of society. As a remedy, cultural practices and rituals, no matter the place from which generation they originate remind First Nation peoples of our connections to the land, to a higher spiritual reality and to each other. Herein lies the importance of culture-specific practices to reinforce these connections and to pave the way for collaborative wholistic and sustainable healing. In contrast, a mainstream intervention model (e.g. a 12-step model for healing from alcoholism or refraining from violence) that incorporates little of the culture of the people it seeks to help, may exhibit a more limited focus. This myopic view is often one too generic for its intended goals and audiences. It may merely be a  139  sufficient-enough practice for as wide a range of demographic groups as possible, rather than an effective practice that works best for any particular individual, family or group. Within the former framework, an intervention model might not do much apart from dictate how one should regulate one’s behavior. Instead, it can disassociate someone from a maelstrom of sources of his/her deepseeded problems. A lack of spiritual or cultural teachings; emotional abuse (past or present); physical poverty and hunger; and lack of knowledge/information on how to lead a better life, can occur. Alternatively, the WAVS model as a culture-specific model puts the necessary focus on what peoples share in common as a result of their shared heritage; how their problems arise from many of the same sources; and how one’s healing is linked to the healing of a larger whole. All are fundamentally tied to a person’s life story and the history of the family/community/culture to which he/she belongs. In this particular chapter-section, I feel compelled to offer insights from Donna, who teaches me values of seeking wholism and of mentally-strenuous healing. Like other participants she emphasizes two key parts of the whole: the individual self and the familial self, where both are inextricably bound. As a positive result, “When we dwell in that balanced centre point; we cannot be controlled by our strong feelings or thoughts. From this Sacred-centre, whatever action we take will be taken because we decided to act and because it was good to do so” (Lane et al., p. 68). Donna categorizes her and Patrick’s imbalanced Sacred-selves, We’re talking monumental pain and dysfunction that flows down into everybody we come into contact with. [It takes] patience to wade through this. Like treating the whole person, the whole person. She describes her former self, when she and Patrick first met, as a raging alcoholic, I’m a depressive … I’m dependent … I’m co-dependent who has experienced different forms of violence and lack of control resulting in mental, emotional and physical abuse. (December 3, 2010) She also points toward an understanding that unification of the complete self, where all quadrants of the Medicine Wheel are in harmony with each other is necessary for healing to take hold. This harmonious cycle includes shifting histories—what crystalizes then, is what happened in the past and what may repeat itself, without the ‘growing pains’ of awareness and great inner-self work. The power of words, imposed or otherwise, to capture feelings and events is evident in many of the participants’ stories. For example, about Patrick, Donna compassionately tells me,  140  He’s my buddy; he’s my friend. I love him. Despite our two separate places in the universe in everything—our age, our education, our race, our culture our background --it couldn’t be more opposite. [But] somehow we meet. (December 3, 2010)  141  Chapter 5: WAVS Members’ Learnings Because my Métis skin colour is whiter than many First Nations peoples I feel privileged; I’ve not experienced racism in the many overt and/or insidious ways that my mentors like Roberta and Joyce have. However, I do experience able-ism—assumptions and ill-informed attitudes about my disabilities. For example, during recent physiotherapy appointment I am asked to rate my pain levels: 1 being the least to 10 being the highest. ‘And what is your pain level at this moment before your appointment?’ the receptionist asks me. ‘Maybe a 5’ I respond, already feeling fatigued for the day and as though I can no longer accurately rate anything in my life. And yet I can specifically reflect on this: when I wake in the morning and slowly sit on the edge of my bed, allowing each of my spinal vertebras to cautiously stack one-by-one upon themselves and then additionally brace for the weight of my head, my excruciating pain is—a 13, my mind suggests as I write this—off the charts no matter what mainstream linear scale provided to me. Fortunately, after a hot shower and efforts to ready myself for the day, my average pain level settles into a five to seven range. But like racism, it does not cease to exist and perhaps it never will. (Personal Field Note, May 20, 2009)  5.1  Context In this chapter I move beyond sharing what participants teach me and into the realm of  articulating what I learn through their intimate yet generous Indigenous storywork. It is here that I address the second of our collaborative research questions: “How does the WAVS intervention model impact and support members wishing to heal from both their inter-generational and contemporary perceptions and experiences of family violence?” In other words, how do the participants put to use the WAVS model of violence intervention in their socio-person lives outside of the organization? Stories of racism, oppression, punitive demands from society and inter-generational mis/understanding that motivates participants towards healing sometimes evoke in me questions that I am unable to answer. Nevertheless, I voice them for my readers and I to consider. For instance, in the South Dimension where I seek an understanding of the jailed experiences of Patrick, White Owl, David and Leslie, I also consider that not all questions such as ‘How did they use the teachings provided them in prison to prepare for their eventual release?’ cannot be fully answered within the scope of this particular dissertation. Here, I begin with an overview of participant-experiences healing as a result of the WAVS interventional healing model.  142  5.2  Participatory Healing At WAVS  5.2.1  Sacred-Self: Whatever I do today is going to impact tomorrow. ~ M.  I’m getting to know myself … you know that phrase, ‘know thyself?’ Well, I’m getting to that stage when I’m starting to know myself. And I’ve also, how can I put it, the kind of charges that I had was practicing Shamanism, and which deals with your mind, your body, your spirit, your emotions, your energy, movement and all kinds of things. Well, that’s the way my brain works. I’m starting to use that in a better … in a good way now. ~ Patrick (Present Member, December 8, 2010) Our Indigenous Sacred-centre can also understand the self as connected to community (Dei, 2000). Despite diversities of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, it could be said there may be a common worldview among Aboriginal peoples—that of wholism. For Indigenous peoples, wholism includes a connection to land and its connection to healing, spirituality, and an interconnectedness of universe (Levin and Herbert, 2004). A fundamental epistemology of First Nations peoples is sensing our individual self(ves), our Indigenous wholeness and our collective/ancestral/cultural connectedness to one another. (Aikenhead and Ogawa, 2007; Aluli-Meyer, 2001; Dei, 2000; Public Health Association of BC, 2008). Indigenous spiritual connectedness implies that our self((ves) are not meant to live in isolation. David conjectures that people care, even if it is negative or positive (February 18, 2011). He refers to plausible judgments that people may have about him. Regardless of how others may perceive a person, negative or not, all thoughts and opinions are welcome in light of the need for interconnectedness that we all have. Living in isolation may mean freedom from criticism but it is not what we strive for; rather, it is interdependence that permits a return to the wellness cycle that once was. Thus, laboring independently through our soci-personal issues signifies a notable disconnect that exists and that we are purposefully excluding our self from our community. Speaking of our-self and of our dis-ease is the first step to making change, especially if we are blinded by entrenched trauma whereby we likely cannot see the positive or negative impacts of our actions towards our selves and others. David explains one half of this continuum: I woke up and had a smudge to help me to have a…a safe day, so having a safe day, I had a good breakfast, looked at myself, cleaned myself then I came and met you [researcher]. And that’s what happy is. (December 7, 2010)  143  The act of naming our self in problems leads to reconciliation with the past. Through learning that inclusivity with the whole environment is needed for genuine healing, David feels comfortable enough with his life now that he willingly trusts me. By developing a sense of ownership around his past and presently and coming to terms with his mistakes, he is able to share his knowledge and experience with me. This process also relates to the North Dimension, which encompasses ancestral wisdom. Participants demonstrate that their decision to heal is a commitment with the self as Leslie proclaims, in reflection about his incarceration: I had made the decision that I was going to do some healing on this journey and turn my life around. … I knew that I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives (December 1, 2010). Leslie also extends the healing process to others in an atypical manner and may be considered rather extraordinary for any person in his situation, irrespective of cultural heritage. The more standard outcome of an oppressive-deficit model system like CSC encourages institutional self-destruction. We can accept that the elements of nature are fluid and changing but a decision like Leslie’s can be precise with no ebb and flow at all. Nature can change by necessity and so must humans, perhaps. As participants like Terry, M., Patsy, Patrick and David have experienced, some may need to give in to the inevitable flux of life and require a mindful release from their historical trauma by focusing on a spirituality and conscious return to well-being. However context-based or situational, healing-decisions can be within our self-control. In the inclusive Indigenous approach, healing must be wholistic. Healing is not as potent if the focus is placed merely on physical health. Due to the interactive nature of health in the total person, healing must address each component of spirit, heart, body and mind. Comprehensive healing of the self requires total healing across all realms.  5.2.2  East: I remember little bits and pieces of my household. ~ Patrick Earth  Some people, some personalities, spirits, souls, whatever – have to learn the hard way. So what better way than to plop them on the planet earth in human form and go, ‘Ok, smart ass. You think you want to do it on your own? okay, do it on your own. Go ahead. See what happens.’ ~ Gerry (Present Member, December 6, 2010) Terry notes that for deep healing to occur the sources of hurt and negative behaviors need to be examined. During our conversation about Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community counselors I ask him, 144  In non-Aboriginal counseling, you’re suggesting that there’s something there that they didn’t know how to dig further? I think they dealt more with the surface issues and how to control it and you, here’s some tools and write down what I’m feeling now to keep a log of it. But it wasn’t helping me to find out where it was coming from and why I was behaving like this, (March 16, 2011) Reflective of the Eastern Quadrant, an analogy can be drawn to the earth’s surface as representative of more simplistic and shallow healing. Conversely, by digging deeper into the soil and into the richness of each subterranean layer, Aboriginal people’s historically-complex traumas can bring about a more complete process of healing. With Terry I wonder aloud, Why do you think other Aboriginal organizations are unable to accomplish what you respect Warriors for? He diplomatically states, You know, I haven’t had too much experience – I’ve just had the one with the counseling with that but I can’t really say for sure that their approach is not working but I found that it was WAVS that helped me, particularly with me in a way because I can identify to a lot of the participants who are going there and what they’re going through. (March 16, 2011) Interestingly for Terry and many of the other participants, the notion of being able to relate to others who need healing seems to play a significant role in willingness to ‘buy into’ healing. Given exemplar claims and healing potential, the question then becomes, why choose WAVS? It seems to be the members/participants themselves, their relations to one another and to their learned use of traditional cultural healing practices that make a huge difference. Familiarity with both the background and the situations of other participants imparts a feeling of comfort. Being in their homeland in spite of the difficult natures of violent traumas acts as a balm. Practicing traditional forms of healing, participants engage in a custom that forges ties with their ancestors who had also lived with and depended on Mother Earth, and I would add, Father Sky, Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Indigenous experiences within difficult urban environments require a radical new model. Cardinal and Armstrong (1991) note, In the past Native Aboriginals of North America lived their lives in harmony with nature and their own nature. It was a way of thinking, a way of being. It was not a  145  way of adversary, of being adversarial to nature and one’s own nature. Their ways were to understand human nature and the environment and their part in it. Aboriginal cultures evolved into a way of being in touch with the earth and experiencing the reality of being part of the earth (p. 12). Along the same vein Castellano (2000) observes that learning from the land is experiential. Nature is both physical and spiritual simultaneously and interactively: existence only makes sense when physical and spiritual experiences are unified and meld well with wholistic presupposition. Over the past century Indigenous peoples whose lands are now occupied by a concrete landscape have witnessed an adversarial transformation. Access to the earth predominates to one where we must actively seek out the Earth. As such Indigenous peoples are compelled to develop a relationship with the modern environment that is fused using elements previously found naturally in the earth. From within the earth/deeply-inner analogy, I delve further: What I’m hearing, Terry, is the cliché, the difference between a band-aid for symptoms and not healing the original wounds. Exactly. What I’m saying, putting a band-aid on it but they’re not really going deep to where it stems from to that anger point. (March 16, 2011) Deep issues require solutions of the same magnitude. Not examining the root causes of said issues pays lip service to the matter in question and inadvertently worsens these problems. Mere surface interventions give the impression to those who are only superficially informed about Indigenous issues that enough is already being done. As a result Indigenous peoples are represented as those who cannot or refuse to take advantage of fair opportunities. Such difficulties can be illustrated with a metaphor of someone trying to dig a large hole with a spoon instead of a shovel, or even a backhoe. This is also reminiscent of an integral practice in gardening: to remove weeds, simply snapping off the flower portion is not beneficial. Instead, digging deeper to remove the weed by its roots is best; otherwise, it will grow back stronger and fiercer. Yet I wonder, how strong is a weed? Can it be any greater or less in strength than merging crystals of glass that also originate from earthly elements? In our discussion about M’s propensity for breaking glass dishes, she expects me to hopefully supply a subconscious motivation for her destructiveness with glass. Perhaps she seeks a superficial explanation that isn’t tied to her own survival since her own interpretation of glass breaking is more perilous—an alternative to wanting to break herself. This glass-breaking habit can also be viewed  146  metaphorically. Glass comes from the sands of Earth— the foundation of all life. A brittle foundation means a vulnerable and tenuous future and indeed for M., it was just that. Her vulnerable foundation of being in and out of the residential school system made everything in her life volatile and she seemed to shatter glass in acceptance of this cruel fate.  Spiritual I just appreciate the way Joe conducts himself. I like the way he prays – he prays for all the directions, he prays for people who are on the street, he prays for people that are in the spirit world. He doesn’t forget and if he forgets he says, ‘If I’ve forgotten anything, forgive me.’ ~ David (Former Member, February 28, 2011) The Elder role models at Warriors, Dan and Joe, embody the practice of spirituality in their work and in doing so inspire others to engage in Indigenous spiritual tradition. They are cognizant of the interconnectedness of both living and non-living beings, emanating prayers and practices from within the heart. Donna explains to me the uniqueness of the WAVS wholeness model; it is effective because spirituality and ritual are integral components of the program. Spirituality holds a significant place in the lives of First Nations peoples. The healing path involves establishing a stable foundation that infuses the sacred in each step of the way. Stability is critical to the therapeutic process. Engaging in ritual can also be comforting like a patchwork quilt (Donna, December 3, 2010) and predictable habits that occupy the moments of our daily lives. Carrying out these spiritual practices can lend a sense of solid grounding to spiritual people, particularly WAVS members. The result can free our cognitive processes for other more energytaxing activities. Spirituality is also seen as a cultural practice of Aboriginal peoples that is comforting to those acquainted with or immersed in it. Nevertheless, it may be novel to others, particularly those who have been distanced from traditional practices impacted by colonization. Durie (2004) warns, “The results of colonization were consistently cataclysmic. A common pattern emerged: loss of culture, loss of land, loss of voice, loss of population, loss of dignity, loss of health and well-being” (p. 1138). Warrior’s facilitators help to quell the anxiety of new members who may hold other religious spiritual beliefs by informing them that wholistic healing and balance is key at WAVS, regardless of circumstances, ethnicity or religiosity. Among the younger generation of Aboriginal peoples, parents involve their children in spirituality as a way to instill cultural values. This inter-generational interaction often promotes a stronger connection between the children and their parents. The passing down of spiritual knowledge, the way Melanie ‘cleans’ with her children, can result in a deeper relationship between today’s youth and their parents whose own familial 147  relationships were forced into disarray as late as only one generation ago. M. succinctly attests to this: Before [residential school] I can say that I had a pretty idyllic life. I was spoiled, I was treasured, you know, I was raised by my grandparents in the traditional way. (March 3, 2011). She is one of several participants who cherish their early years being raised by grandparents and the peace of mind that foundation gave them, thus offsetting what would come next.  Children [My 12 year-old daughter’s ultimatum to me] was overwhelming at first but it was almost like being able to listen to the little girl in me; something I never had with my mom, being able to say those kinds of things to her without her getting angry or throwing things at me or dragging me around by my hair – which was thee thing that she did on a regular basis. ~ Melanie (Present Member, March 10, 2011) For many First Nations people children represent innocence as they bring natural joy into the lives of those around them. Each child is a unique individual and cherished for his or her innocence. Patrick describes that he feels a drive to protect the innocence of these children from the wrath of ignorant adults. Younger ones represent a large piece of his childhood that was taken from him for which he continues to yearn; the trauma he experienced in a residential school effectively thwarted his ability to mature into adulthood. In Gail’s childhood the incessant violence she experienced instinctively compelled her to access an innate wisdom of hiding—thus protecting—herself. Her body learned to sense and to anticipate imminent danger. Intuition coupled with the childhood game of hide-and-seek enabled her to seek safety and presently guide WAVS members. According to Gail this fear is also protection. Unfortunately, not all members who experience such situations developed this instinctual sense on which to rely. Patrick, too, has become used to relying and living on sheer instinct based on his strong ability to live on the streets when not in prison. I am grateful for Patrick’s trust in me to share an exchange such as ours that takes place at a neighbourhood café. Well aware of the notion of ‘watching your back’ as self-protection, I feel slightly surprised when he arrives for our second conversation and motions me to the back of the café. Following his cue I sit in a plush wingback chair against the wall. Patrick settles into a matching ‘face to face’ chair whereby his back is to the patrons, the front door and the bustling street pedestrians. Such a position certainly piques my awareness and the following dialogue ensues:  148  Patrick, I’m curious. You’re watching everybody, aren’t you? I mean, I’m watching you and I’m thinking, are you with me in conversation? Do you still hear my questions? Or do you get distracted? Tell me about that. I mean, you just watch everybody like an eagle. And that’s your Aboriginal name isn’t it? You’re … Young Eagle. Yes, I can see that. You’re watching everyone with your Eagle eye (Patrick laughs). But tell me, what brings you to be a people watcher? It let’s me know what’s here. There are a lot of things that I’m aware of. I came from the street, so I’ve got to be constantly aware about that part. Like, there could be a robbery, there could be, uh, a violent person coming in, there could be a not-so-nice person coming in, there could be a nice person coming in. Do you feel, like, do you watch like that as a way of protecting those with you? Kind of, yeah. I’m very vigilant in that way … Just like, as I’m watching you I can hear voices, I can hear chairs rattling, I can hear phones ringing, people talking, people ordering. Can you see the door in your peripheral vision to kind of watch when people are coming in? I can see shadows on the wall. If somebody’s walking this way, I can see [their] shadow. So behind me on the wall, while you and I are facing one another and visiting with me, you’re also reading shadows; that somebody is walking towards the washroom door to my left. I learned this from jail. Tell me about that? Well, jail is a very volatile place. And did anyone in there take you under their wing and teach you those skills?  149  Nope. (December 8, 2010) In other words, he learned them out of necessity. The volatile nature of prison that Patrick describes resonates with a description by Leonard Peltier, an American Federal prison inmate. A well-known activist and author of “Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance” (1997), he gives this description of jail at night and of his awareness of shadows: Another day ends. That’s good. But now another night is beginning. And that’s bad. The nights are worse. The days just happen to you. The nights you’ve got to imagine, to conjure up, all by yourself. They’re the stuff of your own nightmares. The lights go down but they never quite go out in here. Shadows lurk everywhere. Shadows within shadows. I’m one of those shadows myself… known as U.S. Prisoner # 89637-132. (p. 4) Both Patrick and Peltier indicate that people can identify each other in many ways, even as shadows or numbers. However, the difference between being identified as such and being identified as people is that shadows and numbers are dehumanized—they lack individual features and look like generic silhouette cut-outs of human beings. Peltier’s observations also speak to the multiple identities that we carry, some very apparent, others kept under the surface until they reveal themselves in environmental changes for better or worse. For example, a child being taken away from her grandparents and placed in residential school or a survivor of family violence walking through the door at WAVS. Children taking care of children as Patsy previously mentions, is a topic that Millie broaches during our sharing circle. She and Stephanie are the on-site child-minders for the Monday and Thursday evening meetings so that parents can attend without worry for their young ones. Millie represents an urban Aboriginal person who has adopted some of the more Western parental values. She describes a child-minding experience one evening. [She was] probably about 8 and the only thing that I do remember is a little girl being like a parent to her sister. I finally told her, ‘Do not look after your siblings while you’re here— that’s not your job. I want you to be a kid. Play. You’re only 8, play.’ She just looked at me and I said, ‘That’s not what your job is here.’ Every time her brother cried, she’d run and look after him, [and] I just told her to be a kid. She didn’t take to that right away and I  150  understand that because a lot of us grew up too fast when looking after ones that were younger. (February 1, 2011) Millie observes and seeks to change this dynamic when she interacts with the older sister who feels it her familial responsibility to look after her younger sibling. It is likely a role instilled in her as soon as her sibling was born. Internalizing this role, it is sometimes difficult for an older sibling to detach from this duty as an older-sibling caregiver when in the setting of daycare. Her reluctance to engage in play may mean that she does not even know what it means ‘to play’. Such responsibilities are reflective of Indigenous values are contrary to being raised with ‘indifference’ as Patsy explains. The entire family contributes to the care of the younger children. Meanwhile, Stephanie explores her feelings of coming full circle with WAVS. She also highlights the significant value that Aboriginal children have within her local community in Vancouver. I used to work with Aboriginal children before, with children in this program and now I’m in this program where there was only one Aboriginal child there and I missed it. So coming back here, it was nice getting back and helping the young ones learning and teaching them. It’s good to be back, coming in and seeing new ones and ones that were here before. (February 1, 2011)  5.2.3  South: I was emotionally smart, so I was like a loose cannon going everywhere and nowhere at the same time. ~ Patsy Fire  I was really angry. The whole time I was trying to block out the flashbacks and memories and it didn’t seem to be working. I was carrying around weapons – knives – walking the streets looking for a person to kill. I was so angry that I wanted to kill somebody. I walked around streets at night in the rain looking for someone who would look at me the wrong way or say the wrong thing – just kinda – an excuse to kill them. ~ Gerry (Present Member, December 6, 2010) Fire represents emotions of passion and tension embodied within participants’ stories. These stories must be shared with others so that the participant can digest, understand and come to terms with them. Like passion, it is often difficult to contain fire; even with little fuel it is able to engulf an object in flames. Lee (2000) views fire in this way:  151  The consuming nature of fire also draws us into its realm. Our feelings are heightened by a warm bonfire, feelings we do not have for an electric heater, as practical as it may be. Some say it is because our nature and that of fire are the same—destructive when uncontrolled, beneficial when ordered and mesmerizing at all times (p. 44) Fire operates in a snowballing effect driving WAVS members towards wellness. It can also be seen as a constructive tool used frequently among Indigenous peoples throughout the world to burn the undergrowth to pave a healthier path for new forest growth. This element is also used in the ‘slash and burn’ method of agriculture where vegetation is cut down and then any remaining foliage is burned. Ashes fertilize the soil in the next round of crops. After the first cycle of crops is planted and harvested the land must then be left alone and for healing and regeneration. Like these fires, shifting roles between researcher and participant can become reciprocal storywork. While seeking to learn more about the members who attend WAVS I spontaneously ask Patrick, Our stories are very personal and I sometimes think, ‘Why am I asking you that question?’ What does that have to do with Warriors Against Violence?’ Do you see those connections too or do you think when I ask some things, ‘they’re just off the wall?’ He supports my spontaneous reflection: All your questions are valid. I feel that I’m connected to Warriors, so all the questions you’re asking are connected in a unique way. They have a unique way of being connected to me being a part of [this study]. (February 16, 2011) When Patrick speaks earlier of being this rebellious person with regard to his feelings and emotions he reflects upon his time as trapped within fire and emotion. Fire may represent the rebellious side of him that ignites when he feels wounded by others. He recognizes the commonalities between how his actions hurt another and how the actions of others pain him and lead him to develop empathetic feelings. It is as if empathy modeled at Warriors symbolizes waters of cessation for flames of misunderstanding and rebellion.  152  Racism Racism is one form of anger that can be outwardly expressed. David shares a poignant perspective about coping with racism: I get along with everyone as long as they’re human, as long as they have respect (February 28, 2010). Patrick recognizes his own racist epithets as rooted in his being on the receiving end of racism. As he comes to realize the pain he feels resulting from the actions of others and is more aware now, that he has a choice in how he conducts himself moving forward. Although he may not yet be where he wants, he is now on the path towards healing. Alternatively, Michael is farther along in his healing and exhibits sounder convictions. After sharing with me his boyhood embarrassment of his Indian father, Michael talks more about witnessing racism: Oh, I’ve had friends of mine where something would happen, and it’s like they go to a different place and they’re calling [someone] ‘Whitey’ and I’m like, ‘Holy Shit, where is this coming from? You’re a peer in the community and you’re talking like this?’ But it’s because we all feel this injustice, right? It’s never far away and it’s just … trying to move past that and do good things but it’s still there, right? (December 9, 2010) Healing involves passionately challenging one another. Even role models within the community such as Michael’s comrades are vulnerable to thoughts of racism, which sheds light on how close these issues are to systemic surfaces of attitudes and verbal contexts. Patsy admits to having internalized racism: I’m just so used to being insulted since the first time being called ‘Indian’. I’ve always taken it in. I’m just so used to it, it’s like water off my back now (December 17, 2010). Since my physical pain is so much more than placid ‘water off a duck’s back’ I am left to wonder if the same is for Patsy’s normalized racism. Her social conditioning has left a literal dark spot on her that resurfaces discursively from time to time, reminding her of her inferiority on the basis of her ‘Indian-ness’. In childhood she learned that racism could be expressed as a double standard. She was lectured for being ‘racist’ and calling the children White but the White children were not reprimanded for calling her an Indian. This internalized racism reflects the fire that seems to have surrounded her from all sides until it had no place to go but to her very core. Today racism is no longer a stranger but exists as a part of Patsy’s Sacred-self. It se