HOW DO YUKON INDIGENOUS PEOPLE DEFINE HEALING FROM THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL EXPERIENCE? by Maisie Smith B.A., Simon Fraser University, 1999 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Counselling Psychology) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) August 2017 © Maisie Smith, 2017ii Abstract This study used a storytelling method within the paradigm of an Indigenous methodology. In Canada, qualitative evidence has revealed that the Indigenous people have been affected by colonization and the residential school experience. These effects include but are not limited to trauma, intergenerational trauma, cultural interruption, genocide, segregation, racism, prejudices, and forced assimilation. For Yukon Indigenous people, first-generation survivors were directly impacted, and the next three generations are also indirectly. Efforts by Western counselling methods to support Indigenous people in Canada including those in Yukon with whom the researcher is closely associated have not been successful. This study investigated what method(s) might work to better support and sustain Indigenous people who attended Yukon residential schools. This study is the first academic investigation in the Yukon to look at first-generation survivors and record their stories about their healing journey. Nine Yukon Indigenous residential school survivors (5 females, 4 males) between the ages of 62 to 77, who had been on their healing path for a minimum of two years, shared their stories. This investigation revealed that traditional healing practices were useful for these residential school survivors in starting and sustaining their healing journey. One of the implications of the results of this study is that Western counselling methods must acknowledge, include, and work with our people in a culturally safe and competent manner. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action stipulates that Canada’s health care system must include Indigenous peoples’ right to proper health care. Clinical, practical, social, and methodological implications are discussed, and recommendations for future research as well as practical interventions are suggested. iii Lay Summary This study used an Indigenous research method by asking residential school survivors to tell their story about their healing journey. In Canada, previous research has shown that the Indigenous people have been affected by the actions of Euro-Canadian settlers inhabiting and taking control over the Indigenous people by creating residential schools. This control resulted in Indigenous people being devastated throughout the generations, suffering cultural harm, murder, separation, racism, and forced integration into Euro-Canadian culture. Western counselling practices tried to support Indigenous people but were not helpful. This study investigated what might work to better support and sustain Indigenous people. The research is the first educational study in the Yukon to look at survivors and record their healing stories. This research revealed that Traditional Indigenous healing practices were useful for these survivors in starting and sustaining their healing. Suggestions are discussed and recommendations for future research are put forward. iv Preface This thesis is original, independent, and unpublished work by the author, Maisie Smith, and was conducted in accordance with the protocol approved by the University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB). Ethics certificate number H16-01240 was issued by BREB on June 27, 2016. v Table of Contents Abstract .............................................................................................................................. ii Lay Summary ................................................................................................................... iii Preface ............................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents .............................................................................................................. v Acknowledgements ......................................................................................................... vii Dedication .......................................................................................................................... x Chapter 1: The Journey Begins (Introduction) ............................................................. 1 Personal narrative.................................................................................................... 1 The colonial problem .............................................................................................. 5 Our traditional healing ............................................................................................ 8 Chapter 2: The Colonized to the Decolonized (literature review) .............................. 13 What needs to change?.......................................................................................... 13 The Colonized – The history of the First Peoples................................................. 14 Residential schools and Yukon Indigenous People .............................................. 16 The undertones of oppression (colonization continues) ....................................... 17 Walking together on the healing path (de-colonizing) ......................................... 23 All our relations - interconnectedness ................................................................... 28 Conclusion ............................................................................................................ 34 Chapter 3: Indigenizing Ways of Knowing (method) .................................................. 36 Holistic philosophy of knowledge ........................................................................ 36 Searching for ways of knowing ............................................................................ 37 Indigenizing the research ...................................................................................... 41 Community values – working together ................................................................. 44 Invitation ............................................................................................................... 45 Storytellers and teachers ....................................................................................... 46 Inclusion and exclusion criteria ............................................................................ 47 What I hoped to learn ............................................................................................ 48 Our healing stories ................................................................................................ 49 Listening with my three ears ................................................................................. 52 Blazing the trail ..................................................................................................... 53 Storytelling in balance .......................................................................................... 54 vi Ethics..................................................................................................................... 55 Holders of the stories ............................................................................................ 57 Meaning making ................................................................................................... 58 Chapter 4: Reconnecting with our Traditional Healing - Findings ........................... 62 Story 1: Roger’s Story .......................................................................................... 62 Story 2: Barb’s Story ............................................................................................ 65 Story 3: Ed’s Story ................................................................................................ 68 Story 4: William’s Story ....................................................................................... 71 Story 5: Grandmother’s Story ............................................................................... 74 Story 6: Norman’s Story ....................................................................................... 77 Story 7: Alice’s Story............................................................................................ 80 Story 8: Adeline’s Story........................................................................................ 83 Story 9: Judy’s Story ............................................................................................. 85 Closing the circle .................................................................................................. 88 Chapter 5: Conversation ................................................................................................ 89 Our healing............................................................................................................ 90 Personal perspective.............................................................................................. 92 Limitations and delimitations ............................................................................... 94 Looking forward ................................................................................................... 98 Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 102 Chapter 6: Walking with the storytellers (Personal notes and reflections) ............. 104 References ...................................................................................................................... 107 Appendices ..................................................................................................................... 114 Appendix A: The Stories .................................................................................... 114 Story 1: Roger’s Story .................................................................................. 114 Story 2: Barb’s Story .................................................................................... 129 Story 3: Ed’s Story ........................................................................................ 146 Story 4: William’s Story ............................................................................... 167 Story 5: Grandmother’s Story ....................................................................... 181 Story 6: Norman’s Story ............................................................................... 191 Story 7: Alice’s Story.................................................................................... 200 Story 8: Adeline’s Story................................................................................ 212 Story 9: Judy’s Story ..................................................................................... 224 Appendix B: Who Am I? Diagram ..................................................................... 240 Appendix C: Letter of First Contact ................................................................... 241 vii Appendix D: Consent Form ................................................................................ 245 Appendix E: List of supports .............................................................................. 250 Appendix F: Traditional Territories of Yukon FNs ............................................ 251 viii Acknowledgements Great Spirit and all our relations, I feel your presence with me throughout my continued journey here on Mother Earth, I am grateful and thankful every day for this life. I pray always for spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical guidance. I would like to recognize and acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) - People of the River Grass whose unceded traditional territory is what is now called Greater Vancouver and surrounding area. The University of British Columbia occupies a portion of their lands where I resided and acquired my post-secondary education. I wish to thank my supervisor and committee member Dr. Ishu Ishiyama for his educational support and guidance. I would also like to thank my committee member, Dr. Michael Marker for his support and knowledge on Indigenous Methodology. To my committee member, Dr. Alanaise Goodwill (Assistant Professor in counselling psychology, SFU) and a member of the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, Treaty One Territory for her support, guidance, and knowledge. I will not ever forget. For the storytellers: Roger Ellis (Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in FN), Barbara Hume (Champagne/Aishihik FN), Ed Anderson (Taku River Tlingit FN), William Carlick (Kwanlin Dun FN), Grandmother (Yukon FN Elder), Norman Jack (Liard FN), Alice Donnessey (Liard FN), Adeline Webber (Teslin Tlingit Tribal Council), and Judy Gingell (Kwanlin Dun FN). I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sharing your healing stories with me I am humbled and honored by your faith, trust, and support. If it were not for all of your stories this thesis would not be possible, you are researchers who also walk with me. You have all contributed to the healing of our people through your stories – Gunalchîsh! ix I give thanks to Elder Randall Tetlichi, a member of the Vuntut Gwitchin FN for his advice, and guidance at the early stages of the research process. Your advice has been invaluable to the research. To my auntie Doris Allen, member of the Vuntut Gwitchin FN, I appreciate your guidance and advice of how to approach my research in a good way with an open heart. Màhsi’! I want to recognize and acknowledge the funding provided by the Department of Education, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations for their support in helping me attain my master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. I would not have acquired this graduate degree if it were not for your financial support. I am so proud of our government and their continued support of all our students to attain a higher education. Lastly, I thank my late parents Borden Smith (Carcross Tagish FN) and my mother Minnie (Allen) Smith (Champagne/Aishihik FN), your knowledge and wisdom is my guiding light. You taught me to always know who I am and where I come from. I learned our traditional ways from both of you. I am so proud and honored to be your youngest daughter. You are both always with me. x Dedication For my late father A residential school survivor Borden Smith – Ganaxtedi Crow Clan October 24, 1918 – May 29, 2001 Gunalchîsh Dad for all the stories you shared with me about our people and traditional ways, your knowledge and wisdom was remarkable. I know you are with us always we carry you in our hearts and memories. You prepared me so well for listening with my heart for the storywork in this thesis. I love you. 1 Chapter 1: The Journey Begins (Introduction) Personal Narrative As an Indigenous person growing up in our culture, my parents told me we had an obligation to ‘not just say our name’ when introducing ourselves. They asked, “how will people know who we are and how to relate to us if we do not place ourselves”? Absolon (2011) and Lavallee (2009) state that Indigenous researchers must locate themselves in their research by identifying who they are, where they come from and who are our Ancestors. Through the identification of ourselves and our worldviews, people can place us, and this is an important way to develop trust and understanding (Lavallee, 2009). I am a part of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations in the unceded traditional territory of the Southern Tutchone people. Our ancestry includes Tlingit and Northern Tutchone. We follow our mother’s lineage; she belonged to the Wolf and Daklaweidi Clan, and her ancestry was Tlingit. Our father was from the Carcross/Tagish First Nations in the unceded traditional territory of the Tagish people, and his ancestry was Tlingit and Northern Tutchone. Our ancestry comes from Southeast Alaska, and I am one of the direct descendants of Keish (aka Skookum Jim Mason) from our father’s lineage. Keish was our father’s great, great uncle. As a child growing up our parents told us many times “this is who you are and this is how you will introduce yourself when asked”. I have learned through doing this that many people from our culture can situate me immediately by saying “yes I know who you are now and I know your family”. This introduction is also seen as a sign of respect and I feel like I am understood and welcomed by the people and in turn, they tell me who they are so I was able to place them. In this document, I use the terms “Aboriginal,” “Indigenous” “Indian,” and “First Nations” interchangeably, and each of them refers to all people of Indigenous ancestry. 2 Depending on the context and preference, the terms used in this document are conveyed out of respect for the scholars and groups who use these terms in their research. For the methodological portion of this thesis, “participant,” “storyteller,” “Elder,” and “teacher” all refer to the research subjects, and they are used interchangeably by myself and the scholars cited in this document. I refer to “researcher,” “student,” and “learner” to also mean researcher based on the various context these terms are used by the research scholars and myself. I have worked with our people for approximately fourteen years in the health and social fields. I have counselled and supported our people who attended residential schools or were second and third-generation survivors of the residential school experience. I discovered through my work experience that mainstream Western counselling psychology does not fit with or support our people on their healing journey from the traumatic effects of the residential school experience. This research is important to me because I want to continue to work with our people in an effective, constructive, and holistic way that includes traditional healing practices as a part of the counselling process. As S. Wilson (group presentation, October 14, 2015) points out, Aboriginal students are at university for their families, community, and grandchildren, and not solely for the betterment of themselves. My educational endeavors have always been to support our community in healing from the effects of colonization. Growing up as a second-generation survivor of the residential school experience, I continue to see the effects of colonization on our family (who are all first-generation survivors) and our community. As a result of colonization, I have worked with many of our people who are traumatized, disconnected, and split between two worlds (Western and traditional); this split has created many social issues for our people. I realize that I am also 3 affected by colonization and I have worked hard to decolonize myself as I entered into the research process utilizing an Indigenous methodology. As I walk in two worlds, I find myself, as Absolon (2011) indicated, having each of my feet in different canoes and I struggle to keep my balance. My colonized beliefs lack faith when my Indigenous side says to have faith in the unknown and trust the process because the process will happen as it should. The colonized side of me struggles with a journey that is unknown and wants to hold on to preconceived notions of how I think the research should unfold. I realize this doubt and uneasiness comes from Western colonial influences, and if I allow our Indigenous worldview to influence me, then confidence, strength, and pride come forth. I find myself wavering between colonial and traditional influences, and I can only hope that I will feed my traditional influences more to help me see the potential of what I am about to do as a researcher. I want to maintain balance in the four directions, and I have to pray to Creator for strength to hold on to my Aboriginal identity as I try to meet the requirements of the academy and not lose who I am by respecting the knowledge I will acquire from our community. I was told to learn to live in the environment [the academy] you are in - it’s for a short time - and to take what I need to help our people and leave the rest (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). Absolon (2011) indicates that it is easier to use Western research approaches that allow the researcher to maintain an objective, distant method, and just get the research done. A Western approach would mean disconnecting on many levels from the personal, spiritual, and interconnectedness that an Indigenous methodology would include (Absolon, 2011). As an Indigenous researcher, this would be like “cutting off my nose to spite my face”. Interconnectedness cannot be ignored as it is an essential part of our cultural beliefs and influences how we view the world around us. Using an Indigenous methodology within the 4 academy means taking a trail that is less travelled and will require some brush clearing along the way (Absolon, 2011). Absolon (2011) states: Indigenous voices across the land are echoing that we must continue to assert our knowledge and power as Indigenous peoples by speaking in our own voices and providing a space for the voices of our people to come forward. We ought not to be silenced or to be afraid to speak in our own voice for fear of reprisal or criticism (p. 146). Absolon (2011) describes how the academy wants to influence or steer Indigenous researchers to do research within the confines of Western guidelines because the “gatekeepers” do not fully understand or see the value in what we want to study. She calls this “intellectual assimilation” (p. 146). I wavered about using an Indigenous methodology and was even warned that this approach would be more daunting and challenging within a Western academy, but a voice inside me, my heart, and most importantly all our relations would not be silenced. Lavallee (2009) discusses this very issue with a student who was also discouraged from using an Indigenous methodology because it would not be seen as valid within the academy. For Indigenous researchers to decolonize our research, we must move forward by advancing our ways of knowing within the academy. Indigenous ways of knowing reflect a core value - reciprocity. “We need to give back to future Indigenous scholars by pushing forth the recognition of Indigenous knowledge in the academy and research by publishing this work” (Lavallee, 2009, p. 36). I am optimistic this research will assist in blazing the trail for future scholars in the academy to do research from a decolonized perspective. The longest journey a person might take is from their head to their heart (Absolon, 2011). Indigenous methodologies are often driven by the heart and spirit and this journey is not easy (Absolon, 2011). Research develops naturally and can be hard to explain because for Aboriginal researchers there is more than one way to explain or express besides the written word. For our people, an explanation can come in the form of storytelling, graphics, video, dance, drumming, 5 songs, arts, poetry, visions, metaphors, and dreams (Absolon, 2011; Kovach, 2009; Wilson, 2008). I relate to the challenges of using an Indigenous methodology because I also struggle with trying to explain myself in written form when my culture comes from an oral tradition. Metaphorically, the struggle to explain an Indigenous methodology in writing is like trying to teach someone to set a gopher trap through written instruction when it would be so much easier to demonstrate or have the student set a trap. The Colonial Problem As therapists, when we think about counselling we need to consider who we will be counselling and what method will work best for a particular population. Western counselling practices and theories come from a Euro-centric perspective and may not fit with other cultural groups and different worldviews (Duran & Duran, 1995; McCormick, 1996). For most of our people using linear Western counselling practices and theories has not worked well to support our peoples’ healing. Duran & Duran (1995) speak of the Western thinking that is part of the foundation of psychological therapy: “In no way does Western thinking address any system of cognition except its own. Given that Judeo-Christian belief systems include notions of the Creator putting hands in charge of all creations, it is easy to understand why this group of people assumes that it also possesses the ultimate way of describing psychological phenomena for all humanity. In reality, the thought that what is right comes from one worldview produces a narcissistic worldview that desecrates and destroys much of what is known as culture and cosmological perspective” (p. 17). This explains why many of our people refuse to seek counselling from Western therapists because the very services they seek out are a part of the original problem (Duran & Duran, 1995). I have recently pondered this, and it is clear to me that most of our people do not seek out psychological services from the dominant culture that assimilated our people. Metaphorically 6 speaking it would be like escaping from the hands of the enemy only for the enemy to later provide trauma counselling for imprisoning you – this does not feel like the best or safest approach. An important point made by Cavalieri (2013) that she addresses in her discussions with American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) peoples is that spirituality is deeply connected within the psyche of the person. Mainstream Western thinking and therapies do not make this distinction and it is problematic for our people who seek counselling. AIAN people believe that in tribal cosmology well-being is linked to reciprocity by nurturing human spirituality with other spirits of the physical world (Cavalieri, 2013). An example of this worldview is how I find wellness, harmony, and balance by spending time in nature, touching the trees, listening to waves on the beach, hearing the Raven speak to me and feeling our Ancestors around me. This spiritual harmony comes from knowing I am on the lands of our people who have walked here for tens of thousands of years and I still feel their presence and energy. There is an obvious connection to the land, animals, spirit, and all our relations that goes beyond the Western medical model’s conception of mental wellness. Western thought believes that we are all linearly progressing through time and with each era we are improving as a society (Cavalieri, 2013). For our people, the idea of improving with each era is stifled by the belief that as an oppressed people we have biologically internalized the effects of racism and thus are opposed to this idea that we are progressing in the current context. The ongoing threat of losing our language and traditional knowledge with each passing day due to the loss of our respected Elders explicitly challenges this notion of progress (Cavalieri, 2013). Heilbron and Guttman (2000) point out that Western counselling failed our people because cultural and traditional beliefs and methods were not used in the counselling process. 7 McCormick (1996) states “despite good intentions on behalf of the mental health professions, one culture should not impose its concepts of causation or systems of classification on another culture” (p. 164). For non-Aboriginal counsellors to successfully counsel our people there must be openness, acceptance, and importance placed on traditional healing beliefs and practices. There needs to be an awareness of the issues around respect and trust in developing rapport. Collaborative therapies appear to be more acceptable to our people, especially with regards to cultural practices (McCormick, 1996). A collective approach to counselling versus one-to-one counselling seems to be a better fit with our people. For example, group counselling set-up as a circle and sharing our teachings is an appropriate method. Traditional healing may extend beyond the circle to include the community, which may go against Western counselling ethics regarding confidentiality. This approach to traditional healing speaks to collective versus independent approaches to counselling. There may also be a need to include an Aboriginal co-leader to be a part of the group when a non-Aboriginal counsellor is leading the circle (Heilbron & Guttman, 2000). Before colonization, our people held holistic worldviews that influenced traditional ways of healing. As Western counselling practices have in many ways failed to support our people in the process of healing from the effects of colonization, questions arise about how this can be done more effectively. Debates around whether or not Western counselling and traditional healing practices should be integrated, done in collaboration or remain as separate approaches to healing for our people is a very complex issue. For our people who are on their healing journey, there could be other reasons and supports to help them that have nothing to do with Western or traditional practices. As a traditional counsellor, it is important for me to understand the various 8 ways that our people view healing, and what they find is or was healing for them to be well informed on the counselling methods I implement. Our Traditional Healing We have practiced our healing methods since 12,000 to 40,000 years ago, and they are considered time-honored, continuous practices that are the oldest form of holistic medicine (Robbins & Dewar, 2011; Struthers, Eschiti, & Patchell, 2004). Healing is practiced by many Indigenous tribes and cultures around the world and is deeply rooted and complex (Struthers, Eschiti, & Patchell, 2004). Traditional healing is defined uniquely by different tribes and is based in language and land (Robbins & Dewar, 2011). Our healing is grounded in the interconnectedness between humans and the earth, where the earth is seen as a source of life and not as a resource (Robbins & Dewar, 2011). Indigenous medicines derive from the natural world, whereas modern medicine follows Western science (Struthers & Eschiti, 2005). Many Indigenous healers see traditional healing as the original method and not alternative medicine in the way that Western medical science does (Struthers, Eschiti, & Patchell, 2004). Traditional healing stands alone and is not considered a predecessor to Western medicine (Struthers, Eschiti, & Patchell, 2004). In Indigenous healing, there is a focus on the spiritual, the sacred and supernatural forces (Struthers, Eschiti, & Patchell, 2004). This focus includes balance in the four directions within the medicine wheel: physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental (Robins & Dewar, 2011). Compared to Western medicine, which is more physical and physiological, traditional healing is mystical and depends on phenomena. For instance, Struthers, Eschiti, & Patchell (2004) describe how a man was able to heal through touch by taking away the crippling effects of a snake bite in 9 another. Our healing practices are sacred, powerful, mysterious, and an integral part of our beliefs and way of life. Our traditional healing and healers are defined by various names and terms. The name ‘traditional medicine’ is a colonial name introduced to English-speaking tribes, and not an Indigenous concept (Robbins & Dewar, 2011). Traditional healing has been called: Indian medicine, Native American medicine, Traditional healing, Traditional and Spiritual interpretation (Struthers, Eschiti, & Patchell, 2004), Spiritualist, Herbalists, and Diagnosis Specialist (Robbins & Dewar, 2011). Other terms used were medicine men or women, bad or good medicine and medicine bag or bundle (Struthers, Eschiti, & Patchell, 2004). When I worked as a First Nation Liaison Worker (FNLW) I carried a medicine bundle given to me by traditional healers to protect and support me in my work with our people in the hospital and continuing care facilities. Our traditional healing practices and methods have been handed down orally through storytelling (Struthers & Eschiti, 2005). By listening to the healing stories of our Ancestors the listener discovers their true self. The listener takes on the responsibility of relating and applying these teachings to their personal lives so they can thrive by living a healthy lifestyle (Struthers & Eschiti, 2005). The hands-on experience with traditional healers and their methods is a culturally driven way of learning about traditional healing on a very personal level (Robbins & Dewar, 2011). Traditional healing practices are unique for each tribe (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). I remember speaking to traditional healers who said that to become a traditional healer you had to have a sign, message or natural talent and that it was your responsibility and role in this life. There was an emphasis on the need to spend a lot of time with an experienced healer to become a qualified traditional healer. 10 Struthers & Eschiti (2005) give some explicit examples of our healers who worked with our people to cure them of diseases such as cancer as well as traumatic events in their lives. The ceremonies the healers used were: the Sundance, Yuwipi, Ojibwe Healing Ceremony, Shaking Tent Ceremony and Shakerism. One example is an account by a 58-year-old man who spoke of the trauma he experienced when his wife was raped, and how this subsequently ended their marriage. The man describes how his ex-wife was able to get the help she needed to heal, but he did not know what to do with his trauma. He went to a traditional healer who helped him by using the Shakerism ceremony, the process of putting your hands on a person and praying. The healer elicited the help of other people to also put their hands on him and pray for him as the healer worked to help the man with his trauma. The outcome was that the man was able to deal with and work on his healing and he went on to help others with their healing, a process he describes as working with the energy he received from the healer that he was able to pass on to others (Struthers & Eschiti, 2005). The power of Indigenous medicines within our culture point to the value that traditional healing practices have for helping our people. When I worked in the hospital as an FNLW, I remember using ashes a healer made from a sacred fire to help our people in the hospital. The patient was in her dying time and was having trouble sleeping at night because many spirits were coming to her and they were upsetting and scaring her. My co-worker and I got the ashes to place in her room, and we walked around her room saying a prayer to Creator asking for the spirits to let our patient rest. The patient reported back the next morning that she had a good night sleep and nothing bothered her. A similar incident happened with our sister when she was a child and was waking up with bad nightmares of something coming to her in her sleep. Our great grandma went to the fire pit and put ashes around the tent. Our sister was able to sleep 11 comfortably after that. Clearly, the power of our traditional medicines speaks volumes as legitimate and effective ways to help our people heal. Struthers, Eschiti & Patchell (2004) point out that there is very little written or recorded information about the practice of our healing methods. They speculate that part of the reason maybe fear of ridicule, the risk of misuse, is taught orally, seen as sacred, and healing is a private or personal matter. Our recent past shows that traditional healing has not fit well or been accepted as a legitimate practice by medical science’s narrow views, especially regarding our rituals and ceremonial practices (Struthers, Eschiti & Patchell, 2004). Indigenous medicine is kept confidential because some medicines are highly regarded for specific purposes (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). In the United States and Canada, the practice of Indigenous medicines by our people was banned or out-lawed by settlers that came to our lands (Robbins & Dewar, 2011; Struthers & Eschiti, 2005). In Canada, the Indian Act banned ceremonies and potlatches between 1884 to 1951 as a part of the assimilation process along with the development of the residential schools (Robbins & Dewar, 2011). Traditional healing has a long history of being investigated by religious historians and anthropologists (Struthers & Eschiti, 2005). Our practices were seen as witchcraft and unholy by Western religions (Struthers & Eschiti, 2005; McCabe, 2008) even though our herbs and plants were also used in Western medicine, such as quinine for the treatment of malaria (McCabe, 2008). Healers who continued to practice were put in prison, so practices went underground, and were done in secret (Robbins & Dewar, 2011; Struthers & Eschiti, 2005). Today, laws have been amended, and our healers are more open to sharing their healing knowledge with outsiders as contributors to modern medicine (Robbins & Dewar, 2011; 12 Struthers & Eschiti, 2005). Robbins & Dewar (2011) see the need for traditional healing practices to support and heal our people from the effects of colonization and residential school. This literature validates the need to include traditional healing to support our people. Indigenous medicines are important and a distinct approach to health and well-being, and they should not be appropriated by mainstream health and social organizations (Robbins & Dewar, 2011). 13 Chapter 2: The Colonized to the Decolonized (Literature Review) What Needs to Change? As a second-generation survivor (all my family went to residential school except me) of the residential school experience, I have worked with many of our people in the health and social field and found there was a lack of inclusion of our healing practices in the counselling domain. There is a need within mainstream counselling psychology to include cultural competency and/or safety (Gone, 2011). Cultural competency is the capacity to interact effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds such as with our people. Different worldviews will affect the way a therapist counsels a client from a different culture (McCormick, 2009), especially since most counselling theories/practices stem from a very scientific Western model of healing (McCabe, 2008). There is a need for the recognition and collaboration of our traditional healing practices within the dominant culture in the field of counselling psychology (McCormick, 2009). What should our traditional healing practices look like for residential school survivors of trauma? According to Gone (2013), the counselling practices used with our people often fail because there is no inclusion of traditional and cultural beliefs in therapy. Finding recent and relevant literary resources for this topic has been limited as my review revealed there is a lack of research in the area of residential school survivors and the counselling resources needed to support them. The purpose of this literature review was to see the gaps in research and explore how additional research was needed to further show that our healing practices can work in collaboration with mainstream counselling psychology. There is virtually no literature to indicate that any academic research has ever been done on this subject in the Yukon. The themes within my literary search indicated that our traditional healing practices are needed within counseling psychology if 14 therapists were to be more effective in supporting our people to recover from the trauma of colonization – specifically the residential school experience. This study will address the problem through an in-depth exploration of how our residential school survivors define healing. Did our people use traditional healing practices, access Western counselling methods, use a combination of both or were there other circumstances that supported our residential schools survivors on their healing path? The Colonized - The History of the First Peoples Prior to European contact, our people had political, cultural, social, and economic systems that evolved around a very holistic approach to living their lives (Poonwassie & Charter, 2005). Quinn (2007) agrees that our people had the capacity and collective nature to determine our own path in regards to our culture. We had control over our own religious, familial, and educational traditions. When European settlers arrived in our territories they believed Indigenous people were inferior and required assimilation into Western and Christian ways of living. This also gave the settlers access to undermine and steal our land and resources (Thomas & Bellefeuille, 2006). Years of colonization and assimilation resulted in the genocide of many of our people (Quinn, 2007). Part of the assimilation process was the development of residential schools by the dominant cultures’ theology and government to “kill the Indian and save the man” (Gone, 2013, p. 683). Our children who went to these schools were subjected to sexual, physical, psychological, and spiritual abuse (Quinn, 2007). As a result of the residential school experience and ongoing colonization some of our people developed various social issues such as substance abuse, family violence, suicidal behavior, and mental health problems. The intergenerational 15 impacts from the residential school experience continue to affect the generations that came after the first generation who went to these schools (Quinn, 2007). Many of the social issues that continue to plague our people are a result of the ongoing processes of colonization and the outcome of this historical trauma (Quinn, 2007). In 2007, Quinn describes the effects of the residential school experience as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research indicates that while trauma and traumatic experiences can affect any population, for our people the multigenerational effects of trauma are greater because the population was affected on such a large scale with continued traumatic exposure (Elias, Mignonette, Hall, Hong, Hart & Sareen, 2012). Some of the trauma effects include depression, psychic numbing, hyper-vigilance, fixation to trauma, somatic symptoms, survivor guilt, triggers, flashbacks, flooding, lateral violence, inability to assess risk, and re-victimization by people in authority (Quinn, 2007). Our people have higher rates of suicide, violence, substance abuse, and incarceration than the national average (Government of Canada, 2015; National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, 2013). The overall health of our people indicates we have poorer health than most Canadians (NCCAH, 2013) and we have poorer living conditions (Government of Canada, 2015). Our people make up about 4.3 percent of the population, yet we are over-represented in the prison system at 24.4 percent, based on the entire prison population (Government of Canada, 2015). This is due to systemic discrimination, racism and cultural prejudices. Due to the intergenerational trauma, loss, and violence caused by colonization, we have economic and social disadvantages (Government of Canada, 2015). 16 Residential Schools and Yukon Indigenous People In the Yukon, our peoples’ experiences were similar yet unique compared to the rest of Canada’s Indigenous population. In 1876, the Northwest Territories included Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Nunavut (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012). For our people in the north, the assimilation policies of the Canadian government were not required because there was no demand for our lands. Due to the high cost of developing and maintaining a treaty with our peoples, the government decided that our people in the north could continue with our way of life by living off the land, trapping, and trading (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012). The schools in the Yukon can best be described in two phases, first the missionary school phase, then the residential school periods (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012). In 1891 Bishop Bompas developed the first missionary school, called the Forty Mile Mission. The missionary schools lasted until the mid-1950’s, when the federal government took over and developed residential schools for our children. In 1911, Choutla School was opened in Carcross, Yukon and many of our children from around the territory were taken from their homes to attend (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012). A prominent respected Tlingit Elder, the late Angela Sidney, spoke of how she would be punished if she spoke her Tlingit language, or spoke to her brother (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012). Choutla School developed a reputation for having harsh punishments, poor health, child labor, and malnutrition (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012). I have heard many stories of not being able to speak our languages or to our siblings while at these schools. Our sister could not speak to our brother who stood across from her in 17 lineups at this school. I remember our late father saying when he went to Choutla he was required to spend half a day in school learning and the other half outside cutting wood to keep the school warm during the winter months. Our father noted that many of the non-Aboriginal students who also attended this school did not have to do any manual labor and received a full day’s education. He said some students would set rabbit snares around the school to get extra food because of the poor quality or lack of food at Choutla. There is consensus within the literature suggesting that residential schools were a catalyst for the breakdown of our families, resulting in alienation, and loss of our cultural beliefs and identity, family and community cohesion, and spiritual connections (Gone, 2011; Heilbron & Guttman, 2000; McCabe, 2007; Quinn, 2007; Thomas & Bellefeuille, 2006). My critical response to this consensus is I would fully agree with the research findings of all these scholars. I have seen first-hand the effects residential school has on our culture and I have experienced the effects of the residential school experience as a second-generation survivor. The undertones of oppression (colonization continues) Many of our people will not access or embrace mainstream counselling resources to help deal with the social issues they suffer because there is a lack of cultural competency and spiritual connection (Heilbron & Guttman, 2000; McCormick, 1996; Thomas & Bellefeuille, 2006; Twigg & Hengen, 2009). Mainstream counselling practices tend to focus on individuation, self-actualization, self-expression, and independence (McCormick, 2009). Western thought processes influence the idea of individualism and autonomy regarding wellness, and they overshadow the wellness of our tribal or kin relationships (Cavalieri, 2013). Individual wellness is important, but for AIAN people, their well-being is also connected to their communities because of a shared 18 past and future. Colonial influences and Western thought processes in mainstream counselling set a standard by which all people are compared (Cavalieri, 2013). As the worldview and perspectives of our people are very holistic, they tend not to access mainstream counselling, and when they do there are high drop-out rates. Separating people from their families and communities through Western counselling methods does not fit with the worldview of our people (Stewart, 2008; Twigg & Hengen, 2009). McCormick (1996) concurs with these findings by noting that approximately half of our people who do access the mental health system drop out after attending only one session. Our people who seek counselling from mainstream counselling practices have turned to traditional healing practices to wipe out the effects of mainstream treatment they received (McCabe, 2007). So, what are some of the theories within mainstream counselling that may not fit well for our people who seek counselling within Western practices? The Cognitive Behavior Family Therapy (CBFT) approach is a very directive, teaching and coaching approach to family counselling where the therapist is the expert (Gehart, 2014). CBFT stems from the idea of reward and punishment (Gehart, 2014), something that parallels the same stance in the residential schools most of our people attended. Residential school survivors were punished and rewarded for behaviours considered good or bad by the gatekeepers of these schools. Clearly, CBFT will not work with our people who seek out counselling from Western practices to deal with the trauma of attending residential schools. This approach is not compatible with Indigenous philosophies and knowledge systems that inform their respective healing approaches (McCabe, 2008; Hart 2007). Our knowledge and philosophies are based on the mind, emotions, and body, which are a part of the Medicine Wheel (McCabe, 2008). 19 The Medicine Wheel is in the shape of a circle with four quadrants that include the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental. The four quadrants make up the foundation for human beings and how we live our life (McCabe, 2008). Everything around us exists and is based on the principle of survival (Hart, 2007). Our survival is a part of this natural energy and the earth’s cycles and is designed to ensure balance and harmony in the overall well-being of our lives. Everything that exists has roles and responsibilities in this life. Spirits link all things together (all our relations), and all human beings are a part of Creation. In essence, we are in relation to each other and all things are connected. Creation is a reflection of different elements that rely on spiritual and psychological strength from life-giving and nourishing forces. Our people live in harmony with nature, and we pray to the Creator or Great Spirit for our guidance, support, and connection (Hart, 2007). The Western scientific model finds our philosophy and knowledge base objectionable and is uncomfortable with our worldview (McCabe, 2008). The Western scientific model only accepts concrete evidence-based ways of knowing. Most Indigenous cultures have for thousands of years followed and believed in the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical as the foundation for all human beings. Narrative and experiential dialogue support our four directions. For Western science to accept or support this way of knowing and being is seen as repugnant. Western cultures refuse to acknowledge our unique ways of knowing, and the value we place on entities around us (McCabe, 2008). The underlying philosophy of CBFT comes from B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning which uses reward and punishment to correct behaviour. This approach is rooted in experiential psychology derived from a Western scientific model of therapy (Gehart, 2014). As this theory is grounded in a scientific approach, it does not take into consideration spiritual aspects that many 20 of our people see as important components of healing. CBFT comes from a hierarchical perspective and is not suitable with the philosophical stance of our people who believe in a holistic healing approach. I can see how this authoritative approach to counselling could be reflective of colonization and it may do more harm than good for our people. Treatment with CBFT involves assessment and developing a written contract with the client (Gehart, 2014). I question an assessment created in the dominant culture that would be used with our people and whether this standardized assessment took cultural differences into consideration. Many Western counselling theories and assessments come from a Euro-centric perspective that is mainly applicable to their population, and due to standardization does not consider cultural differences. Attributable to the pervasive violations of trust among settler-Indigenous relationships, counsellors’ risk perpetuating mistrust by ignoring the poor reputation of “contracts” associated with the legacy of broken treaties and disrespected Aboriginal rights and title. Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) emphasizes the future with minimal discussion about the presenting problem or past concerns (Gehart, 2014). This therapeutic approach looks for solutions and then takes steps to achieve them (Gehart, 2014). For residential school survivors, this approach is directive and does not allow the client to tell his/her story that connects the past, the present, the future and dismisses belief in interconnectedness for our people. Archibald (2008) speaks of the power to heal and sooth when our people can tell their stories. Stories have a synergistic aspect that connects the storyteller and the listener (Archibald, 2008). Some stories can be told and the listener will glean what they want from the story and how it relates to their personal life experiences. Stories can open the door to our emotions, our 21 feelings, and can create a powerful experience. When a story is told there can be personal lessons on proper social behaviour that connects the listener to their own life experiences. Archibald (2008) describes this process like an arrow that goes deep inside you and immediately starts to work on your mind to think about how you are living your life. I think this theory of the synergistic aspects of storytelling relates to the client-counsellor relationship and by working together, we can get more done because we are not alone in the process. I wonder does the sharing of stories between counsellor and client also help to heal both. Is this not also therapy from a traditional perspective? When I read the story “The Creator and the Flea” (Archibald, 2008, p. 116), I found the story had an emotional and insightful effect on me because I could relate to it. I was able to see parallels in my life and I wonder if I shared with my clients if they would also make a personal connection that might be healing to them. Client’s emotions are signs about what works or does not work and where a client wants to go (Gehart, 2014). For residential school survivors, emotional displays in the counselling session may be limited and the therapist would get little information of where the client wants to go. Residential school survivors did not show emotions as a way to remain safe in the schools because the display of emotions most times resulted in punishment. Residential school survivors have suffered significant trauma from the residential school experience, and this trauma continues to be passed on inter-generationally (Yellow Horse Brave Heart, Chase, Elkins, & Altschul, 2011). Ongoing discrimination, racism, and oppression of our people compound the trauma. Unresolved historical grief from the many losses our people have experienced have had a devastating effect. Residential school survivors developed emotional distress from thinking about the trauma they experienced and this created increased anger and depression. Our people had ways of grieving that were interrupted by the residential schools and the Western laws that 22 dictated how we could bury our people. The ceremonies and practices we followed were prevented so we were unable to grieve the losses in a way that was therapeutic for our people (Yellow Horse Brave Heart, et al., 2011). Yellow Horse Brave Heart et al., (2011) speak of the one-year grieving process that our people would have when there was a loss in the community. For our Tlingit and Northern Tutchone culture, we also grieved for one year from the day the person passed. At that time, we would have a second ceremony called the headstone potlatch where we would place a headstone on the person’s grave and celebrate their life. After the potlach, our grieving would be done. The option to grieve longer was also allowed and respected, so a headstone potlatch may not happen at the one year mark of the death. SFBT believes that most counselling can be completed within one to ten sessions. However, it does acknowledge if there are issues around sexual or substance abuse, treatment could take years (Gehart, 2014). Our people have a complex past and treatment can take years because of the trauma and abuses experienced in residential school. Therefore, using an approach that does not delve too deeply into discussing the problem or the past would not be conducive to healing. SFBT does not take into consideration the balance in the four directions by including physical and spiritual aspects, but it does appear to address emotional and mental issues. I wonder just how SFBT defines this compared to our beliefs. SFBT is a therapy approach that seems to only touch on the surface of issues by not deeply exploring the underlying reasons for the problems and concerns. Residential school survivors can have circumstances that are rooted in adverse childhood experiences and trauma, and therefore require therapeutic approaches that respect this reality. 23 Walking Together on the Healing Path (de-colonizing) McCormick (2009) indicates that working in collaboration, rather than an integrative approach, is likely a better solution to helping and supporting our people on their healing path. McCormick (2009) warns against the integration of traditional healing and Western counselling practices because integration risks the potential for assimilation. This may not be the best or easiest solution because of the power differential between Western medicine and traditional healing. Western counselling may overpower traditional healing practices as Western counselling has the backing of the government, law, and medical organizations (McCormick, 2009). An example of the medical model of wellness in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) clearly privileges a Western view of distress that does not fit with the AIAN view of distress (Cavalieri, 2013). Indigenous cosmologies or worldviews that include spirituality are a big part of AIAN peoples’ beliefs around wellness and healing. There is no dualistic distinction made between animate, inanimate, human or non-human in our cosmology; all are connected and all make up a healthy holistic worldview (Cavalieri, 2013). I wonder how the DSM would assess our people who have dreams about their Ancestors that give them guidance on how to live their lives and that dreams having meaning to us. McCormick (2009) suggests it is better to collaborate or work side by side in a complementary relationship with both practices. Cavalieri (2013) describes this collaboration as harmonizing where some parts of Western theory could work with traditional practices instead of being competitive. Because of the different worldviews of both approaches, it would be important to understand these differences to have an effective collaborative relationship 24 (McCormick, 2009). For our people to begin their healing there must be balance, self-transcendence, autonomy with their healing, and connectedness (McCormick, 2009). Baskin (2011) agrees with McCormick on the idea of being cautious regarding our knowledge, such as traditional healing practices, being integrated into Western counselling and the fear of appropriation or misappropriation. When our spirituality is viewed as exotic, there is a risk of appropriation, especially when non-Aboriginal people conduct our sacred ceremonies. The substantiation of our knowledge, beliefs, and sacred practices should not result in losing ownership or control. Baskin (2011) points out there have been instances where non-Aboriginal people who have attended ceremonies or rituals take these practices to use as their own, inappropriately and without permission. How do faculty, practitioners, and students in the helping field engage in ways of helping from an Aboriginal perspective? Baskin (2011) suggests professionals can help by focusing on worldviews and not on the culture or spiritual practices of our people. Worldviews are based on environment, land, challenges, community, causes of problems, and possible solutions which can be seen as universal to any culture. For non-Aboriginal helpers to use cultural or spiritual practices in their therapy, they need to be immersed into the culture by living and working where cultural and spiritual teaching is done (Baskin, 2011). Baskin (2011) indicates that all people have spiritual, physical, emotional, and psychological needs, but each cultural group is unique in how they maintain the healing process or balance. For Aboriginal helpers, the onus is on us to protect the rituals and spiritual and ceremonial practices of our Ancestors and share our worldview with the larger society in our therapy work. The challenge of working in collaboration is that Western counselling practices are linear and our healing practices are holistic in their approaches (Baskin, 2011). 25 Our approaches to healing cannot be broken down into different topics like in the Western counselling perspective because in our worldview everything is connected (Baskin, 2011). For example, spirituality, values and holistic approaches are all part of the epistemology that our people teach, learn and practice (Baskin, 2011). Cavalieri (2013) concurs by pointing out that most traditional medicine people will not share their healing practices and spiritual beliefs with the outside world because it may be viewed as unusual or strange. Some of our healers indicate that they do not openly share discussions around spirituality. There are multiple reasons for the silence and some could be related to fear of appropriation. This may be one area of Indigenous life that has not been colonized, and therefore, our people want to protect it. Also, our people may not speak of or share our cultural beliefs around spirituality because it has been looked down on and devalued in the past and present (Cavalieri, 2013). Duran & Duran (1995) believe it is possible for Western counselling practices to work with traditional healing practices through integration. If so, it may be conceivable to find a therapeutic practice that fits well for the healing of our people from the residential school trauma. Just as Sitting Bull kept an open mind about his encounters with white settlers, he encouraged his people to take from the white settlers what is good and make a good life for our children (Duran & Duran, 1995). Although the idea of collaboration or integration is an option to support our people better on their healing path, some scholars believe our people need to use only traditional healing practices. Ross (2014) worries about the potential for what he calls “Pan-Indianism” (p. 265), where integration could lead to a generalized view of our people, cultures, and healing methods. Elders do not see integration as an idea that comes from our communities, and it is not part of local efforts for cultural restoration (Ross, 2014). McCormick (2009) points out that some clients 26 may choose traditional healing practices, mainstream counselling, or use a combination of both approaches in their healing. Ross (2014) concurs with McCormick by saying not all of our people follow or believe in our healing practices. Some people may have a combination of beliefs that come from traditional and modern perspectives on healing. Regardless of the origins of the practice, they will gravitate towards what makes them feel better. Other people will take on anything that is remotely similar to our healing approaches to help them feel better. The point Ross (2014) makes is that some of our people will want only to use traditional healing, others may use a combination of various practices from different cultures, and there will be societal and cultural pressure in choosing. There can be no single way to the success in the healing of our people (Ross, 2014). McCabe (2007) sees traditional healing practices as the best option in the treatment of our people because it reinforces feelings of self-worth. He believes our community has the necessary and appropriate means to healing ourselves by our strengths and knowledge instead of relying on outside practices that have been ineffective for most of our people. Mainstream treatment methods lack congruence with our healing practices (McCabe, 2007). McCabe (2007) indicates there are commonalities between Western counselling and traditional healing practices such as acceptance, genuineness, empathy, challenging client’s beliefs and decisions, accessing the subconscious, and role modelling. However, in Western counselling practices these commonalities come from different theories and concepts whereas our practices are interconnected and we use all these methods. The main difference between Western and Indigenous healing approaches is that our healing practices follow a deeply mystical and spiritual experience that guides and influences our people from the Spirit World. An Aboriginal 27 psychotherapy technique developed from within our community may be the only way to create applicable and relevant mental health services for our people (McCabe, 2007). Cavalieri (2013) believes psychotherapy needs to be situated with our people and based on a sovereign paradigm. Inherent sovereignty as defined by Cavalieri (2013) says “the most basic principle of all Indian law and means simply that the powers lawfully vested in an Indian tribe are those powers that predate New World discovery and have never been extinguished” (p. 26). This means that other nations will recognize that a particular tribe or society is bound by their common customs and language. Cavalieri (2013) broadens the idea of sovereignty to extend beyond the political and legal realm into the area of psychotherapy and the rights of our people to have a say in how we receive counselling. The ability of psychotherapy practices to work in collaboration with our societies to decide how we will be counselled would be a meaningful step forward for our people (Cavalieri, 2013). AIAN populations seek psychotherapy about as often as the average White American, but usually, they do not have their needs adequately met (Cavalieri, 2013). Numerous scholars realize that part of the problem is that psychotherapy uses an indirect colonial approach. To acknowledge and recognize in any mental health work, our people need the resources and power to decide how their nations should proceed with their mental well-being, including developing their own research, theories, and psychotherapeutic model’s specific to their tribes. If Aboriginal sovereignty is stifled, then Western thinking will hold all the power and will continue to colonize our people just as Western researchers have by-passed our inherent right to question the researcher’s endeavour to collect data about our culture (Cavalieri, 2013). The literature I reviewed on working with traditional healing and Western counseling practices agrees with the emphasis on collaboration rather than integration of traditional healing 28 practices (Gone, 2011; McCabe, 2008; McCormick, 1997b; Stewart, 2008; Twigg & Hengen, 2009). From the perspective of this researcher, even the word “integration” carries with it the connotation of a history where this word did more damage than good for our people. I am in agreement with the scholars regarding the need for collaboration rather than integration of traditional healing practices into mainstream counselling psychology. I believe what McCormick (2009) says about the process of collaboration and not integration. I can see that integrating traditional healing practices into mainstream counselling psychology could mean they would be overshadowed by the dominant cultures’ worldview and be lost or misinterpreted within counselling psychology. All Our Relations - Interconnectedness The literature generally agrees that the use of traditional healing approaches within counselling is critical for our people. Our peoples’ worldview about healing includes the need for interconnectedness by being connected not only to your nuclear family but your extended family and the entire community (Gone, 2013; McCabe, 2008; McCormick, 2005; McCormick, 2009; Stewart, 2008). This interconnectedness also extends to beliefs in the medicine wheel, which includes balance in the four directions and encompasses spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental aspects of healing (Gone, 2013; McCabe, 2008; McCormick, 2005; Twigg & Hengen, 2009). So what theories might work well for residential schools survivors from the family therapeutic perspective? The following two studies indicate how focus and cognitive therapy are used in collaboration with traditional healing practices in family therapy. Thomas and Bellefeuille (2006) discuss how the use of focusing therapy and the traditional healing circle can complement each other. This empirical research looked at focusing therapy within the healing circle with a 29 group of First Nation people. This study includes six volunteers four male and two female between 25 to 65 years old, and all from Winnipeg Manitoba (Thomas & Bellefeuille, 2006). Most of the volunteers attended residential school. Their feedback about the healing circle with focusing therapy indicated this approach was beneficial to developing their spirituality (Thomas & Bellefeuille, 2006). Heilbron and Guttman (2000) conducted an empirical study using cognitive therapy within a women’s healing circle. The research took place on a reservation [actual location not given] and included three Ojibway and two non-First Nation women ranging in age between their mid-thirties to mid-forties. The results indicated that most of the women found this collaboration helpful in their healing journey because of the holistic approach (Heilbron & Guttman, 2000). Both of these studies indicate that inclusion of healing practices is vital to the proper support and healing for our people who seek counselling. The literature suggests that further empirical research is needed in this area. I believe the literature is saying mainstream counselling psychology must acknowledge, understand, and accept traditional healing practices. Tafoya (1990) suggests our people theorize relationships with the core elements of family therapy including relationships, learning, teaching, and responsibility. One theory in family therapy that appears to complement our perspectives on healing is Michael White’s Narrative therapy (Gehart, 2014). Narrative therapy takes a democratic stance that allows space for people to tell their story (Gehart, 2014). This approach is similar to the oral tradition of our people. Our people have been telling their story and history for generations as a way to hold and pass on our experiences, knowledge, and teachings. Narrative therapy separates the person from their problem and sees problems as influenced by the dominant discourses in our lives. It looks to generate alternative and local 30 discourses (Gehart, 2014). Based on my experience in counselling our people, many see their problems as inherently a part of who they are and not separate from the self. Dominant discourses speak to the effects of colonization on our people and how it impacts the balance in the four directions (physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental). Local and alternative discourses speak to what works for you (Gehart, 2014) and for our people this is our cultural, spiritual beliefs, and worldview. Gehart (2014) talks of how narrative therapy solidifies new discourses by having them witnessed. In our culture, witnessing was very important in a number of ceremonies around rites of passage by bearing witness to a significant life transition. Narrative therapy also works well with our people because this approach considers cultural norms and beliefs of marginalized groups (Gehart, 2014). Narrative therapy concepts are adaptable and allow for the collaboration of our beliefs and practices. This approach recognizes the importance of including traditional healers, tribal Elders, and leaders in the therapeutic process (Gehart, 2014). This recognition speaks to the respect for our beliefs and gives awareness to our worldview in traditional healing practices. Lee (1997) warns against using a lot of psychological and technical terms or over-wordiness as this can lead to issues of “lost in translation” for our people. A narrative approach, asks the client to use metaphors to tell his/her story. This process helps the therapist better understand the client’s current issues (Lee, 1997). Bowen’s intergenerational therapy is another theory that could work in collaboration with traditional healing practices. This broad perspective approach looks at the evolution of human beings and the characteristics of all living things (Gehart, 2014). For our people, we have always seen ourselves as a part of the land, water, cosmos, and animals. We are all interconnected; just as the evolution of all living things have commonalities. Intergenerational therapy looks at the 31 key concept of differentiation, emotional, and relational systems using a genogram of three generations of a family (Gehart, 2014). Intergenerational therapy is based on the three generations within a family and focuses on the emotional processes (Gehart, 2014). Many of our people are dealing with the effects of colonization and this concept correlates well with residential school survivors who have experienced intergenerational trauma. Bowen’s intergenerational therapy speaks to intergenerational effects in the therapy process and fits well for our people in dealing with residential school trauma. Intergenerational therapy considers multi-generational patterns within families, such as depression, anger, conflict, substance abuse, parent-child, and couple relationships (Gehart, 2014). Because of the residential school experience and the breakdown of our social and cultural systems, our people are dealing with these multi-generational patterns. The use of genograms with a family is a powerful tool, especially in teaching about the trauma residential school survivors experienced. Passing this information to the next generation will help them understand what happened to their grand/parents in these schools. Many residential school survivors refuse to speak of that time in their life with their children because of emotional reasons, such as shame and humiliation about the abuse they experienced (Morrissette, 1994). Using the genogram may help families deal with past experiences of abuse in a healthier way and bring them closer together. Gehart (2014) cautions using this therapy approach with other cultures and points out that cultural norms set out in this theory may not fit with families from different cultures. For example, attachment theories and what is considered “normal” might be different in other cultures (Gehart, 2014). Other considerations when using the genogram with our people is the taboo around discussing the death of family members. Our people may not want to speak about 32 family members who passed on (Limb & Hodge, 2011). For example, our mother never spoke of our late brother by name, but when speaking about him, she would say “the son I loss”. One important consideration that Lee (1997) makes is the family system structure therapy model tends to see enmeshment as abnormal and encourages the separation of family members as healthy. This concept clearly goes against the interconnectedness our people see as important in healthy family and community relations (Lee, 1997). When looking at the differences between traditional healing and Western counselling practices, there are more differences than commonalities. They are mainly due to hierarchical and linear approaches in Western methods compared to our holistic perspective. Lee (1997) points out that communication style plays a major role in how our people present themselves in therapy and this can be very different from the norms set out in Western perspectives. Direct eye contact in therapy is assessed by the therapist as the client paying attention, understanding, and being engaged (Lee, 1997). For our people, too much eye contact can be seen as disrespectful depending on whom you are speaking to (Lee, 1997). If your client is an Elder less eye contact is respectful. Appropriate eye contact is also dependent on the gender of your client or if your client is a child. As counsellors, we are taught to use a SOLAR (sit squarely, open posture, lean towards client, eye contact, and relax) approach when counselling clients but for our people sitting side by side with minimal or no eye contact might be more appropriate (Lee, 1997). The oral patterns of our people also differ from the norm in family therapy as many of our people do not have a problem with silence and do not feel a need to fill in the silence with talk. For example, in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) family therapists ask a lot of questions. Long pauses in conversation ranging anywhere from three to four seconds or longer are the norm for many of our people (Lee, 1997). When I worked in a hospital as a FNLW worker, I watched 33 a conversation between an elderly patient and a nurse. The nurse felt the need to fill in the conversation when there was a pause and assumed that the patient had finished her story when she had not. The patient’s expression was obvious to me, but not to the nurse. The patient eventually shut down and stopped talking to the nurse, feeling the nurse was not listening to her anyways. Again, due to the traumatic effects of attending residential school many residential school survivors do not show a lot of emotional expressions because they were punished for showing emotions (Lee, 1997). Another important factor in communications for our people is spirituality. It is rude to suddenly bring up discussions around spirituality (Lee, 1997). It is important to develop rapport with your client(s) before discussing issues around spirituality. Because our people have a holistic perspective in all areas of their life, everything is considered in relation to self (Lee, 1997). When this writer says a prayer to Creator, the prayer is always ended with saying “all my relations” which acknowledges the land, animals, cosmos, people, and the Ancestors from the past, present, and future. An important point related directly to family therapy is how our people communicate and see our relationship with our family members. Most of us are protective of our family (Lee, 1997). When a family member does something wrong, it can be seen as a source of guilt and shame. Family members see it as disrespectful and shameful to talk in a negative way about a family member, and many will downplay or minimize the behavior. Problems within families are discussed with the therapist in a very indirect way by working up to the issue or problem at hand (Lee, 1997). For our people, speaking with a non-Aboriginal therapist brings up issues around trust (Lee, 1997). Clients will not speak directly about a problem but approach the issue slowly over 34 time due to a lack of trust and a desire to test the therapist. Clients want to respect the counsellor’s ability and see what the counsellor can figure out based on what the client is indirectly saying (Lee, 1997). Morrissette (1994) speaks of trust by saying “The process of a Native client initiating the healing relationship with a non-Native helper is, in itself, an enormous statement. The ability of the client to trust a helper from a culture who represents a painful past is extraordinary” (p 391). Conclusion In conclusion, it is clear that Western counselling and traditional healing practices come from different worldviews. Because Western counselling practices take a linear, hierarchical approach to healing, and traditional healing practices are grounded in a holistic approach, it makes for a very complex perspective when considering integration or collaboration. Some Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars believe that traditional healing practices should remain separate from mainstream counselling practices, and others believe collaboration or integration is possible. Our people have a long history of intergenerational effects from residential schools that have left many of our people dealing with social issues. Mainstream counselling practices have, for the most part, failed to support our people on a healing path and many of our people have turned to traditional healing practices for support. I feel it is important always to consider working in collaboration with Western counselling practices, but to also keep in mind what will benefit our people first and foremost. It is a complex issue, and there are no easy answers or quick fixes in the healing of our people. Traditional healing practices were around before colonization, and they continue to exist after colonization. For most of our people, the impacts of colonization represent a significant part of their healing journey. 35 The literature reviewed indicates that a holistic traditional healing approach in collaboration with Western counselling perspectives works better for most of our people (Gone, 2013; McCabe, 2008; McCormick, 2009; Stewart, 2008; Twigg & Hengen, 2009). There is a consensus amongst the authors reviewed that further research is required (Thomas & Bellefeuille, 2006), specifically empirical research around traditional healing practices working in collaboration with counseling psychology (McCormick 2009; Stewart, 2008). The need for more research also solicits exploration into different geographical locations because our people’s beliefs may vary within regions or tribes (McCabe, 2007). In addition, further research should examine what non-First Nation counsellors need to be aware of when working with our people (Heilbron & Guttman, 2000; McCormick, 2009). McCormick (2009) suggests additional research is needed to explore the differences between the two practices and how collaboration can best be utilized with our population. 36 Chapter 3: Indigenous Ways of Knowing (Method) Holistic Philosophy of Knowledge When undertaking research, we must ask ourselves some questions about our beliefs around how we will conduct our inquiry. We need to ask ourselves, what is our knowledge system when we think about the philosophical assumptions regarding our research paradigm, ontology, epistemology, axiology, and methodology? I needed to base that on sound facts from the various knowledge philosophies I could use. What I learned and what I knew within myself was that what was needed to meet these philosophical assumptions was an Indigenous methodology. I compared Western research paradigms and approaches with Indigenous paradigms and found it difficult to see the research within either qualitative or quantitative methodology. As Kovach (2009) indicates, an Indigenous methodology is based on Indigenous epistemology and tribal knowledge, and therefore it is not Western knowledge. To me, this suggests paradigms about ways of doing research come from different knowledge systems. Kovach (2010) discusses Indigenous knowledge as shown through our oral history by storytelling, remembering, talk story, re-storying, and yarning. Archibald (2008) speaks of the importance of stories in our culture as a way to understand and gain insight into our lived experiences, and then to analytically reflect on these experiences. We need to know where we come from and what has influenced us so we can better understand who we are (Archibald, 2008). Richard Wagamese (2011) best describes the meaning of story for our people: “We are all story. That’s what my people say. From the moment we enter this physical reality to the moment we depart again as spirit, we are energy moving forward to the fullest possible expression of ourselves. All the intrepid spirits who come to this reality make the same journey. In this we are joined. We are one. We 37 are, in the end, one story, one song, one spirit, one soul. This is what my people say” (p. 2). Indigenous methodologies convey different meanings about how research is processed (Louis, 2007). Indigenous research is fluid and dynamic, with a focus on a cyclical and circular perspective. Indigenous methodologies reflect our perspective and are respectful, sympathetic, and ethical. There are four principles to this methodology: 1) relational accountability, which means respect for all our relations, 2) respectful representation, which means in a non-Eurocentric way, 3) reciprocal appropriation, which means the research should benefit not just the researcher but also our people in the study, and 4) rights and regulations, which means following our protocols, specific goals, and outcomes (Louis, 2007). Respect, reverence, reciprocity, responsibility, interconnectedness, synergy, and holism are integral to using an Indigenous methodology (Archibald, 2008; Kirkness & Barnhardt, 1991). Searching for ways of knowing To choose an epistemology for this research, I needed to articulate what paradigm I subscribe to. It required a great deal of soul-searching to fully understand which epistemology fit with me and our tribal beliefs. According to Wilson (2008), the four dominant paradigms in Western research approaches: positivism, post-positivism, constructivism, and critical theory have one thing in common, which is the belief in individual knowledge. This perspective is very different from an Aboriginal paradigm (Wilson, 2008). Our knowledge paradigm rests on the assertion that knowledge belongs to the cosmos and as researchers, we interpret this knowledge (Wilson, 2008). Within our perspective of knowing, all knowledge is shared (Kovach, 2009). Archibald (2008) speaks of storytelling as a form of research acquired by speaking with Elders who carry knowledge about culture, history, and experiences. I believe the most 38 appropriate research paradigm is an Indigenous paradigm that looks at Indigenous perspectives on epistemology, ontology, axiology, and methodology. Indigenous epistemology is an important component of Indigenous methodological research (Louis, 2007). There is no distinct definition of Indigenous methodology since knowledge is not socially constructed based on how it is acquired, selected and stored, and how it is represented and communicated. Societies are distinguished by the strategies they use to comprehend their own places. Louis (2007) defines epistemology as a holistic approach to Indigenous knowledge and a spiritual journey. This spiritual journey comes from within the person and is accessed through ceremony (Louis, 2007). Lavallee (2009) points out there are three ways of accessing our knowledge: empirical observation, traditional teachings, and revelation. Empirical observation is not qualitative inquiry, but it is seen as Indigenous empirical knowledge that represents the uniting of viewpoints from different entry points over time in actual situations and settings. Traditional knowledge or spiritual knowledge is the passing down of teaching through the generations and knowledge acquired through revelations, such as ceremony, dreams and intuition. This knowledge is also called “blood memory”, and it includes our beliefs, actions, and thoughts, which are passed on and carried in the blood of our Ancestors and the Spirit World (Lavallee, 2009, p. 22). As further described by Hovorka (2015), we carry our memories and preserve our Ancestors. Our belief in blood memory is grounded in genetic law. I believe this genetic law is the same as our belief in natural law. Our bloodlines and memories are tied to our genetics, and we carry them from one generation to the next at a cellular level. Just as the salmon know what to do, or baby turtles know how to survive without parents, our people carry our memories and ways of knowing within our bloodlines (Hovorka, 2015). This knowing is not learned in the 39 academic sense but is innate and a natural occurrence for our people. Hovorka (2015) suggests Western science has difficulties with this concept because there is no legitimate scientific proof. She challenges science by indicating it is important to ‘believe to see versus see to believe’ (Hovorka, 2015). Creswell (2013) describes a researcher’s ontology as ‘what is reality and how do we see that reality’. Epistemology is about knowledge, how we acquire it, and what we believe about that knowledge (Creswell, 2013; Glesne, 2016). From an Indigenous perspective, both ontology and epistemology are closely connected and equal to each other, and therefore cannot be discussed as separate units within an Indigenous paradigm (Wilson, 2008). I have always followed a holistic way of viewing the world as my reality. What is real to me exists through all my senses, including my sixth sense. I consider everything I feel from within me, to everything that comes to me externally. All things are living and breathing and have a spirit including animals, trees, plants, rivers, wind, fire; all that is Mother Earth. Reality extends to the cosmos because it is in the Spirit World where all our relations pass on to when they leave Mother Earth. This worldview is best described as a web or network in which all reality is interconnected (Kovach, 2009). I see myself as interrelated to all things on Mother Earth. Knowledge is reciprocal in nature and is something to be shared. Glesne (2016) defines methodology as the way inquiry should proceed when doing research. Western methodology is described as evolving and inductive. The researcher’s experience shapes the data collection and analysis (Creswell, 2013). From an Indigenous perspective, methodology proceeds from a holistic, all-encompassing viewpoint (Kovach, 2009). Archibald (2008) describes holism as an Indigenous philosophical concept that refers to interrelatedness between the spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional spheres to create a 40 whole healthy human being. Holism extends to and is shaped by family, friends, community, tribe, and nation. Many tribes use a circle to represent balance, completeness, wholeness, and wellness (Archibald, 2008). How I acquire and interpret knowledge is based on this holistic perception. Knowledge can come from my dreams, people, animals, stories, rivers, and my Ancestors (past, present and future). When I reflect on my past and how I acquire knowledge, I see an interconnection. From the time I was a small child listening to our father tell us stories by a campfire in our traditional territory, I have gathered knowledge. These stories are of our history, culture, beliefs, and where we come from as human beings. These stories helped us to understand better who we are, what we believe, and how to live our lives. They were the very essence of how we came to know. I have dreams that give me messages and direction on how to live my life in a good, holistic and balanced way. I follow the teachings around the medicine wheel to acquire knowledge in a balanced fashion, always keeping in mind the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental aspects. Archibald (2008) states “ways of acquiring knowledge and codes of behavior are essential and are embedded in cultural practices; one practice that plays a key role in the oral tradition is storytelling” (p. 11). Axiology, or relational accountability, is the values that researchers bring into their work (Creswell, 2013; Wilson, 2008). Value judgements concerning validity, what is right or wrong, statistically relevant, and what is un/worthy are not considered when it comes to axiology for Indigenous knowledge (Wilson, 2008). Importance and meaning are placed on accountability to your relations and developing relationships within research (Wilson, 2008). Kovach (2009) describes our responsibility this way: 41 Research is about collective responsibility: ‘we can only go so far before we see a face – our Elder cleaning fish, our sister living on the edge in East Vancouver…- and hear a voice whispering, “Are you helping us?”’ (p. 36). When our people speak of all our relations we are talking of virtually everything on Mother Earth and in the cosmos past and present (Wilson, 2008). This is an important aspect of our ethical responsibility to ensure that our knowledge and people are not exploited (Kovach, 2009). I have always believed I am accountable to all our relations, those that are still here on Mother Earth and those that have passed on. I believe in respect, reciprocity, and responsibility in everything I do. In deciding to return to academia to pursue an undergraduate and graduate degree, my reasons focused on wanting to support and help our community with the education I received. I supported and helped from a place of respect, responsibility, and reciprocity. As I prepared to do my master’s thesis, I felt I needed to hold on to these values out of respect for all our relations. Indigenizing the Research In setting out on the right path in this research project, I respond to questions about why and how these approaches are best for me in doing this research. The question that comes to mind is: why would I use a Westernized colonial approach to doing research with our people? As Smith (2012) says “the ways in which scientific research is implicated in the worst excesses of colonialism remains a powerful remembered history for many of the world’s colonized peoples” (p. 1). The very word “research” is seen by most Indigenous populations as the dirtiest word in the English language and brings up feelings of distrust and bad memories of the past that are not forgotten (Smith, 2012). Westernized research approaches are more scientific and linear in nature (Kovach, 2009) and they do not consider the cosmos (Wilson, 2008). 42 This research requires me to be responsible in how I interact with our people and culture. With the knowledge I have, it is natural to choose an approach that fits well with the storytellers. To fully understand and convey the research in a holistic, respectful, and reciprocal way, it is my responsibility to use an Indigenous methodology. The fact that I am conducting research with our people regarding their experiences of colonization, I believe I would be no better than the earlier colonizers that used Western positivist perspectives to study our people in the past. Kovach (2009) points out that in doing Indigenous research, researchers need to step away from the Western paradigm and no longer depend on this approach for our research. We can no longer hold an Indigenous perspective within the confines of a non-Indigenous paradigm. Our research is relational because the very nature of it is a holistic perspective that involves personal preparation including observation, inspiration, reasons, self- awareness, and how the researcher sees him/herself in relation to the research. Our perspective takes a subjective and holistic approach; the journey is personal, and experiences with our storytellers and the research is relational (Kovach, 2009). Archibald (2008) speaks of interrelatedness as key to our research, and the value in developing a close relationship with yourself and the participant. It is important to relate to the storyteller, the story, and your personal experiences as the listener [researcher]. Part of doing respectful research is to limit questions of storytellers and focus on listening well. As researchers, we may have questions, but if we listen carefully to the story and trust the process the answers we are looking for may emerge. Storytellers have autonomy about what information they choose to give or withhold based on what they feel I need to know. Asking too many questions implies a need for control over the conversation or process. The academy teaches the 43 opposite of this by presenting knowledge as objective; the student is not encouraged to relate to knowledge on a personal level (Archibald, 2008). As Lavallee (2009) points out Indigenous methodologies are not objective, and they are far from being unbiased. Therefore, is impossible for the researcher to be objective because the researcher is connected to the storytellers and collectively we are connected to all living things. This is interconnectedness. As researchers, we are connected through our emotions and thoughts; both fuel each other and are a part of the entire process (Lavallee, 2009). As a researcher, I know I am connected to this research on a personal and subjective level. I am a part of this research just as I am aware I am part of the land, water, sky, cosmos, and all our relations. My emotions, heart, and spirit are the driving force behind this research, and as each storyteller shares in this journey, I see them as the holders of knowledge. A storytelling method considers the oral traditions of our people and gives them an opportunity to tell their story in their own words. For our people, telling our story is important because we come from an oral tradition; this is how we express ourselves, tell about our journeys, and pass on knowledge to others within our culture. When I do research, I see how sitting with storytellers and hearing their stories about their healing journey are very personal and it is important for me to convey this information as it was received. I must keep in mind that their stories do not belong to me and how I convey their stories to others is my responsibility based on the way it was time-honored. In conclusion, this research is grounded in Indigenous knowledge systems and philosophy of science and was conducted in a respectful, reciprocal, and responsible way. As Wilson (2008) points out, an Indigenous paradigm increases the chances that research will be enriching to Aboriginal lives and not a source of disparagement or depletion. 44 Community Values – Working Together As a part of the research process, I felt it was important for me to connect with our community and discuss the proposed research with community members. The purpose in doing this was to connect with potential storytellers, resources, and to “test the waters” to see how open our people would be to taking part in this research with me. What I discovered was people from our community were more than willing to offer me guidance and support in doing this research. Many were proud of me and felt this was important for our community. The values that came forth were patience, respect, listening, keeping an open mind, and heart (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). Autonomy over the research was also important in our community (N. Jack, personal communication, August 24, 2015). A value that stood out was concern for me, and that self-care was an important part of the research process. Particular attention was given to look at myself with respect and care (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). I need to focus on the good things in life, what people are saying, and to learn from the teachings I receive from the stories. I should know what to say about myself and others as a way to support our people (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). It is important to be grateful for each day I have and to treat people as I would want to be treated (D. Allen, personal communication, August 15, 2015). When our people see something, they relate what they see to what they feel; they experience it, want to experience it, and work to experience it so they can understand it better (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). It is how we look after ourselves and heal from what has happened in the past (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). I think this also speaks to how personal this journey is not only for the storytellers but also for me, the researcher – interconnectedness. I was cautioned not to take on the pain of others as they told 45 me their story (N. Jack, personal communication, August 24, 2015). When you work with our people, you need to work with everything: mind, body, spirit, and emotion (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). My self-care became an integral part of the research process, and I looked after my emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental health. I spent time praying to Creator, talking to the Ancestors, asking for guidance and support with every story shared with me. I knew I was not alone on this research journey, and this gave me the strength to continue. I knew I was doing a good thing, and there was a lot of meaning and heart attached to this work. I smudged before or after I heard each story, and I took the time to journal my thoughts and feelings on hearing their healing stories. I kept in mind these were not my stories, and ensured that I did not carry the pain the storytellers experienced on their journeys. Self-care included spending as much time as I could on the land, being close to the water, trees, animals, campfire, wind, rain, sun, moon, and just being in that moment, fully present. I could feel all my relations around me, and this was warm and comforting to me. I got plenty of rest, good food, and exercise on a regular basis. When I explained my research process to others, I was always given support, encouragement, and accolades for the work I was doing. Many people thought I was doing important work, and this certainly encouraged me to continue and do the best I could – it made me feel good. Invitation The invitation process was very informal and I used “moccasin telegram” (word of mouth) to find storytellers. This is a method I am familiar with and has been used by our community long before modern communication. Before this, when I returned home in August 2015 to do my consultation I was given many names of people who would be good resources and storytellers. When I began conducting the research in August 2016, I made phone calls and left 46 messages asking potential storytellers to contact me. Once contact was made, I explained by phone the highlights of the research. If he/she was willing to meet with me, I provided more detail via the Letter of First Contact (see Appendix C) and verbal explanation. I answered questions from potential storytellers. I explained the issues around confidentiality and the need to sign a consent form (see Appendix D). The options for the consent form were for storytellers to remain anonymous or have their name published in the research, and if they wished to be contacted for follow-up or further research. Of the nine storytellers, one wished to remain anonymous. For every contact I made with a possible storyteller, I noted the date and time and what transpired during this connection. Once the storyteller agreed to partake in the research, we set aside a time and place for the storytelling. There were nine storytellers, four men and five women. Presently we have fifteen nations in the Yukon Territory spread across the entire territory. Getting representation from each nation was beyond the scope of this master’s thesis. Of the fifteen nations, I recruited storytellers from seven nations and I made every effort to have storytellers from the different nations. I did not have a complete representative sample for this research, but this research is open to further study by other scholars or me. My research is not a gender specific or gender balanced analysis. I invited storytellers who were open and willing, and who met the inclusion criteria. I did, however, make every attempt to have gender balance, so I kept this in mind as I invited storytellers. Storytellers and teachers This methodology uses the term “storytellers and teachers” in place of the Western research term “participants” to reflect Indigenous epistemologies and approaches inherent in story work. Storytellers are residential school survivors between the ages of sixty-two and 47 seventy-seven years old who self-identified as actively working on their healing. All storytellers were maintaining their healing through reconnection with themselves, family, friends, and community. Healing was defined as storytellers who are sober, non-violent, mentally well, and collectively respected. The study location was in the unceded traditional territory of the Southern Tutchone and Kaska people which is now known as a part of the Yukon. Storytellers were from the following traditional territories: Tlingit, Kaska, Northern and Southern Tutchone, (See Appendix F). As a research site, I chose the traditional territories of our Ancestors because I wanted to do research with the people I will be serving as a counsellor. Most of the research occurred in the unceded traditional territory of the Southern Tutchone people. There are other tribes also living within this traditional territory, so some storytellers were from neighbouring regions. Research using an Indigenous methodology has not been done in our traditional territory. It has not been done in any methodology for the academy. Our people may have been researching it on their own apart from the academy. Inclusion and exclusion criteria For the research, storytellers were people interested in partaking in the research process and who met the study criteria. To ensure they met the criteria, I asked storytellers questions and took into account what I already knew about storytellers from others [family, community, extended family, and friends] or my personal knowledge and experience with the storytellers. All storytellers were given an informed choice, and they understood what was being asked of them. Storyteller inclusion was based on residential school attendance, living a healthy lifestyle, (e.g. maintaining balance - mental, emotional, physical and spiritual), articulate, respectful, supportive/contribution to community, encouraging of research, willingness to help develop 48 research and give permission to record their story, as well as provide guidance and educate the researcher. Exclusion criteria was based on non-attendance at a residential school, early stages of substance recovery and beginning their healing, not supportive of research, too difficult for storyteller to tell story (re-traumatization), denied permission to record story, potential to harm other(s) by inclusion of people in their stories without permission of other(s), and not able to recount story accurately due to cognitive condition(s) (e.g. dementia). The storytellers had the option at any time to change their mind and decide not to be a part of the research. No storytellers terminated their participation thus far, but they are aware they can at any time without explanation. Any gifts given to storytellers are kept regardless of their choice to terminate participation. Not all potential storytellers agreed to be a part of this research, and I let them know it was okay to say no without further explanation. I feel even if their knowledge was not used for this research, the time they set aside to tell me their story needed to be reciprocated in some way. I feel I still had an enriched experience in hearing their story, which will enhance my learning. All stories collected from each of the storytellers was given back to the storytellers to do with as they wish. What I Hoped to Learn To begin the research process with storytellers, I offered some explanation and inspiration as a starting point for them telling their story. Just as when I started the process of making a button blanket, I searched for ideas within and outside of me to find my meanings based on the knowledge I had uncovered. The questions pursued in this research were: What supported residential school survivors to put them on their healing path?, Did they get support from Western counselling practices?, Did they use traditional Aboriginal healing practices?, Did 49 they use a combination of both Western, and Traditional healing practices?, and Were there other circumstances that supported them on their healing path?. Our healing stories I collected the stories using a combination of my field notes and audio recordings of the storyteller’s stories. To ensure I was not disrespectful, I asked permission to take notes while they told their stories. All the storytellers were fine with me taking field notes as they talked. By generating the field notes, I was able to ask questions at the end of their stories to gain clarity. At the conclusion of each storytelling session I would process what I learned from their stories and make further notes. I also made personal notes about my thoughts and feelings in a separate journal, which allowed me to debrief my experiences as the listener. Storytellers chose where they would tell me their stories. Some asked for a specific place, and others left it up to me to decide where we met. We met at their homes, college classroom, and cultural centre. Mostly, we met at the college at “Théezoá” outdoor camp located behind the college. All locations seemed ideal and fit with the storytelling process by the connections to our land, culture, and spirituality. I considered confidentiality and ethics because I researched what the Behavioral Research Ethics Board (BREB) calls “human subjects” but I call “our people”, and I defined these issues through the eyes of the storytellers so that I respected our beliefs about confidentiality and ethics. Absolon (2011) says “our principles and ethics as Indigenous people set us apart from Western researchers. Essentially, the worldviews and principles of Indigenous re-search are embedded in the methodologies themselves” (p. 63). I did respectfully ask to do the research with each storyteller this was done with a sense of humility and humbleness. Informed consent was secured by providing storytellers with a 50 verbal definition and explanation of the consent form. Once explained, I allowed storytellers the opportunity to read over the consent form before signing. I advised storytellers to let me know if they had any questions or concerns with the form. If they were unsatisfied with my explanation or I could not answer a question I advised them that they were entitled to speak with the principle investigator. Epistemological humility is being a part of the research process by participating in ceremony, rituals and offering of gifts for the knowledge I received (Absolon, 2011). There was an openness that allowed all storytellers to decide if they wanted to participate in ceremony, such as a smudge or prayer. I provided all storytellers with the opportunity to smudge and/or pray, some chose to smudge or pray while others went right into telling their story. Lavallee (2009) does caution that some storytellers may not be familiar or comfortable with traditional protocols or ceremony because colonization was very effective in assimilating many of our people. For some storytellers, partaking in these protocols may not be comfortable or understandable to them, and they may refuse. Storytellers decided for themselves what they choose to be involved in within the research process and I respected their choice. Due to colonization, some of our people have developed feelings of shame about our culture or because they lack cultural knowledge (Lavallee, 2009). I found that all storytellers were very clear on what they wanted to partake in regarding ceremony and none asked for an explanation or understanding of the ceremonies offered. I was respectful to recognize that not all storytellers may follow a traditional Indigenous ceremony so I advised I was open to what they wanted to do regarding their own spiritual beliefs. To maintain balance in the research process I needed to give back to the storytellers and I did offer gifts as dictated by protocols around sharing of knowledge (N. Jack, personal 51 communication, August 24, 2015). R. Tetlichi (personal communication, August 13, 2015) indicates that gift giving is required and proper protocol when asking someone to share their knowledge with you. The principle of reciprocity is a part of gift giving and when storytellers share their knowledge with you this is the gift they give you (Lavallee, 2009). All storytellers were given a gift at the beginning of their storytelling. The gifts varied and included items such as beads, tobacco, food, books, candles, plates, tea towels, clothing, and/or coffee/tea. Depending on location and situation, I offered food to storytellers including coffee, tea, water, sandwiches, fruit, and veggies. Some storytellers were focused on telling their story and declined the food, while other times I chose not to offer food because of time constraints. Other storytellers told me their schedule was busy, so I wanted to respect their time. Refreshments were offered at the beginning of the storytelling when the storyteller was finished, I provided food for both of us to eat. This allowed for us to visit and talk further about the research or whatever we felt like discussing. Most storytellers welcomed the refreshments and the food. Protocols need to be in place to carry out activities or methods that respect our people and worldview (Kovach, 2010). All the Indigenous scholars and researchers discuss the idea of giving back or gift giving as a part of the reciprocal protocol imbedded in our way of acquiring knowledge from Elders, storytellers, and community (Absolon, 2011; Archibald, 2008; Kovach; 2009; Lavallee, 2009; Wilson, 2008). I am familiar with this protocol from our Tlingit and Northern Tutchone culture; giving back or gift giving is a central part of the potlatch ceremony. As R. Tetlichi (personal communication, August 13, 2015) points out, in our community one does not get something for nothing, you always have to give thanks by giving back. 52 When all the recorded storytelling sessions were complete, I had the recordings transcribed into hard copy notes. I solicited the support of an Indigenous transcriber because it was important that the transcriber understood and got the nuances and innuendoes particular to our Indigenous ways of storytelling. I reviewed the transcriptions while listening to the recordings to ensure accuracy and all inferences (e.g. pauses, sighs, laughing, etc.) were included in the transcription. I also corrected any transcription errors in names and places. Storytellers received copies of their recorded story. I asked for feedback and if they wish to add, change, delete or correct any part of the information. Giving copies of recordings and transcripts to storytellers is important and it ensures that copyright remains with storytellers (Archibald, 2008). Should there be any disagreements, misunderstandings or misinterpretations in the research from our communities, I will rectify this matter as needed. Copies were given to all the storytellers in person or sent by registered mailed via the postal office. Storytellers were given approximately two weeks to provide any feedback, and three storytellers provided feedback. I met with the three storytellers that gave me feedback and changes were completed before I began to organize and present the stories in this document. Listening with my three ears: My listening process happened on three different occasions. First, when I sat with storytellers to hear their story, the second time when I sat down to go over their written stories with their audio recordings, and finally when I read through their stories for meaning making. All these occasions had significance in the research process, and I listened with my ears, heart, mind, and observed with my eyes. When I first heard their stories, I know I was listening with my ears, mind, and I observed their facial expressions and body language. I could feel their energy around me as they told me 53 their stories, and I could sense their change in tone depending on where they were in their story. I was fully present with storytellers as they told their stories. The second time I listened to their audio recorded stories was while looking at written copies. To hear their voices brought me back to when I first heard their stories. I reminisced about being back in the time and place as the story was told and I could see their faces as I heard their recorded voices. It was not until the third time when I sat down to read their stories did I truly understand what listening with your three ears meant. I was entrenched in their story and I could see and feel what they were saying. Similar to watching a motion picture, I was with them as an observer and witness to their stories of their healing journeys. I listened completely with my heart and my eyes as a gateway to making meaning of their stories. The importance of listening well means listening with your three ears: your heart and your two ears (Archibald, 2008). R. Tetlichi (personal communication, August 13, 2015) echoes the need to listen and ask if you can interrupt with a question(s) or should you wait until the end of the story. Along with respectful listening, the listener also needs to show patience by keeping an open heart and mind (R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). Blazing the trail August 2015 o Network and make connections with our community. Sept 2015 – March 2016 o Develop thesis proposal: introduction, literature review and methodology. Choose thesis committee members. April 2016 – July 2016 o Thesis proposal defence. Ethics Board Application process. August 2016 o Gather data from storytellers. 54 Sept 2016 – May 2017 o Gather/organize/meaning making, write thesis paper. July 2017 – Thesis defense Storytelling in balance In keeping with the storytelling tradition, I had to step away from colonial influences by decolonizing myself and look at the research about how storytelling played a role in our cultural ways of knowing. As indicated by Archibald (2008) I also started with respect as I looked at the cultural knowledge embedded in the stories, and I had the utmost respect for the storytellers in this research. I had to connect to the storyteller as a listener, setting aside any objectivity and immersing self into the story as it was told. The approach I took to collecting data involved listening rather than asking a set of structured interview questions. The most I asked of the storytellers was to simply tell me the story of their healing journey. I allowed storytellers the freedom to express their journey as they wished. I used a visual to stimulate the healing stories. I used the diagram “Who Am I” (see Appendix B) to stimulate the healing stories. “Who am I” is by Mohawk Elder Sylvia Maracle found in Anderson’s 2016 text “A Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood”. It allowed female and male storytellers to discover their meaning-making based on our cultural beliefs. The emphasis of Anderson’s book is looking at the colonizing effects on our people and how we have lost our balance as a society. The purpose of the circle was to assist storytellers to engage this perspective as they told their story. To introduce this circle and set the tone, I began by briefly sharing my healing story. I asked storytellers to begin to think about the questions in the circle including Who are you not?, Looking back…where have I come from?, Where is my healing path leading me?, and What responsibilities do I have to myself, to our culture and people? I started by using myself as an 55 example. I placed myself on the “Who Am I” diagram and shared how I started my healing journey and how I thought about and answered these questions. Most of the storytellers found this helpful, and I could see they were getting the purpose of the “Who Am I” diagram and how to apply to it to themselves and their own healing. I told the storytellers the diagram is just one way of beginning their stories, and it is a tool to get them thinking about how they would like to start. If the storyteller had an idea about how to start, I let them proceed as they wished. I found I had to be cautious with the explanation of the “Who Am I” diagram so I was not directing or steering them in a direction that would benefit the research outcome. I wanted the storytelling process to be genuine and told in such a way that what I was witnessing and hearing was what I needed to know for the research. The storytellers were free to go in any direction and determine the information they believed I needed to know. I had trust and faith in the storytellers to direct the research, as per the principles of Archibald’s (2008) storywork approach. Ethics Even though I am an Indigenous researcher and I conducted the research in an Indigenous methodology, I was aware that I could still be seen as an “outsider” who came into the communities from a Western university to study our people. I do believe as an Indigenous person I experienced some leniency and trust, but suspicion veils all research. As I think back on my experience with our people, and when I presented the research, I do not believe this was an issue. As part of doing research within the academy, I was required to make an application to the University of British Columbia Research Ethics Board to obtain approval in conducting research with our people. My research was with our people who have been failed by multiple systems and who are survivors of the effects of colonization and residential school trauma. Storytellers discussed issues in their past that could have triggered strong emotions, and leave 56 them open to re-traumatization but based on my observations and feedback all storytellers did well. I checked in with all storytellers during and after their storytelling, and I noted no adverse effects. All storytellers indicated that they were able to speak about their past and their healing journey because they had worked on their healing therefore talking with me did not create triggers. Most storytellers indicated that talking about their experience was an intricate part of their healing and therefore further discussions did not affect them as they did when they were new to their healing journey. As a researcher and counsellor, I had strong supports and resources in place. I advised storytellers that I would be more than willing to offer them professional resources from within the community should they need extra supports (See Appendix E). I honestly felt and still believe that the storytellers had no adverse effects from their storytelling experience. I ensured that I followed up with all storytellers to confirm they are doing well after they shared their stories. Because of the subjective and personal nature of the research, I did not see myself doing anything less than this to ensure storytellers were doing well long after completing the research. I need to ensure that I share research findings with storytellers by presenting the findings in a clear, concise, respectful, and understandable manner. The use of plain language instead of technical jargon is important when communicating (Archibald, 2008; D. Allen, personal communication, August 15, 2015; N. Jack, personal communication, August 24, 2015; & R. Tetlichi, personal communication, August 13, 2015). Archibald (2008) indicates there is a fine line between asking questions and being a nuisance. The Western ways of asking permission, signing documents and rechecking for accuracy can be seen as the researcher not getting it right or that the researcher does not trust 57 what the storyteller has said (Archibald, 2008). I continued to communicate with the storytellers, and I was able to hear responses from three storytellers which continue to shape my work. Holders of the stories Copyright of the stories belongs to the storytellers who shared their experiences. They do not belong to the University of British Columbia or me. The University of British Columbia recognizes that thesis copyright belongs to the student, but the student is required to allow the publication of the thesis in their library data base cIRCle (The University of British Columbia, 2017). Further, the university library, archives and libraries Canada will submit a student’s thesis on the internet and searchable databases allowing access to anyone. Students retain copyright but have given “non-exclusive” use to the university library and Canadian archives and libraries (The University of British Columbia, 2017). Within the Canadian Constitution of 1867 amendments in 1982 resulted in section 35 which addresses Aboriginal rights in Canada (Comparative Constitution Project, 2017). Section 35 does not give a clear definition of what those rights include but does point out that land claims are a part of our rights as a people (Comparative Constitution Project, 2017). I know within the Yukon the Land claims agreements have been settled with most of our people and included in our right is our history, culture, beliefs, knowledge, and land entitlements. Respectful Indigenous research speaks to autonomy, and I honored our belief in autonomy by returning the research to the storytellers – they are the rightful owners of the knowledge they have shared. I will ensure that storytellers receive a published copy of the final version of this manuscript as a gift and acknowledgement of their sharing. I want the storytellers to know that this research would not be possible if it were not for their support, openness, trust, and faith in me. To honour them, I must return copies of this document back to the storytellers. This tradition 58 is part of tribal law and our protocols around stories. This is knowledge that should be shared and accepted as a way of knowing. Meaning making The stories were grouped into themes and ideas based on finding the story within the story, my reactions and responses to the stories within the stories, “I” poems, and the three laws (Creator’s, natural, and tribal law). In following an Indigenous methodology, I use the term meaning-making to discuss what would be called “themes, ideas or data analysis” in Western research. Storytellers might see Western approaches as someone else’s rules and expect me to do the best I can in the best way I know how (Archibald, 2008). I believe I did the best I could with what I know and with the guidance of the storytellers and the knowledge they carry. For each story, I looked for the story within the story by sorting the entire story into segments that contributed to the entire story. This process is similar to making a button blanket based on design meaning and how that meaning will be expressed on the blanket and the contributing parts that will make up the entire blanket. There is a story to each part of the button blanket that contributes to the entire significance of the blanket. Gilligan, Spencer, Weinberg and Bertsch (2003) describe this process as listening for the plot of the story in the story. This two-part process includes listening for the plot and the listener’s response to the story. To begin, the listener needs to get a sense of location or a lay of the land through identification of the stories being told, like what is going on - the when, why, where, and with who. As listener you listen for any themes or metaphors, what is not expressed, and absences or contradictions within the story. Identification of the larger social context of the story is experienced by the connection between storyteller and listener at a social and cultural level (Gilligan et al., 2003). 59 The second part is for the listener to include their thoughts and responses to the stories they witness by identifying any reactions, feelings, and relational connections with the storyteller (Gilligan, et al., 2003). As researchers using an Indigenous methodology, we are not able to remain completely objective observers or listeners; we become involved within the story and pay attention from a personal perspective. In essence, we walk with the person on their storytelling journey, and on some level we experience what the storyteller is telling us. Reflexivity is crucial to the listening process. We interact with the storyteller on a personal level through our values, interests, beliefs and kinship. As we read the story, we pay attention to our emotional responses by noting when we feel or do not feel a connection with the storyteller. We note what touches our heart, the thoughts and feelings that emerge, why we respond this way and the effect this will have on how we view the storyteller and their story (Gilligan, et al., 2003). In essence, we listen with our three ears - our two ears and our heart (Archibald, 2008). To connect the heart and the mind as a listener allows us to a make meaning from the story because some stories may not always be explicit or explained by the storyteller (Archibald, 2008). The second phase of the listening process is to listen to the “I poems” within the story (Gilligan, et al., 2003). As we read through the story for a second time, we find all the places in the story where the storyteller uses “I”, such as ‘I said’, ‘I did’, ‘I was’, ‘I could’, ‘I heard’, ‘I thought’, ‘I don’t know’, ‘I think’, ‘I am’, etc. These are noted, highlighted and pulled out of the story and written down in a sequence as the story unfolds. The purpose is to pay attention to the storyteller’s voice such as the tone, pitch or strength, and tempo. We listen for emotional responses such as happiness, sadness, fear, uncertainty, and change in the tone of the storyteller’s voice. Listen for when the storyteller speaks from the heart, or uses a lot of action or movement 60 such as saying several times ‘I thought’ or ‘I think’, or taking action by saying ‘I did’, ‘I told’, ‘I said’, ‘I got’, etc., (Gilligan, et al., 2003). The next step in the “I poems” is to listen for how the storyteller speaks of him/herself and how they know who they are (Gilligan, et al., 2003). By placing the listener in a relationship with the storyteller, the listener cannot be objective or distant. This step is crucial in understanding in a relational way. As the storyteller speaks of their personal experiences and the journey from past to present, the listener develops a close connection or bond. For example, when the storyteller speaks of a singular experience of how they saw themselves or what their feelings were and how the listener relates to the storyteller’s experience (Gilligan, et al., 2003). Throughout the listening process, I also listened for when the three laws of our people, Creator, natural and tribal law, were incorporated into the storytelling process. This phase was suggested by William when I had asked the storytellers if they had suggestions or ideas of how I should proceed with interpreting the stories. William explained that all three laws are a part of the interconnectedness and social structure of our culture, beliefs, and ways of knowing. Creator’s law focuses on the personal and spiritual connection we all have with Creator. This law is grounded in the spiritual journey, and we all need to work toward this on our own. Within Creator’s law, there are ten laws for men and five laws for women. The natural law is the law for all of nature including the universe, animals, land, water, sky, trees, human beings, sun, moon, stars and all the way down to the smallest living creatures. How we live in harmony, connect and have respect for and with each other is at the heart of this law. Tribal law is the law that tells us how we should govern and conduct ourselves within our nations. This law speaks to our potlatch system, gender protocols, clan systems, matriarchal structure, family names, and our status or wealth within our tribes. All of these laws are interconnected, overlap with each other, and are 61 woven together like our cedar hats. There can be rippling effects like waves on a lake. If one law is broken the other laws are also bound to be affected in some way. I did not realize until William explained these laws that I had heard them before. They were just not described as natural, tribal and Creator’s laws. I was trained in these laws by my parents. They are interwoven into our ways of knowing and being. I believe these laws have been around since time immemorial. Because they come from our oral history, it is highly unlikely we will find them written down or recorded. Just as our spiritual practices have remained sacred, I believe these laws are what was verbally passed down from one generation to the next. On some level I would speculate that these laws are a part of our blood memory and can be passed down through our genetic memory without having to be taught to us. An example story of my father and my mother teaching me these laws comes from my early twenties. I was out hunting with my father and at the time I was familiar with the protocols of women who go on the hunt. My mother had always talked to me about how I should conduct and present myself, and the boundaries of these protocols. My father had harvested a moose, and I was helping him cut up the moose. I was so focused on what I was doing that I did not realize I had done something wrong. When we got home my father spoke to my mother, and she pulled me aside and spoke about my inappropriate action. I had stepped over the blood of the moose instead of walking around. This resulted in disrespecting and breaking our tribal law that sets out gender protocols. I broke the natural law by not respecting the harvested moose, and I brought shame to myself and my father in the eyes of Creator. 62 Chapter 4: Reconnecting with our Traditional Healing - Findings I engaged in this research to learn from our residential school survivors about how they defined healing from their experience. I used an Indigenous methodology, and I present this work from a holistic, interconnected way of knowing about healing. While generating this research I was also making a button blanket. There are times when I metaphorically relate the making of a button blanket to the stories presented by the storytellers. Each story is interconnected and relational just as the various aspects of the button blanket make up a whole meaning. I hope this interconnection will help answer my questions: What supported residential school survivors to put them on their healing path? Did they get support from Western counselling practices? Did they use traditional Aboriginal healing practices? Did they use a combination of both Western, and Traditional healing practices? Were there other circumstances that supported them on their healing path? Story 1: Roger’s Story Roger is a member of the Wolf clan and he is Northern Tutchone situated in the unceded traditional territory of the Han speaking people from the Yukon. Roger was six years old when he was taken from his parent’s home in [xxxx] and sent to residential school in [xxxx], Yukon. He remained there for nine years. He was given a number which he still remembers to this day; it is seventy-three. Roger describes his residential school experience as horrific and shocking. Once out of the school, Roger says his life was filled with a lot of hate and anger. He got into many fights and showed virtually no other emotions. Roger lived on the streets in Alberta and learned to survive by stealing. He recalls standing at his son’s grave and being asked why he was showing no emotions or tears. Roger wondered why they were questioning him. In his mind, and 63 what he had learned at residential schools, was that he was a man and men did not cry. He said holding back all that pain, was the hardest thing he ever did in his life. Roger eventually went to treatment, and it was there he discovered just how much he was affected by his experience in residential school. As I looked for his story within the story, a crucial part of his healing was opening the door to his emotions and letting go by talking about his experience. The door opened up to his healing by bringing forth his anger, and he talked about what happened to him, he did this in a circle, he describes this: They asked me to talk about my story so I sat in the middle of the cushions there and then I started talking and I could feel the anger and he [counsellor] said just let it go, just keep going. He said if you get angry just beat on those pillows and all I remember was just getting angry, and I was just starting to yell and curse and then I blacked out. People in the circle told Roger what happened when he blacked out: You were down there for a good half an hour, beating, cussing, yelling and swearing and everything and just puking your guts out. He goes on to describe how he felt after this experience by saying: I’m just physically drained, mentally, and physically and he [counsellor] said yeah, you’ve got a lot of garbage out and I didn’t know what they meant by garbage and I said well whatever it is, I said I actually am feeling better inside now. As Roger speaks of his experience of letting go of what happened to him in those schools, he explains this: In school, we weren’t allowed to ask and they [counsellor] said well you’re not in school no more, and I said you’re absolutely right and so that kind of stuff I had to let go and a 64 lot of them said [other survivors] how can you talk about it? I said the more you talk about it the easier it gets, you got to learn to let it go. You know it’s not yours, it was never yours and don’t blame yourself because you were only a kid. I got the sense from Roger that talking about his experience was a huge weight off his shoulder and he realized that healing was taking place for him. He spoke of feeling much better after telling his story for the first time. As Roger speaks about this time in his life, his “I” poem brought up the emotions he was feeling from a place of awareness to finding confidence in himself. There is a lot of physical and emotional feeling in his voice as he describes how this experience was for him in the circle. He was very vocal and it appears to have been a very humbling experience for him. Roger understood that he needed to make changes and recognized he had no control over what had happened to him because he was a child. He internalized the negative stereotypes he was subjected to in the residential school. When Roger realized he was no longer that scared child, there was strength in his voice. He understood he did have control and could make things better for himself. Roger is able to look at his life and say who he was not, who he wanted to be, and where he wanted to go; he is not all those stereotypes he was led to believe from those schools. For Roger, letting go is essential to his healing and speaking of his experience helps him on his Red Road [healing journey]. When we travel our Red Road, it is a very personal experience that connects you on a level that speaks powerfully to Creator’s law. Connecting with one’s spirit by knowing who we are and where we are going in this life is very much a part of Creator’s law. A good part of this connection means you are also connecting with Creator on a personal level by asking for support and guidance on a daily basis. 65 As I listen with my three ears to Roger’s story, I find I have mixed emotions that affected me; unlike the first time I sat with Roger to hear his story. I have moments of sadness, pride, anger, happiness, sorrow, pain, compassion, and caring. As I read his story, I can clearly visualize Roger and hear his voice in my head. I realize with Roger’s story, that listening to my father tell me stories as a child taught me how to really listen. I bothered my father to tell me the same stories over and over, and I never tired of listening. Clearly, that time in my life has brought meaning and purpose to this research and helped me to really listen to Roger’s story. Roger is an amazingly strong, compassionate, and caring human being. He comes from his heart and he finds strength and pride in what he does. The strength and resilience of our people just amazes me. He gives me such hope for the work we do with our people and reinforces just how much the work we do is heart driven. Each time I read his story I hear and feel the journey he is on. I wish so many other survivors who are still struggling to find their Red Road would also begin to talk about their experiences as a means to let go of the trauma they experienced. As a counsellor, I believe this is a key aspect to healing. He is right when he said our survivors were children; they had no control or power to stop what was happening to them. Story 2: Barb’s Story Barb is a member of the Ishkahittaan Crow clan and she is of Tlingit and Southern Tutchone ancestry. Her nation is located in the unceded traditional territory of the Southern Tutchone people and she spent most of her life growing up one these traditional lands. Barb describes the first six years of her life with her grandmother as living a very healthy lifestyle. Her bond with her grandmother was very strong, and she learned a lot about living a traditional life. As a child, she says she was very outspoken and feels she was what she called “a smarty pants”. She remembers being taken from her auntie’s home to the mission school when she was six years 66 old. In grade three she was transferred to the residential school in [xxxx] where she experienced most of her trauma. Barb says she knows she had a number in residential school but does not remember. Barb’s story focuses on traditional values such as culture, knowing who you are, your identity, and language. She feels that the key to healing is learning about our culture and it was important for her healing journey: Lots of education, I really took an interest in learning about how to make our people well, and of course making and applying to myself and everything to where my healing journey is now, is just focusing on our traditional values and beliefs and trying to bring those back. Her traditional values and beliefs speak to our tribal, natural and Creator’s law; all are intertwined in her story about how she learns. She speaks of her first six years at home with her grandmother who helped her remember and recall what she had learned as a small child, including her language that is not forgotten: I think no matter how young we were we remember those [traditions] and I think I get a recall too for language I remember because we spoke it fluently before we went to school and I’m starting to get some phrases back. As she talked about these key aspects to her healing I can see how she answers the questions in Anderson’s diagram of “Who Am I”, “Who Am I Not”, and “Where Am I going?” The strong connections she developed with her grandmother speaks to the strong bond between child and grandparent, which is a part of our tribal law. Residential school did not take away her original thoughts, experiences, and traditions, which is similar to blood memory. We carry our 67 knowledge with us, it is passed on from one generation to the next through the genes, and we do not forget. The “I” poems from Barb’s experiences convey a lot of action mixed with thoughts of what to do, and what needs to be done for her to heal. She expresses thoughts about the past and present, the significance to her, and how and who she is. By taking action, she worked to remember, and she knows the information resides inside her. Within her words, you could feel the confidence and sureness in what she focuses on and she believes this with all that she is. I experienced Barb as an amazingly strong woman; her earlier life experiences help her on her healing journey. What she learned from her past transcended into the present and future. She expresses that it was important to tell me about her first years with her grandmother and how that solid grounding helped her survive residential school. She never lost what she learned from birth to six years old, and she works to uncover what residential school tried to erase. Her strong advocate’s voice and the survival skills she learned because of residential school is now put to use helping our people. Even after attending the schools, that resilient, determined, and outspoken little girl did not lose these qualities, which helped her survive to become a strong, intelligent woman. As I listen to Barb’s story for the third time with my three ears, I realize how much her story affected me. Self-care was crucial to not taking on what was not mine to carry. When I look closer, listen with my heart and marinate in her story, I feel like I was there with her. I walk with her on this journey, of her experiences as an observer and witness. I feel her pain and fears, about not knowing and always feeling confused about her experiences in those schools. Her story touched my heart and soul. 68 Story 3: Ed’s Story Ed is a member the Yen Yédí Wolf clan and his nation is located in the unceded traditional territory of the Tlingit people from British Columbia. His father passed away when he was fourteen, and his mother raised him and his five siblings in [xxxx]. Ed has lived most of his life in [xxxx] and periodically returns to British Columbia. He describes his up-bring as a pretty normal lifestyle aside from discrimination, lack of work, and high levels of poverty back in the fifties and sixties. There was a lot of drinking and violence within his family. Ed went to residential school in [xxxx] for two years. While at residential school he was abused by the supervisor. He expresses that a combination of violence, alcohol, and attending residential school lead him to drinking for approximately twenty-five years. Ed said he worked hard during the day and played music in a band at night. For Ed, healing began when he was working in leadership for his nation in British Columbia and people were talking about the residential school issue. Ed decided it was time for him to start doing some research and to educate himself: I started looking into this and I guess once you put your focus on something trying to find an answer to come of this situation, even though it’s sort of cloudy and unsure and everything like that, you start finding things and I found books that dealt with trauma and I read that book and all the stuff that happened to us was mentioned in these books. I kind of went on my own little quest of sorts and started looking into this more and more, and I started educating myself. As he describes his educational quest to find answers to what happened to our people in the residential schools he also discovered he was beginning to get triggered and his own anger started to bubble to the surface: 69 Once I understood what the problem was, I started looking for answers and by this time I was getting pretty triggered I guess. I was starting to kind of fall into; I don’t know how you would say it. I guess I was getting like angry and I found myself starting to go back and I was getting really angry with the way we were treated. Ed did not know that with knowledge comes change. He reports that change was discovering more about what he had been through and just how much he was affected by his residential school experience. Education is an important factor in Ed’s healing journey. It is a part of our Tribal Laws, just as we talk and learn about our cultural values, beliefs, and history. Ed indicates that learning from Elders is one way to connect with traditional teachings. As he was reading a book Ed realized he had heard the wisdom before, but he was not exactly sure where. He describes his discovery: I’ve seen all this stuff before. Now where did I see it? And I always had a warm feeling when I thought about it in my heart and then I thought I know where it is – it’s those Elders, those old time Elders. So I started thinking about the wisdom of these old timers. Our tribal law speaks to the respect and honour we place on our Elders. They are the holders of our history and culture. Elders also play an active role in our healing and our cultural identity. Ed appreciated that an Elder’s wisdom is an important part of our healing and he gravitated to them. As I listened to Ed’s “I” poems, I got a sense of lots of doing, a proactive stance and a sense of hunger to be filled with knowledge, because inside his story the message was ‘education is power’. He was verbal and descriptive of what he saw and heard, mixed with thoughts from the past to the present. 70 Ed is a force to be reckoned with. He clearly sees his path, he knows what he has gone through and he knows where he is going. I witnessed his passion, drive, and focus. I noticed that what Ed learned, he learned well and he enacted it in his life. What he learned, he always shared. Sharing what we learn is very much a part of our Tribal laws. Ed is an advocate for our people and I believe he does this from his heart. There is energy to his story. He has an intensity that is very impactful and leaves a lasting impression long after being in his presence. I am astounded at Ed’s resiliency given all that he has gone through, and that he is able to hold on to his sense of humour. I have known Ed since I was a child. He was best friends with one of our brothers, so there is a sense of comfort and familiarity with Ed. He is soft-spoken, approachable, and there are moments of laughter and seriousness as he told his story. I appreciate his use of metaphors and one particular metaphor stands out for me: It’s like in a filing cabinet and I can take it [residential school story] out, look at, discuss and put it back in the cabinet without it hurting me. I have started to use this metaphor with clients to explain that by talking about negative experiences you will begin to heal from them. Soon you will be able to file them away and bring them out without being re-traumatized. I like how this metaphor sets him apart from the trauma he experienced that he is not his trauma; this is what happened to him, but it does not have to be a part of him. He can set it aside and, in essence, let it go. So many of our residential school survivors internalized what was said to them and they believe this is who they are. Ed proves he is not and I believe he truly knows who he is. 71 Story 4: William’s Story William is a member of the Wolf clan and his nation is located in the unceded traditional territory of the Southern Tutchone people located in the Yukon. He is married to a woman who is a part of the Southern Tutchone people. His mother was originally from the Kaska Nation, and his dad was from the Tahltan Nation. William attended residential school from the age of six until he graduated twelve years later. At six years old, he was taken to the residential school in [xxxx]. At thirteen years old he was transferred to another residential school for three years and for his last two years to another - both locations were in [xxxx]. William describes his life after leaving residential school as needing time for him. When he returned home, only to see the effects of alcohol was still a big part of his families’ life, he decided it was not for him. William had enough of school, so he worked at different jobs and did his survival work. Eventually he met his wife, and he attributes the continuation of his healing to his union with her. He reports that his wife is strong and comes from a good home. William was able to connect with Spiritual healers in Alberta, and that opened the door to a new way of knowing and being spiritual that is culturally relevant to him. William indicates that a key factor in his healing was asking for help and recognizing he was not alone. He describes this experience by using a metaphor about falling: I instill the belief in me that is the path that I’m on right now is like walking on the edge of a thin paper. You can fall on either side at any given time but at the same time it’s not the falling that’s really an issue it’s finding a way to get back up and continue on the path and for me it’s not hard right now to do that because I always ask for help. William’s metaphor reminded me of the metaphor of the “rabbit hole” told by a respected Elder. As we walk our path, if we are not paying attention we can fall into a “rabbit hole”. At 72 first, we do not know how to get out. Eventually we do get out, but each time we fall into the rabbit hole we more quickly find our way out. In time, we no longer fall in because we learned all we needed to learn from that experience. William describes how he asks for help from his “home fire”: Home fire is a belief system that was given to us, it looks after, first the home fire is looking after the Spirit within me - the gift of life that was given to me. It’s not mine, I don’t own it, I just have the responsibility of looking after it and when my time is up that responsibility is taken and given back, but that’s my belief. The gift of life is sacred and it was given to us by Creator. William recognizes this and he indicates that he has a responsibility to himself and to our people; he expresses that he wants to share and help people to see their home fire. This is Creator’s law, the personal relationship we have with Creator because of the gift given to us. For William being grateful each day and appreciating what he has was important to how he sees his life. The following quote shows that he does not take this lightly or for granted: Being grateful that when I do a reality check that I don’t have any sickness and to be grateful for that. To do a reality check and say you have a new day to change the way I am when I wake up in the morning and give thanks for that. He extends his gratitude to include his family: To acknowledge that my wife is still here with me, my daughter is still with me. We have grandchildren that are a part of our lives that we need to give them the tools to survive because their life is going to be different and how important it is for them to be connected with the Ancestors. 73 William’s gratitude for what he has in his life is important to his continued healing. The importance of acknowledging what we have as opposed to longing for things we do not have seems to be the message William wants to convey. He is grateful for his grandchildren and the opportunity to instill in them a strong foundation of traditional teachings. As I listened to William’s “I” poems in his story of his “home fire”, I could hear his action-oriented approach and the sense of respect he has for himself and others. His faith shines through with confidence and assurance in his voice. His voice comes across as polite and respectful, always asking for permission and he knows what works for him. As he speaks about gratitude, his voice is clear and concise, and he is grateful for all he has in his life. He does not seem to take anything for granted nor does he expect or ask for more. William follows the three laws and his entire story is reflected back to each of these laws, which are embedded in his story. When he speaks of respect for self and others, asking for and giving help, and always being grateful, he connects with tribal, natural, and Creator’s law. I got the sense that his personal spiritual relationship with Creator is paramount. It is through Creator’s law that the other two laws are interconnected and interwoven, just as each button makes up the design and tells a story about the person wearing the button blanket, who and where they are, what their beliefs are, and the respect they have for self and their tribe. I appreciate how he speaks of gratitude for what we have in our lives. I feel he is saying that we should be grateful for what we have because, if we are not and we only long for things we do not have, this will negatively affect our spirit. When I wake up each day and step outside, I always say thank you to Creator for allowing me another day on Mother Earth. I always ask the Ancestors to give me guidance and support. I am grateful for the lessons and teaching I receive each day. I never forget that in a single moment things can change unexpectedly. 74 William presents as a solid, strength based human being with strong traditional values. Plain spoken, he means what he says and he does what he means. He is very humble; even in his moments of silence you can feel his presence. In his story, William follows the traditions of our matriarchal system, recognizing the solid base of his home and life with his wife. He spoke of his wife with tenderness, love, respect and a deep understanding and connection. William passes no judgement on others, accepting everyone and everything as they are with a great deal of respect. He conveys ownership over his own path and journey and speaks of all of us holding our own journeys in this life and how we take our journey is of our choosing. In his story, he is not alone. William shared how we are all connected, all our relations, and he is a part of this whole. William’s home fire remains bright until he is asked to go home to Creator, then he is no longer responsible for that inner light – his spirit. Story 5: Grandmother’s Story Before attending the mission school in Whitehorse, Grandmother lived on the trap line with her family and led a very traditional lifestyle. At ten years old she was taken, and she spent approximately five years at the mission school. In the summer she was able to go home to her family, and she spent most of her time on the trap line. She describes her experience in residential school as being able to learn how to cook, sew and do craft work. Grandmother said the supervisor at the time in the residential school was respectful and understanding of our ways. The supervisor treated the children well, however when he passed his nephew took over and things changed. The new supervisor was very strict and punished the children. Grandmother speaks of her healing and how she looks ahead and not back as a part of her journey: 75 You just look ahead – what does the future hold for me. Where do I go from here? I have lost many family members and this camp has always been a healing spot for us when there was a death in our family this is where we always come. She made a plan, connected with family, the land, and spoke about what needed to be done: This is where we always come to and have a dinner and discussion what we [family] are going to do and how we are going to do it and this is where we did everything, down here [her camp]. She always questions what and where she wants to go. She is clear about wanting to see where the future leads. Interconnectedness is the key to her continued healing. She does not look back, the past cannot be changed; she hopes to learn from our past in order to move forward in a healthier way. Having strong connection to family is a part of our beliefs in Tribal law. The connection she has to her camp spoke volumes to our natural law and having respect for the land. In her story, she finds solace and is grounded by her crafts, especially her sewing. In Grandmother’s story, she teaches others about sewing as a way of giving back: I teach people how to sew with a sewing machine, how to do their regalia’s and moccasins and to me it’s my sewing that is healing for me. Like if I’m depressed or mad or something and I just pick up my sewing and it just calms me down and I can think and do things better after that so that is my healing. Grandmother expresses pride in what she does and describes how sewing is therapeutic. There is a sense of pride and a good feeling as she speaks about her sewing and that she can share her knowledge about her gifts. Grandmother’s “I” poems are focused; there is confidence in her voice and a strength you feel as she talks about her life and the conscious choices she has made for herself. There is a lot 76 of action by doing, and for Grandmother, “action” is important to her moving forward with her life and continued healing. Keeping busy is important through “doing”; Grandmother’s knowledge is connected to her activities, hobbies, and lifestyle. Grandmother does not seem concerned with small details and her commitment to larger tasks came across. She expresses faith in her own abilities and depends on herself. She speaks about the past and the present. There was some unsureness as she speaks about past events, especially when she needs support. She puts her feelings and thoughts into everything she does through reflection before taking action. Grandmother’s story is very clear to me. She expresses self-knowledge, knowledge of where she wants to go, and she has figured out how she will arrive. As an Elder, she articulates her responsibilities to her family and community, and this is tribal law. Her grandchildren are the focal point of her life. Of all the storytellers, she expressed that residential school was not so bad for her. The strength of her parents to ensure the safety of their children is evident in her story. I wish this could have been the same for all our people. She is a very “matter of fact” storyteller. In her story, Grandmother operates from her stated belief system. Her connection to family, land, animals and her belief in Creator is very strong. Throughout her story she follows tribal, natural, and Creator’s laws. She states she does not believe in looking back, but going forward, because the past is truly the past and she no longer resides or lingers there. Sewing is one of my passions, so I can completely relate to Grandmother as she speaks about her sewing. As an avid sewer, I also find sewing healing. There is a sense of accomplishment and pride in the art of sewing; it feels good to share those skills because you are sharing knowledge. It feels good to watch something you create develop before your eyes. As I pursue my education, building my button blanket helps me stay grounded. 77 From this storyteller, I learned a lot about how our traditional beliefs are strong in our culture despite colonization and residential schools. As a people, we are very resilient. As she told her story, it was nice to be on the land just to hear the sounds of nature around us. There was a sense of calm, warmth, and comfort that I can only describe as a connection to Spirit, Creator and the Ancestors all around us. She knows my family, and she shared stories about my family I have never heard before. It was very special to me; it touched my heart. Story 6: Norman’s Story Norman is of Kaska and Tahltan ancestry and his nation is located in the unceded traditional territory of the Kaska people located in the Yukon. His mother is Kaska and his father is Tahltan. He spent the first six years of his life living a traditional lifestyle with his parents in British Columbia. Each winter he would go on the trap line with his parents. At seven years old, Norman was taken from his parents and sent to residential school in [xxxx]. He spent approximately five years there. Norman started to drink at a very young age. He was shy and found drinking helped him to be less shy. Norman started working and was getting into trouble with people in authority, such as the police. He did not like authority figures due to his experience in residential school. Norman feels he was trying to drink himself to death. He had so much loss and grief that he did not want to feel his pain, so alcohol was a way to cope with it. In 19xx Norman decided to quit alcohol “cold turkey”. He stopped and never went back. In that same year he met his wife, who he has been with for approximately thirty-six years. He contributes this relationship to his continued sobriety and healing. For Norman, forgiveness is a part of his healing, but it is hard for him to do: 78 We survived, we made it this far and I’m glad we lived through this, that residential school and we can live through anything I think. But it took me a long time to forgive, to forgive people like what happened in the school but that’s the only way you can move on. Norman sees both sides of his residential school experience and realizes that no one is perfect and there is good and bad in all people: Forgive yourself or ask for forgiveness or for being prejudice but it’s not your fault. You just ask. You know we were all prejudice because they [residential school] made us that way that’s how we were. The white people were running the school and they made us prejudice but then we get older and there’s good and bad in everybody. There’s good people and there’s bad people and all are even. We are not perfect. I think Norman makes a good point, that forgiveness is important not only for ourselves but for those that have treated us badly. We are all still here and for us to move forward with our lives we need to forgive and let go. All people have their faults, no matter where they come from. What we learned in the schools, we have made a part of our lives. He sees both sides of his residential school experience, and this helped him to find forgiveness. He knows no one is perfect including him. Both Creator and tribal law involve forgiveness and accepting people for who they are. Norman says he prays for those who said or did wrongs because they do not know what they are doing, they don’t realize it. Norman speaks of interconnectedness by spending time on the land and having respect for everything because everything comes from Creator: The Creator created everything, respect for this land. Respect everything. Every little thing including bugs, everything’s for a purpose. We learned that but we learned in the bush. As you get older you think oh yeah that’s right, we shouldn’t kill those little bugs 79 or step on them. My parents were right they’re here for a reason. Everything’s here for a reason. He describes that interconnectedness with all living beings is a part of our healing: It’s made to be a part of this world here and everything has its purpose, everything and that’s the healing all right. We use the grandfather rocks we call it like that because they’ve been burnt [in the fire] already, everything’s alive and that’s what keeps me going. Norman sees himself as a part of the interconnectedness and the holistic way of being and knowing; this has been important in his healing. For Norman he follows the natural law, to be out on the land is healing because there is always something to do to keep busy. I have heard from many of our people who have indicated that “keeping busy” supported them on their Red Road. In Norman’s “I” poems he spoke about forgiveness. I got a sense of relief from him that we had survived residential school and we are still here. There seems to be some doubt and hesitation in his voice as he considers how we continue and move forward, but this is only fleeting. He speaks about his connections to nature and being on the land and I sense this connection is very strong and resides within his heart. For him to be connected to nature means his connection and spiritual relationship with Creator is also strong, this is Creator’s law. He says he longs for the days when living on the land was our way of life, and as he thinks out loud, for a moment he goes back to that place when he was a child on the trap line with his parents. As I read over Norman’s story and listen with my three ears, I sense he longs for the past but knows he must go forward. His connection to the land is vital to his healing, and the foundation of his world is his wife. He follows the tradition of our culture that women are the 80 strength and foundation of our family and community. I hear his resiliency in his humor, his ability to forgive, and his strong connection to Creator and all our relations. He knows he has not lost who he is because of residential school – he remembers where he came from. Norman’s story had a profound effect on me when we spoke about the heart and mind connections. He talks about being able to see the people he is speaking about ‘before his eyes’; he is not sure why it is this way. When I read his story for the third time, it came to me that he is speaking about how we carry the people we love in our hearts whether they are still here with us or gone to the Spirit World. I also see the people I love when I speak of them. I know our heart remembers, and when we speak about our loved ones our heart sends this image to our minds for our eyes to see. Norman’s story gives me many lessons; most importantly to be a better human being and counsellor to our people. Story 7: Alice’s Story Alice is of Kaska ancestry and her nation is located in the unceded traditional territory of the Kaska people. She was born in the southern region of the Yukon in the cold month of December and has lived all of her life in the north. She has five children, including her nephew whom she raised when her sister passed away. Alice was six years old when she was taken to residential school at [xxxx]. She was there for ten years after which she was sent to residential school in [xxxx]. When Alice left school and returned to her community, she did not want to go back to the school because of everything that had happened there. To escape the school, she got married and had a large family. Alice describes her marriage as very tumultuous because the relationship included alcohol and physical abuse by her partner. She stayed in the relationship for many years but eventually got tired of being hit. She left, taking nothing with her other than her children. Alice describes the next four years of her life as filled with drinking, until one day she 81 realized what she was doing to herself. She internalized and believed everything her ex-partner and the residential school staff had said about her including that she could not do anything and would not amount to anything. Once she realized this, Alice stopped drinking because she saw what she was doing to herself and her children. She said it was not easy. She had a rough time, but she persevered and started by focusing on getting an education. For Alice, her lived experience played a key role in her healing. She gave back by using her lived experience to help others. She was hired to support our people with their addictions and was asked if she was willing to take on this task: I don’t know anything about alcohol. She [employer] said just go by your experience and what you go through. That way you could talk to people. So I said okay. She noticed that she began to see changes in the people she supported: But then there were some Elders and some older guys my age and they started quitting, so that was really good and then I got another job, so I switched jobs and they began to train me. Alice had a mentor who provided on-the-job training and showed her how to work respectfully with people while ensuring she maintained confidentiality by following tribal law. She learned a lot from this experience. With her lived experience, she began to share with the people she counselled how she worked on her healing: Because when I talk about alcohol, I tell them I was there. I said I drank, I did this, and I used foul language. I said but when I quit I learned a whole lot about myself and what I went through. She goes on to say that talking with people about her experience helped them to realize they are not alone in this. She has also been there: 82 That’s why I talk to you, so you don’t have to think you’re alone in what you’re going through. Everybody goes through that. So that’s how I teach them. As I listen to her talk about her role as an addiction counsellor, I know she was saying that you can’t fool a person, or say to someone who has been through the experience that they don’t know what they are talking about, because they do! She speaks from a place of lived experience; her knowledge and understanding is abundant. In listening to Alice’s “I” poems she comes across as a genuine and open person. There is an essence of “you can’t kid a kidder” when it comes to her experiences with alcohol and being a survivor of the residential school system. She knows what she speaks of and with that comes confidence and knowledge. As she reflects on what she has done and where she is at, there is a deliberate process with lots of action and description of self. She has an energy about her, and I can hear it in her voice. She has such pride in herself and what she does to give back to our people. As I listened to Alice’s story, I noted her rich cultural knowledge base. She is a very respectful and kind woman. Within her quiet demeanour, there is a strong, resilient person with a voice. She is petite and you would not know she was quiet and shy at one time in her life. She has done a great deal to heal herself and always contributes back to her community about what she learned and what worked for her. She lived through it and is a stronger person because of her experience in residential school. Alice has a keen sense of who she is and who she is not. She pays attention to our protocols that are a part of women’s responsibilities and proper conduct, and she follows our tribal law. I absolutely admire and adore Alice. I knew her before hearing her story. She is a positive person and has a lively energy about her. I learned more from her about what it means to be an 83 Indigenous woman who has traditional protocols that must be followed and respected. I appreciate her for what she has been through and how she survived. She initially describes herself as very shy. I could relate to her stress around shyness, and I like how she challenges herself and has overcome her fears to have a strong voice in her community. She made me think of my family experiences and how we relate to each other within tribal law. I admire her genuineness and in some ways her innocence in how she approaches things she does not know by questioning first. She admits she does not know while saying I want to learn. She allows herself to feel her feelings, and then she examines why she feels the way she does. I love this about her! She has broken those residential school rules of: “don’t feel, don’t trust and don’t talk”. Through her story, she taught me so much about our traditional beliefs. Stories educate us, heal us, make us proud and show us how to live life and tell our history as a people. Story 8: Adeline’s Story Adeline is a member of the Kùkhhittàn Clan – Raven Children and her nation is located in the unceded traditional territory of the Tlingit people in the Yukon. Her Tlingit name is “Kh'ayàdê”. She was taken at five years old and attended the mission school in [xxxx], for the next seven years. She continued her education at the local elementary and high school in [xxxx] while she resided at home. She described her experience at residential school as ‘she did fine’ even though she was a small person. She said she stood up for herself and did not let anyone bully her. She felt she did better at residential school because of the abuse in her home. She got married young so she could leave her home and escape the abuse. Her marriage and her family was what made the biggest difference in her life. For Adeline, her educational endeavors and career aspirations play a key role in her healing. She describes this: 84 I was totally comfortable working there in the kitchen and then I worked in the laundry after that. I went back and got more education and I was able to get my job in the government but I worked for the First Nation council in the Yukon for a few years in enrolment. So those are the kinds of things I think I find healing. Spending time on the land and connecting with Elders also helps with her healing: Being on the land and being involved with the Elders. I’m on the Elders Council for my First Nation and I just find it so nice to be around those Elders, they’re trying their hardest to give back, that’s so important. She follows tribal law through the gift of giving of self and spending time with Elders. Adeline recognizes the contributions our Elders make by the teachings they give. The connection to land is grounding for her; she respects the land as defined in our natural law. Adeline knows that culture is healing. She told the story of how she believed she was going to need a lot of help the first time she learned how to make a cedar headband: I just thought wow, well they’re probably going to have to do a lot of helping with me and so I thought well I’ll try it I said and she showed me and I just took off and made it, it was so healing. She surprised herself at how well she did and the pleasure she had in making something she had doubts about. To do such a good job increased her self-esteem and confidence and it was healing. As I read her weaving story, I wondered if this was “blood memory”. She was able to do this so naturally, as if it was innate. The knowledge and experience was already there, passed down from generations who did this work well. Adeline’s “I” poems have a lot of action and doing. There appears to be a “busyness” about her. At times, she seemed to have doubts, but this is not enough to stop her. She is not 85 afraid to try new things, and she faces her fears. When she has doubt she has to think about what or how she would proceed, but once she did she was on her way. Making a difference in her community is important, and at times I could hear the passion in her voice. There was a feeling of satisfaction – healing in all she did. She looked for the positives in her experience at residential school. I felt that it was very important to her that I understood this. She knows of many stories and the bad things that went on, but for her it was okay and she did fine. She strikes me as a very determined lady with lots of strengths because she faced her fears and did what she needed to regardless of the fear she faced. She gained her strength and healing by advocating for our people. As she spoke of her contributions to our community, she reminded me of our late uncle who also did so much through the land claims process to help our people. Clearly, her healing is connected to helping others because she wants it to be better for others. She spoke of how she owes who she is today to the teachings she got from her mother. Her husband is fundamental to her stable home and she confides in him. She says she loves her children and did the best she could to raise them well, but her grandchildren are her heart and they are a focal point to her continued healing. Story 9: Judy’s Story Judy is a member of the Ganaxtedi Crow clan and her nation is located in the unceded traditional territory of the Southern Tutchone people in the Yukon. She is the Elder Representative for her nation on the Elders Council she offers advice and guidance to Chief and Council. She has spent many years in leadership for our people in land claims negotiation, sat on various Boards and Committees, and was the Commissioner of the Yukon. Judy has received many awards and acknowledgments for her hard work, including receiving the Order of Canada. 86 Her first experience with residential school began when she was taken at six years old. She started out in day school then later was registered in the mission school where she stayed until 19xx. She then went to another residential school until she was sixteen years old and when she was old enough to leave she did not return even when her parents tried to convince her to go back. Residential school had too many strict rules and regulations and she had had enough of that. Judy kept herself busy at home, looking after the kids [siblings] and cleaning so her parents would not bother her too much about school. For Judy, her healing came about through helping our community and people. She describes herself as a “doer”; if something needed to be done, she would make it happen: So I see myself going out there to help when something needs to be done if there’s a new program or a new this or that. I like to be a part of it because in the end something good is going to happen. Something good comes out of it. For Judy, this is her healing because she is supporting and advocating for her community: It makes me feel good, I feel energized. It lifts me up, it makes me feel comfortable, it makes me feel good. It’s not like I don’t think about I’m there and I’m going to heal something in me. I think it’s just me (laughs). It’s my doing, maybe it’s my passion. She has a responsibility for our people and community: I just went out, I believed in what I wanted to do and what was the best for my people. I went and did it worked really hard but I also really respected the people I worked with. Judy’s career has been her healing and her passion and this is central to our tribal laws. We are all interconnected and we should be there for each other with the guidance of our leaders. She appears to have found her passion and nothing will stop her. The belief she has in what she is doing seems very strong. Judy is heart driven with all she does; she thrives on this and it 87 benefits all our people. She gets her strength and healing by identifying who she is by helping our people. She knows this is her responsibility as a leader and an Elder. Judy’s “I” poems come with an energized feeling you can hear and sense as she speaks about healing through the work she does. She does not directly say this is what heals her as much as it is something that happens while she is busy “doing”. Sometimes there appears to be hesitation and doubt in her voice, but she still moved forward. Eventually, you can hear when her doubt is gone and she’s got this now! For Judy, this all seemed to come naturally, sometimes more action than thought was needed. I sense it is more of a feeling or a gut instinct that comes from within and I wonder if this is not “blood memory”. Colonization changed the place of our women and took them out of the political realm. Traditionally, women always had a place in the political circle (Anderson, 2016). Judy carried the genetic memory of our women’s position in politics, and she is a natural talent at helping make change happen for our people. My impression of Judy is that she has a passion for her work. Her love is her family, and she defines herself through her work with our people. She is confident, strong, and a purposeful Indigenous woman. You feel her presence when she walks into the room; you cannot miss it, and it can be intimidating and humbling at the same time. I witnessed her political work to bring back the tradition of sharing her belief in our culture’s matriarchal system; she broke the colonial stereotype of who we are not. She works tirelessly for our people to decolonize and bring back our interconnectedness and holistic balance. I get a sense from Judy that educating self through reading and doing her homework gave her power to make changes for the better; healing was something that just happened as a part of this process. As she said: So I think it just was natural and then reading my materials. I do my homework. I like to be a part of it [new program] because in the end, something good is going to happen. 88 I really do admire Judy and see her as a strong role model for me and our people. She is living proof that colonization and the residential school experience did not break us as a people. We resisted, grew stronger, redefined who we are, and above all we are resilient. She taught me that a formal education is not the only way to succeed in a colonial world that still wants us to bow down to colonized ways of knowing and doing. She validated that our lived experience is recognized in our culture as a legitimate way to learn, share knowledge and our people recognized and believed in her this way. Closing the circle For our people, our stories are our education, history, and healing. The stories speak to the ways we understand how knowledge is carried, shared and how we find meaning. All of the storytellers shared the stories about their healing and within each story were multiple stories that made up the entire story; everything was interconnected. As I listened to their stories with my three ears, the two on the side of my head and my heart, I could feel and see their stories. The “I” poems allowed me to pick up on the nuances, thoughts, feelings, and how they saw themselves within their stories. Every story was embedded with our laws, tribal, natural and Creator’s. I walked with each of these storytellers as they spoke of what healing meant for them. Their stories are now a part of me; I carry them with me and they have become a part of the teaching tools that will help me to be the traditional counsellor and human being I want to be. I know sharing their stories was healing for them, for me, and will be for our people in counselling. All storytellers had the opportunity to look over their story segments within this chapter to ensure that the meaning making was what they intended. The feedback I got from all storytellers was positive, that the meaning making was a close portrayal of their healing stories. The storytellers’ complete stories are located in Appendix A. 89 Chapter 5: Conversation Throughout this document, in all chapters I have used the term “our people” to personalize and include myself within this research. This personalization follows the protocols of conducting research within an Indigenous Methodology because I walked with each of these storytellers as they shared their stories with me. All of the Indigenous scholars mentioned within this document speak of how subjective and heart driven we are when conducting this type of research process (Absolon, 2011; Archibald, 2008; Kovach, 2009; & Wilson, 2008). The purpose of this study was to answer the question: How do Yukon Aboriginal People define healing from the Residential School experience? What continues to support survivors to maintain their healing? Through the storytelling process I discovered that for our people healing comes from a strong foundation centered in culture. I have heard from many Aboriginal professionals in the helping field that “culture is healing” (Baskin, 2011; Gone, 2011; Hart, 2002; McCormick, 2009). The connection to land, spirituality, cultural activities, family, and community (McCormick, 2005) was so important for all storytellers. All of these connections come through and are part of our natural, tribal and Creator’s law. I will reaffirm the findings of this research from the various Indigenous scholars cited in this study. I believe that my questions were answered but there were limitations due to the subjective and personal approach to the research. The future of this type of research is important for our people if they are to get the support that is culturally safe in counselling practices and theory (Heilbron & Guttman, 2000; McCormick, 2009). This study is but a small glimpse into what our people define as healing, further research by other Indigenous scholars is important. 90 Our Healing One core implication in the healing of our people was the connection to land and land based activities. McCormick (2009) speaks directly to this relational connection with the land and engaging in land-based activities our people feel grounded, secure, stronger, and socially connected. All storytellers told their story and related their healing to spending time on the land and participating in various activities, such as: trapping, fishing, hunting, gathering medicines, and sharing teachings of land based activities. We are guided by the natural laws of nature which connects with all living spirits. In 2014 Ross indicated for our people connection to and spending time on the land had great benefits to well-being and health that is often deeply felt with lasting positive outcomes. Incorporated with our connection to land and land based activities is our spirituality because it is here that we connect with Creator on the deepest of levels. Directly or indirectly all storytellers discussed how their connection to their spirit was through connection to land, the animals and praying to Creator. Robbins and Dewar (2011) pointed out that interconnectedness with Mother Earth and our people is integral to our healing. Ross (2014) elaborated further by saying that we are all traveling on the same Red Road together as we work to move closer to Creator’s spirit in all that we do. Healing is a life goal for our people and not just a response to a specific injury in one situation (Ross, 2014). As you listen to the storytellers and their stories, you will find the healing approaches they incorporated in their lives as part of their healing, this was not done deliberately or on a conscious level – this is a way of life and living. When our people work to decolonize themselves and connect with their cultural beliefs the progression of healing begins whether this is recognized or not – there is innateness to this process. 91 Culture is healing and culture speaks to our identity as a people. For all storytellers the inclusion of cultural knowledge and activities was important to their healing (McCabe, 2007; McCormick, 2009; Ross, 2014). Some of the storytellers spoke specifically about language and reviving their language as a part of healing. McCormick (2009) agrees language is important in our people’s personal recovery. Other storytellers spoke of activities like sewing and weaving as grounding. As Ross (2014) stipulated, our people do not have to talk their way back in order to heal, they have a choice to express how they are doing by what is helpful to their healing, such as: beadwork, carving, drawing or making a collage. Some storytellers were clear that speaking about their experiences was important in order for them to let go and move forward. I think for these storytellers talking about their experiences was important in their healing but other forms of healing without words is important to note. For all the storytellers family and community were important to their continued healing. Some spoke of having a strong, healthy relationship with their spouse and all spoke of connection to their communities was important. Giving back by supporting socially, politically, spiritually and advocating for our people is within our tribal law. Heilbron and Guttman (2000) pointed out that for most people new to their Red Road this will start out as a personal healing journey but eventually they will want to include their communities. The relationship between an individual and their community clearly supports our Aboriginal worldview that interconnectedness is important, more so than just individual healing (Heilbron & Guttman, 2000). A very important factor to family and connection to community is our Elders and the responsibilities all the storytellers recognized as they are now the Elders in our communities. Elders offer advice, share knowledge and connect with the younger generation. For several of the 92 Indigenous scholars cited in this study, most made reference to Elders for their advice, knowledge and the relationship to children (Baskin, 2011; McCormick, 2009; Poonwassie & Charter, 2005; Ross, 2014). In Hart’s work (2002), Cree Elders identified children as the “meaning of life” (p. 48). My experience and understanding is Elders and children have a strong personal bond, there is an understanding both have about life as one approaches the Spirit World and the other has newly left the Spirit World – the connection is strong. Personal Perspective This research was very subjective and did come with biases. As pointed out by various Indigenous methodological scholars this type of research places the researcher at the center of the research (Absolon, 2011; Kovach, 2009; Wilson, 2008). So my personal thoughts and interpretations of the stories shared with me was important to the research process. Two of the storytellers I have known since I was a small child, and others I know through family and friends, so there was a strong connection which can bring about biases. Others storytellers I knew from the work and contributions they have made in the public eye and as helpers to our people. Indigenous methodology is subjective but I think even more so when you are doing research in your own community. One particular bias was questions I did ask for clarity from the storytellers I could have potentially steered the storytellers in a desired path that would contribute to answering my questions and become the focus of the story. I was conscious of this and did with my best effort to not direct storytellers by focusing on asking questions only for clarification or situating the storyteller. I noted with a couple of storytellers I had to ask questions throughout the storytelling to keep the story flowing and this opened the door to further risk of increased bias. To help decrease this potential I would say to storytellers that there was not a right or wrong answers to 93 telling me their story and it was more about what they felt I needed to know – trusting the process. As I used the “I” poems as a way to capture the essence of the storyteller’s story by highlight their tone of voice, possible thoughts/feelings, and actions, I know I may not get the full meaning when presented in written form. As pointed out by Archibald (2008) when the storyteller’s story goes from an oral context to a written document the meaning making of the researcher can miss tones, gestures, rhythm, and personality. I would be remiss in thinking that this factor does not also affect the meaning making of each storyteller’s story in this study. Both Cruikshank (1991) and McClellan (2001) in their research with Yukon Indigenous people have tried to retain the oral essence of the stories they researched by writing down what was said as it was originally said. One storyteller did make the comment about changing the stories and taking out her families’ names and only using “cousin”, “auntie/uncle”, “grandmother/father” leaves the reader wondering who are they talking about? Which auntie or cousin, indicating we have many family members and knowing what lineage (family trails) helps to understand and situate the person telling the story (Absolon, 2011). I believe this has to do with relationality, how do you know someone if you do not know who they are and where they come from, how do you relate to them? We are a proud people and sharing about our ancestry on a personal level helps situate who you are and how people will relate to you because they may also be your relation (Absolon, 2011). As pointed out by Roger residential school tried to erase our identity along with who our relations was, many of our people did not know who they were related to and incest occurred – there is importance to knowing and saying who we are. I feel it is important to note that storytelling of itself is healing and a few of the storytellers reflected this back to me when they completed their story. Archibald (2008) wrote 94 about the power of stories to heal and access knowledge so we also learn. Poonwassie and Charter (2005) concurred by writing that storytelling is a means of conveying several cultural values in an effective and influential way. Storytelling has importance by asserting that the capacity for combining the relationship with self and the universe. Poonwassie and Charter (2005) wrote: The synergizer uses picture words to awaken in the listeners the awareness that they have within themselves all the elements necessary for their own healing. Synergizers are also the seed bearers; they plant images in our consciousness that take root and flower (p. 20). As a counsellor I have always believed that we do plant seeds with our clients in the hopes they will one day germinate, be nurtured and given water. When I listened with my “three ears” (Archibald, 2008) to all of the storyteller’s stories each one of them planted within me seeds and food for thought and this has taken root and flowered. There was personal healing and images planted within my sub-consciousness/consciousness, and new methods for this counsellor to use with our people. For example I have begun to incorporate a metaphor I got from Ed about how he is able to take out his story from a filing cabinet talk about it and place it back in the filing cabinet without being re-traumatized. This example gives those new to their healing path a sense of how addressing their own story over time can become less painful and triggering but healing. Limitations and delimitations Indigenous methodology can be conceptualized in “we are all related” (Absolon, 2011, p. 30) which advises our holistic and relational nature to attaining knowledge. Our knowledge is holistically developed from our heart, body, mind and spirit (Absolon, 2011). Our stories are knowledge and cannot draw conclusions across various circumstances because of the uniqueness and personalization of each individual story. My goal was to convey the storytellers’ messages 95 that identified the knowledge embedded in and across the stories about their healing. The research is not without biases due to the inclusion of our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and reminiscing in the past (Kovach, 2009). Since this research was generated using an Indigenous methodology I interpreted this knowledge within my own perspective of ways of knowing (Absolon, 2011; Kovach, 2009). Trusting the process allows me to state the limitations and delimitations of this work. Due to the distance from our traditional territory, I did not have continued or regular access to the storytellers to get their feedback and guidance. Having access to an Elder on a regular basis was also not possible. The moments I had with storytellers and an Elder were only when I was actually in our traditional territory and that was during the actual story gathering and when I presented the storytellers with their written story. Archibald (2008) speaks to the importance of including and continued connection with storytellers and Elders as we conduct our research from an Indigenous methodology. Due to the small sample of storytellers for this research I was not able to get a thorough picture within this study to address all possible aspects of our people in regards to the effects of colonization and residential school. Within qualitative and narrative approaches to research my sample size is larger than the norm. This research is but a snapshot of ways our people are addressing the issues around healing from the residential school experience. Further research is clearly needed in other areas, such as second, third or fourth generation survivors. More research needs to be conducted in the North as there is very little research being done specific to Yukon Indigenous peoples based on my current literature review. This is like thinking about the button blanket I have been working on while conducting this research. I know there are so many different designs and interpretations of the button blanket by many different Westcoast tribes and 96 this is but one small contribution. Just as the button blanket continues to be developed by various Westcoast tribes this research has the potential for further development by other scholars. The research was done with a specific group of people and the sample size was small and located within a specific geographical area that may not be transferable or applicable to our people in other regions of the world. I must restate that there is a uniqueness and personalization of this research (Absolon, 2011; Kovach, 2009) that also makes it not replicable because it is not a standardized method (Wilson, 2008). One cannot walk in another person’s moccasins believing they will experience and acquire knowledge in the same way that I have in in this research. My interpretations of the knowledge within these stories are how I made meaning of and related to the knowledge. This research cannot be generalized to all of our people, although this research is open to interpretations by the people reading this document. Since this research is open to interpretation and can be cited by other scholars or the general population, I do not have control over how they choose to interpret this research. I can only hope that what I have said here is clear and succinct enough to hopefully be interpreted as it was intended by the storytellers and me. I know once a document is published people will interpret the information generally from the viewpoint of their own beliefs, thoughts, and ideas – that is the lens they are most familiar with and understand. For example when I am asked a question about Indigenous methodology I found most times the question was asked from a Western perspective, understandably since Western perspective is paramount in Canadian academic research. The concern with this type of questioning is the questions being asked usually does not fit with the topic at hand because using a question generated from a Western perspective does not fit within an Indigenous methodology. Western is linear and an Indigenous methodology is holistic in nature (Absolon, 2011; Wilson, 2008). 97 When I developed my inclusion and exclusion criteria this was done from a respectful and caring place (Archibald, 2008; Kirkness & Barnhardt, 1991; Louis, 2007). I know there would be lots I could learn from residential school survivors who were struggling with their health and wellness or who had just begun their Red Road but my concern was with re-traumatizing them. Our tribal and Creator’s law clearly indicate we are not to harm our people, we must show respect, understanding, and loving kindness. As a counsellor this law is a part of our code of ethics (Canadian Counselling & Psychotherapy Association, 2007) and these same ethics exist in our ways of knowing. An important delimitation was deciding to include Ed who asked to be a part of this research that I had initially denied due to his nation’s location. I realized that I was looking at this through colonial eyes and thoughts because I was making this decision based on colonial boundaries between Yukon and British Columbia. I am speaking specifically about Ed’s nation situated in British Columbia. When I realized what I had done, I decolonized my thoughts and actions by inviting Ed to be a part of the research thankfully he was not offended and understood when I explained what I had done. These European settler boundaries did not exist prior to colonization and I had to re-position the research and myself to show that these boundaries would not limit research done in an Indigenous methodology (Absolon, 2011) and with our people. While the research methods in this study had limitations I believe there is richness to understanding the healing journey of our people from the residential school experience in the Yukon. Providing this research through the eyes of an Indigenous methodology gives a voice to our people to say what helped them on their healing journey. This research is one starting point but opens the door to further exploration by other scholars. Further research into the unique 98 experiences and knowledge of our residential school survivors and their personal stories of healing is greatly needed. Looking forward This study confirms what other Indigenous scholars have said, that for our people healing happens from a holistic, and interconnected way (Gone, 2013; McCabe, 2008; McCormick, 2005; McCormick, 2009; Stewart, 2008). Our traditional healing methods includes everything involved with culture, we are connected to the land, animals, spirituality, universe and with each other (McCormick, 2005; Ross, 2014). As a counsellor I know that from professional experience there is a need for our people to have access to traditional healing practices. Western counselling practices can no longer ignore or side step that our traditional healing practice has legitimacy and a place in supporting our people. As the First People’s we have an inherit right to receive proper mental health support that includes respecting our ways of knowing and doing (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015). If non-Aboriginal counsellors want to support our people they need to understand our beliefs, respect them, and include them within their counselling practices. As McCormick (2009) points out most mental health providers have a very poor understanding of our cultural value, beliefs and knowledge. My professional experience is non-Aboriginal health providers use methods and practices that are euro-centric or cultural inappropriate, even in the queries (e.g., assessments, questionnaires) they conduct with our people. Some questions can be offensive and seen as disrespectful or are laced with colonial undertones. Poonwassie and Charter (2005) suggested that for non-Aboriginal counsellors to be effective with our people they must address our values, lived experience, use culturally appropriate communication, and work with our people on appropriate goals. Inclusion and active 99 participation with our people is vital to making these effective changes in counselling for our people. One of the possible clinical implications for support providers in the traditional territories of our people is about listening with their “three ears” to our stories (Archibald, 2008). Within our stories you will find imbedded our healing, this needs to be teased out by listening and learning. This may require working harder to listen, to understand, and with an open heart and mind. Our people know what healing means we have been following our laws that incorporate all aspects of how we live a good life and how we approach our ways of knowing (Ross, 2014). The current storytelling data seem to suggest an urgent and critical need for the inclusion in all aspects of our healing and we know “culture is healing”. The counselling methods and practices are too standardized and linear – one method does not fit for all. For example, family counselling assessments can no longer focus on just the “nuclear family” when administered to our people when we define family to also include extended family, friends, and community. The practical and social implications for our people are two-fold: (a) there needs to be increased training, education, and awareness within all areas when working to support our people including how our people are treated, and (b) policies and procedures within various territorial agencies need to be revised to include how our people are treated, supported, and acknowledged. Otherwise it could lead to our people continuing to experience systemic discrimination and oppression. Our people need to be included and have a voice in how these changes should come about from the beginning to the final development and revamping of these regulations, methods, policies and procedures. I discuss these implications from my personal and professional experience as an Indigenous person and counsellor. To continue to imply that we have “cultural competency” “cultural safety” or “cultural awareness” but not really know what that means and 100 how it should be incorporated within the supporting of our people has little meaning and lasting effect. For our communities in the Yukon, I know we make up a large part of the population and finding good supports within the community are few and far between, including finding counsellors that are Indigenous. Ideally it would be great if we had greater Indigenous representations among the available supports and counsellors, but this is not the case. Of our people who are in the helping field; most times they are stretched to the max and the potential for burnout is a reality. As a counsellor who has worked to support and advocate for our people I have also experienced vicarious trauma and burnout. If we are from the communities we serve, we also walk a very fine ethical line because we provide services to our own people who we see in our community on a regular basis outside our counselling office. The methodological implications for an Indigenous methodology include the following three points: First this methodology needs to be recognized as a valid and legitimate way of conducting research within any academy (Absolon, 2011; Kovach 2009), Secondly as an Indigenous scholar I echo other Indigenous scholars mentioned in this document the need for our ways of knowing and doing research within a Western Academy be accepted, acknowledged, and recognized (Absolon, 2011; Kovach, 2009; Wilson, 2008), and Thirdly the policy and procedures within the Academy needs to respect our cultural beliefs and changes must be made to valid and legitimize our Indigenous Methodology (Absolon, 2011). These changes can only happen when the academy fully opens its doors to our people and we can sit in the same space and collaborate to make these changes. Within the Constitution of Canada our people have a right to an education (Comparative Constitution Project, 2017) and based on the TRC’s Calls to Action - 94 recommendations we also have a say in what and how that education should be 101 provided (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015). We seek and want sovereignty, to be self-governing over all aspects of our lives as the First Peoples of North America (Cavalieri, 2013) and that includes our education. The significance of these stories clearly points to everything that has been discussed in this research. There is a lot of rich information that contributes to the way our storytellers have done healing for themselves without using Western counselling methods or have used a combination of both practices in their healing. What is clear is this research points to and contributes to the ever growing evidence that culture is healing and required for our people. As the research continues to come forth from other Indigenous scholars, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action, the ninety-four recommendations also echoes the need for changes within our health care system and how services are provided to our people (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015). The contribution to the field of research is the uniqueness of this research to a specific geographical area and comes from the stories of our people and how we see our healing through the three laws: natural, tribal and Creator’s. I utilized a story telling method within an Indigenous methodology to reach into our culture and ways of knowing from a subjective perspective. Our lived experiences have legitimacy in how we see our healing and they are intertwined in our stories of our history, knowledge, and culture within our traditional territories. I incorporated these laws as a way to show how the laws dictate all aspects of our lives, they are intertwined with all that we are, and all that we believe. Like the button blanket, all pieces have a meaning and a place and all are interconnected to support the entire blanket and the story that goes with the finished product. This research contribution has significance for our people in the North and implications to how we want to be supported in our continued healing. 102 The colonial ways of counselling practices are strongly rooted in Western thought and this includes the helping field. This issue continues to be an ongoing concern for our people. Change does not happen swiftly enough and for counselling practices to respond to this concern, which means Western practices need to work in collaboration with our people (McCormick, 2009) and the scientific community needs to recognize our traditional healing practices (Hovorka, 2015). The stories included in chapter four and in the appendices (see Appendix A) are intended to educate the mind and heart of counselling professionals and trainees in service of the goal to Indigenize counselling. When you practice from a scientific perspective “seeing is believing”, unlike traditional healing practices which follows “believing is seeing” (Hovorka, 2015). This problem remains unresolved in many ways for our people who want to access healing in our traditional ways because the present resources and knowledge is limited in focus. Conclusion The results of this study confirm and adds to the growing research around the healing practices of our people from the residential school experience. The focus of this study was central to the Yukon Indigenous people who attended these schools as first generation survivors. As a counsellor I wanted to explore and know what would be helpful for our people in the far north. As I searched for resources and studies particular to the north and our people there was very little published or scholarly writing done in the Yukon. This is not to say that possible independent research has been done or is happening as this research concludes. The findings are significant and important for helping our people in the Yukon. I chose this geographical location because this is where I will continue to advocate, support, and counsel our people. I hope to provide training, knowledge and experience to others in the helping field – Indigenous and non-Indigenous. I can only hope that the findings here will be significant and impactful to Aboriginal 103 and non-Aboriginal counsellors in the North in helping our people. This research can be used as a resource, as a means for change, for further research, and a learning tool to support all our people who are walking their Red Road. I wanted to plant a seed and the stories in this study does this, as stated by Poonwassie and Charter (2005): A seed-thought is the conscious impression that comes into being that liberates our mind and livens our imagination. Seed-thoughts have transformation energy because they surprise our consciousness into a new way of seeing. Storytelling is the vehicle used by synergizers [storytellers] to communicate seed-thoughts (p. 20). 104 Chapter 6 – Walking with the Storytellers (Personal Notes and Reflections) This research has been an amazing journey for me filled with an array of emotions. There were times I felt sad, happy, hurt, compassion, and caring. I experienced tearful moments, the surfacing of anger, and also laughter. As I listened with my three ears to all the stories from the storytellers my emotions came to the surface so self-care became paramount. There were times I had to put a feather on the stories and step away and do self-care. For example, I experienced anger as I read the stories of what had happened to our people in these schools and I wondered if this also happened to my brothers, sisters, and parents. My family has never spoken of the details of their experiences in these schools, nor do I need to know, but this was a trigger for me as I heard these details in the stories. At times there was laughter as the storytellers’ shared funny moments. This is because through all of this our people have not lost their sense of humour which I believe is a part of our resiliency. I have learned who I want to be as a human being and as an Indigenous counsellor to our people. This work and the research have always been heart driven. I have discovered through this research the connection and journey that we must all make with our heart and our mind. My spiritual connection has grown stronger as a result of this research experience and continues to strengthen. I feel all my relations around me and within me and I know I am never alone. The balance that I have always strived to maintain is stronger and I can feel this within and around me. It feels great! One of the things I have learned from this research is the ‘power of stories’. That is, I realized that storytelling has a healing power for our people. When I sat down for a third time to read Roger’s story there was an energy that came to and through me with a powerful message, and instantly I knew I was not alone. The message came from my late father, and the stories he shared with me as a child had prepared me to listen 105 here and now with Roger’s story. I was deeply moved and my eyes were filled with tears. In that moment I thanked my father and all my relations for I knew I was on the right path with these stories. My father used to tell me stories over and over, but I never grew tired of hearing the same stories and as I read each storyteller’s stories repeatedly this was also the outcome. I truly do believe that there are reasons that we may not know at that time for what we experience in our past, our purpose, why we are here, and why things happen as they should but only come to light further down in our journey. This comes from my own personal experiences and how I see myself on my own healing journey. I am so grateful and honoured to have had this opportunity to witness and experience the stories from all the storytellers. I have learned so much from this experience. The protocol’s women follow within our nations is so important. I found through this research I learned more about what it means to be an Indigenous woman and the responsibilities we have in this life to ourselves, our family, and community. The importance of forgiveness especially when we are treated badly by others, instead we learn to pray for these people because they do not realize or know what they are doing or saying. I learned so much more about our ways of knowing, doing, and learning as I listened to the storytellers and this has further enhanced my own knowledge. The use of metaphors by our people has always been there and through this research I learned many more. I found the metaphors inspiring and enriching, this will be reflected in how I will use them in my personal and professional endeavours. My understanding of “blood memory” was further heightened by listening to the stories and discovering when the storyteller was speaking of how we never truly forgot our traditions because we carry them within our blood. We just needed to uncover them from the residue of colonization and the residential school contaminants. 106 Throughout this entire research experience, I discovered that I was decolonizing myself and the irony in this experience was it took me attending a Western university to do this! When I initially started my educational journey at this academy I did not know why I felt uncomfortable or why I did not completely fit, something just seemed off balance. It was not until it was brought to my attention that what I was experiencing was oppression and colonial influences. Once I realized this, I questioned whether I would continue with my education because I knew this would be a difficult journey. After speaking with an Elder I was able to put this into a perspective that allowed me to continue. I also realized that nothing in my life had ever “been easy” nor was I “privileged” and I wondered why this experience would be any different. So throughout my time at the academy, I always felt like I was walking up the middle of the river as everyone else went with the river. As I faced the many challenges of being in a Western academy as an Indigenous student I found it challenging to find balance within me. The further I went down this path the more I decolonized myself by including the aspect of my indigeneity into my studies and the research albeit while feeling and experiencing resistance from the academy. The biggest challenge was using an Indigenous methodology in an academy with Western research perspectives and influences - this was like trying to make a fire using water. What I learned through all this was how resilient I was, the support I got from our Ancestors, the power of prayer, the importance of ceremony, and that nothing was going to stop me from achieving my goal. I believe I am a role model, an advocate, a survivor, and a voice for our people – this comes from my heart. 107 References Absolon, K. E. 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Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 43 (4), 282–290. 114 Appendix A – The Stories Caveat Statement: The following stories have been changed slightly to protect and retain the privacy of third party locations, names and years mentioned by the storytellers. The names and places have been replaced with “[xxxx]” and the years with “[19xx]”. The names of the storytellers were all published as each storyteller with the exceptions of one storyteller [Grandmother] signed their consent forms to allow their names to be published within this document. At the request of some storytellers the grammar and spelling were corrected within their stories, otherwise stories were left as they were told to retain the nuances and innuendos implied in the stories. All storytellers were made aware of the reason for these amendments, changes, and all storytellers understood this process. Bold and italics were used within the stories to highlight where this researcher asked clarity questions, questions, and reflections. Story 1: Roger’s Story Okay my name is Roger Ellis and I’m from the Wolf clan and I’m Northern Tutchone. My mother was born in [xxxx]. I was raised in [xxxx] for a couple of years and then we moved to [xxxx] and that’s when I was six years old when I was taken from my parent’s house in [xxxx] and taken to residential school, and we were taken over to where it used to be old tour service, it was gravel, a big yard there with a big horse truck there with racks on it and all the kids were piled on the back of it. The police came to our house and social worker and said how many kids do you have here and what ages are they? And it was only me and my sister and we were taken from our homes and we didn’t know what we did wrong, we weren’t told nothing. They just said we’re taking these kids and the police just told mom that if she interfered that she was going to go to jail. All I remember was screaming and yelling and trying to hang on to the door frames and but I was too small to fight them. So anyways we were taken over to the [xxxx] yard where they had a big horse truck there with lots of hay and horse manure all over it and we were put in the back of that truck and said we’re going to residential school and none of us knew what was going on and it was pretty horrible because a lot of kids were screaming and crying and back in 19xx there was only grave roads around here so that was from [xxxx] to the school it was all gravel road and we went down that dusty old road, and kids some of them were so scared they even peed themselves and pooed their pants, they were so scared. You know, and yet we weren’t allowed to do nothing, just stay in the back of this horse truck with racks on it. Then when we got to the residential school they lined us up in front of the school and told us these are the rules: and they pointed to the trees which were maybe two or three hundred feet from the school, all around and said those were our boundaries, we are not allowed to go into the bushes and if we did we would get a strapping. They just said I’m the principal, this is the supervisor and teachers and if you don’t listen to them, or if you talk back you’ll get a strapping. So they pretty well laid out all the rules right from day one and we were all separated - girls from on one side and boys on one side. So they took us down into the gym they call it, or playroom area and we were all told to line up and strip and we said “What?” and they threw all our clothes in the garbage, cut our hair, de-lice us, yeah chopped all our hair off and we got brush cuts right from the beginning, and then we had all these plaid clothes, we had to wear plaid pants, plaid 115 shirts and the only thing that was different was the colors. It was blue, red or white. Anyways those were the clothes we were given and that’s what we had to wear we had no choice. But we were not allowed to talk to our sisters or brothers, we were not allowed to talk to each other if we did we were strapped. We were not allowed to ask questions at all, or we got a strapping. Then they lined us up and made us count one to one hundred because there was one hundred boys, and one hundred girls in the school. My number was seventy-three. I had that number so long; I’ve had it for six or seven years. Right from day one, they did roll call every day every morning and every evening. You had to line up in a line and they did roll call and if you didn’t, if they called your number and you weren’t listening you got a strapping for that, you had to listen and if you didn’t you were strapped in front of everybody, and the sad part about it was whether you were a girl or boy, they took you in front of all of the kids, all of the girls and boys and made you drop your pants right there whether you’re a girl or boy and strapped your bum right there in front of everybody, showing everything. You know it was like oh my goodness. I knew it wasn’t right, but we were only kids and we couldn’t say anything. It was embarrassing for everybody to do this and it was pretty horrifying for the kids that were watching because they didn’t know why everybody had to do this. So they put the fear of God into everybody right from day one and onward and if you tried to ask a question you got slapped in the head, or got your ears pulled, or you hair pulled. They had this big rubber belt probably two feet long, must have been couple inches wide, and maybe half an inch thick and you got a strapping with that and if it wasn’t on your hand it was on your bum. It was pretty horrifying and scary to be there. Yeah it was pretty sad the way they treated us from day one and all the way through the years, the whole purpose was them trying to take the Indian out of us and that was the government’s ideas was to take the Indian out of us and make us white people and it was pretty sad because when I first started to eat, even my first meal there I didn’t know what cereal was, or bread because all I ate was bannock and moose meat and wild foods, wild meat and when I see that I wouldn’t touch it because I said “I don’t know what that is” and I got strapped for that and I got sent to my bed - like they had a big dormitory of bunk beds and so I got sent to bed for that because I wouldn’t eat. So a lot of us kids were pretty well starving because we didn’t know what kind of food we were eating. It was pretty horrifying and later on in the years kids were starting to talk about how the supervisors were bothering them and I didn’t know what they were talking about. They said they are touching them, and fooling around with them. But one day I went to have a shower and I walked in there and seen the supervisor with this boy in there and I was shocked, and then he grabbed me and locked the door and started fooling around with me too and then he said “You say anything and I’ll beat the crap out of you” so what do you say when you are seven or eight years old you know to an adult? “Or I’ll kill you” its words like that, you don’t ever forget. Anyways, I never said anything until when was it? I went for treatment in 19xx, like twenty years later. After I got out of the residential schools, but they were pretty well the same, we had a little more slack at the second one because we were allowed to go downtown and stuff but we had to be back at a certain time, and if we didn’t come back at a certain time then we were grounded. So that’s when we started learning to trust. So if you wanted to be trusted to be allowed to go downtown again you had to be back, that we made 116 sure of. But I never got to go home for nine years, the whole time I was in residential school at [xxxx] they just made excuses that my parents couldn’t be found, or they were drunk and they wouldn’t allow us to go home. So we either stayed at the residential school or in group homes, or other mission schools in town. So it was nine years before I finally went home and I was like fourteen years old and mom just called me little white boy because she thought I was avoiding her when I tried to explain what, and she was drinking a lot back in those days. A lot of the parents started drinking because they had no kids the village was empty of kids. A lot of them too, they never got to go home for years and nobody was told why. They just kept us there and everybody else got to go home and then we got strappings on our hands and that’s why, to this day I still got joint problems and stuff like that. They were just; they could care less you know because a lot of them weren’t even qualified teachers. A lot of them were just hired people to come and teach and all we knew was Tom, Dick, and Harry, and 1+1 is 2, simple stuff. But when we actually came to [xxxx] in 19xx that’s the first time they allowed Natives to be in with the public schools and that’s when all the fights started and racism, white people against blacks or Natives and of course I was right in there too because that’s when all my anger started coming out too because I hated white people cause they were the ones that abused us and beat us and everything. So I had a lot of hatred and anger against the churches and teachers, white people, black people because these were all supervisors’ right. So if you weren’t Native I didn’t care for you, I hated you. But any Native, my family wasn’t close to me because we weren’t together a lot but yet the boys and girls in school were like my brothers and sisters. I grew up with those people and that was sad. I was so mixed up in my head, if this ain’t my bro then why am I calling him bro? Or this girl there is my sister, I’ve known her for how many years, and then you’re telling me she’s not related to me? Yeah, it was really confusing to a lot of kids and a lot of parents never did tell their kids who was related to them, so there was a lot of incest. First cousins with first cousins, or brothers with sisters, it was sad; it was like oh my god. But thank god mom told us who was what, because I was all ready to go out with this one girl but my mom said no that’s your cousin and I said oh my god ok. And the only one that was really helpful to me over the years was my uncle. When I came home nine years later he said you’re just a little white boy now, you’re Indian he said this is what you should be doing and so he would take me out in the bush, we’d go camping or we do hunting and trapping, “this is your lifestyle” but I never knew what he was trying to get into my head. I just knew I was Native that’s all, you know I didn’t’ know nothing about my culture, my heritage, my language nothing, I just knew I was Native, then they drilled it into your head in the schools that Natives are no good for nothing, you’ll never amount to nothing, you know you’re thieves, your drunks and they drilled that into our heads and then that’s when the effects kicked in after is when I left the school. I got married in 19xx and in 19xx I lost a son and I couldn’t grieve because I didn’t know how. I wouldn’t talk about it because it hurt too much and when someone asked me about my son I would just say no forget it, I don’t want to talk about it, it was too painful but I didn’t want to show it. I didn’t know how, nothing about it and nobody taught us how to deal with grieving so here I am standing at my own son’s graveside and I wouldn’t break a tear and that was the 117 toughest thing for me to do was stand there at my son’s graveside and to hold all that pain in just to prove I was a man because they said a man never cries. It was the toughest thing for me to do and everybody was looking at me like weird, this guy is not showing any emotions and they ask me after they said “How come you didn’t cry or anything?” and I said “Why? I said “I’m a man, I said a man never cries” and they said how dumb is that, and I didn’t know what they meant and so I was like why are they telling me this? Because I had no clue what they were talking about and it’s only when I went for treatment that’s when I’d found out about all these effects that happened to me and it was like “Wow, is that what the school did to me?” That’s when I found out, then it hit me like a brick, because my counsellor asked me, he says because I went for treatment in 19xx at a First Nation run treatment centre in [xxxx] [because of a violent event involving a family member]. After that cop [following violent event] left I went into the bedroom and I started loading my gun, a bullet for him, a bullet for [his] family and the last one was for me. I was literally going to go over there and start blasting everybody away because I was so angry when I found out from that cop that they knew about it and didn’t tell us. I said how awful that was not even to warn us or tell us that this is what happened with him, but I was so mad I was literally shaking and I was just loading the gun then the oldest stepson walked in he says “Can I go hunting with you dad?” and I says “No this is one hunting trip that you can’t” and then everything just clicked in and then I just dropped the gun and said oh my god what the hell am I doing. So I said I’m just going to go over there and deal with it, and so I unloaded the gun and put it away and then I walked over to the house and that’s when I kicked open the door and I just seen him standing there and I just drove him, knocked him ass over tea kettle and his big brother was there like 6’1 or 6’2 and I said I dare you, any one of you to come near me I says “I will drop you, or I’ll drop you or I’ll kill you, one way or the other” I said either one don’t matter to me and I just started yelling I said you bunch of assholes you knew he did this prior, what kind of fricken family you guys got here? And I was so livid and that’s when one of my friends said man you need help, he said you got a lot of anger there and I said of course I do. So they said well we’ll set you up with a counselor they said and oh god he better have some answers, why this happened, you know why? I had so many like - why, why, why? So this friend of mine, he was a counsellor there and he came over and talked to me at the house there and said I will get you out asap for treatment, he says they’ll have all the answers there for you and I said they better have, because I need some answers now and he said yep he said we’ll get you asap on the plane and out of here and I said what about my kids, and he said we’ll take care of them, don’t worry. I went out for treatment and this was after the court case and the court case the guy got eight or ten years for that so I was happy and I said well it’s not long enough, but its good enough and I said I want him to get treatment while he’s in there but he never did. What his mother did behind my back after I went for treatment; went and got the lawyer, his lawyer to get it reduced to four years and he got out on good behavior so he spent like two years in jail and now he’s back out in public. We were out at the [xxxx] there once and I see him there and I said “what are you doing out here?” and he says “I’m going swimming” and I said my relative is in there because he was standing there I said if you go past me mister I said I’ll drop you, I said my relative’s in there and when they get out you can go in there but I told them at the front desk, so they went and told him to leave and of course the mother was just cussing away at me and I said you need to warn 118 people about your son, I said you’re no help whatsoever and she was just cussing me down and everything, then they left. He just looked at me and he knew I was serious, I just looked at him dead in the eyes and I just looked at him and said “I dare you” and he just went turn around. But that’s when I went for treatment and that’s when I found out about - how, because when I first went I argued with the counsellors in 19xx about why did this happen? They say are you an alcoholic? I said, “No I’m not an alcoholic, I go out and get drunk every night and go to work. What’s the problem?” Oh you don’t consider yourself an alcoholic? “No” so anyways I argued with him [counsellor] for two weeks about that. I said I came here to get answers for my relative, why this? Why that? So that counsellor he says you got a lot of anger he says, a lot of anger and hurt, he says do you want to tell me about where it comes from and I says I don’t know where it comes from. People like you, you piss me off, oh you’re blaming everybody he says and so who else is there? And he says okay I tell you what he says when you go back to your room tonight – he gave me a writing pad, eight and half by fourteen inches and he says write down what makes you angry and he says go way back into your childhood days, and my childhood days I says? Oh my god I said I can’t think that far back and he says well just think about it he says. Try and go back to your childhood days, and what makes you angry and I says you want me to do that? And he says yes I do, so I said ok, I’ll give it a shot. So I did that night and geez for a couple of hours I was tossing and turning there and what is it that made me angry and then I thought, I bet you it was the way I was treated in school, the punishments I had to do. I had to scrub stairs. Eight flights of stairs, four story high with a toothbrush. That was one of my punishments, and if it wasn’t clean enough for the supervisor I had to start all over again. I had to get between every little crack and get every dirt piece out of there. So things like that, I mentioned in that letter. When I wrote it, I don’t even remember writing what I said but right at the bottom it said I was a very scared child. That’s the last thing I wrote and I was like oh my god, that’s when it really hit me. It was like holy Christ, you know is that how bad the residential school affected me? It was like my god, because after I wrote it then I took it back to the counsellor and I says here’s that letter and it was filled and I just had enough room to squeeze it at the bottom there that I was a very scared child and anyways, he says well we got to go do our circle now and there was twelve of us in a group, women and men so and then he points at me and says now can you read your story there. Oh I was mad I said I thought this was between me and you only and oh he says I’m going to ask the group here, how many of you have been to residential school and geez five other people put their hand up and I was shocked. I was like wow really? I thought it was only in the [xxxx], I didn’t know it was all across Canada or all over the world. I said oh my god, I said really so he said how many of you have been punished and abused and all of that and all of them put their hand up again and so I said oh my god, and so I said I’m not the only one and so I didn’t feel alone there, because if I had started telling them, nobody would have understood me. So that’s why I never spoke up before. Why am I going to tell you, you won’t understand me and so I says okay now that I know that I said these people will understand where I’m coming from. I remember when I first started reading the first couple of lines I broke down and I started choking up, I couldn’t talk. I just getting a lot of chest pains and I just said I can’t do it and the counsellor says and I noticed a bunch of big pillows and cushions in the middle with a garbage can there and everything and I said what’s all that for? And he said go sit in the middle and I said why? And he says if you get angry just beat on those pillows and I said what do you mean 119 angry? He said well I can see there’s a lot of anger in you and you need to get that out. How am I going to get it out? - can’t just pull it out of me! You know I didn’t understand a lot of that stuff and that’s what was making me mad with the counsellor because I didn’t understand what he was talking about. I said quit playing games here with me, I said speak where I understand what you’re talking about. He said are you serious? I said I’m very serious, I said you’re talking like I’m dumb or something I said, like I don’t understand you what you’re talking about, because I don’t. You know when you’re saying I have a million, or a thousand faces, or hiding my feelings, or getting my feelings out, or my anger. I said I was never taught none of that in school or by my parents. I said my parents weren’t around for nine years and I lived on the streets because my parents, my mom wasn’t. We had a lot of disconnection after nine years. She called me little white boy and I was like, oh I said you’re nothing but a drunk. So I took off went and lived on the streets for two or three years. I went down to [xxxx], I went down to skid row, those were my home and I learned to survive on the streets, stealing things out of the stores and then selling it for food, that was my way of surviving. But anyways when I did that, they asked me to talk about my story so I sat in the middle of the cushions there and then I started talking and I could feel the anger and he said just let it go, just keep going. He said if you get angry just beat on those pillows and all I remember was just getting angry, and the only thing I remember was just starting to yell and curse and then I blacked out and when I came to I just had puke all over my mouth and I woke up and I was just physically drained. I was just like exhausted and like oh my god what happen, everyone was just standing there just like looking at me with big eyeballs and oh my god, what did I do? Because I just blacked out and they said you were down there for a good half an hour, beating, cussing and yelling and swearing and everything and just puking your guts out. I felt so stupid, honest to god I was just like oh my god really I said that was me and they said yep and he said how do you feel now and I said I’m just physically drained, mentally and physically and he said yeah, you’ve got a lot of garbage out and I didn’t know what they meant by garbage and I said well whatever it is, I said I actually am feeling better inside now. Then a few days later we started talking about death and then they came around and they asked everybody if they had a member or someone that passed away and a few of them were talking and it just triggered me and I don’t know how I expressed it or showed it but my counsellor just said, Roger did you lose somebody and I just looked at him I said yeah I did but I didn’t want to talk about it. He said who did you lose? I said my son, but I’m just not ready for. And he said oh? And that was fifteen years later and I said listen I don’t want to talk about it and he said well tell you what, you go and talk with an Elder so I said an Elder? And that’s the first time I knew about all this spiritual stuff and First Nations culture and that because I never had anything to do with it before. I lived on the streets most of my life and I lived in the cities. The only thing that I knew about was hunting and stuff, but it wasn’t my bag but yet my uncle always pushed it on me and now I can see why. Anyways, but after that Elder told me he says, I will give you that same full scape paper, pad and write down what you want to say to your son, well oh my god, I filled that whole page up too and so he says let’s go outside and make a fire. So we did an offer of tobacco and that for the wood and that and I says what’s that all about and he says well you got to offer, you’re using trees from Mother Earth. So anyways I was like oh okay. So that’s the first time I really started learning about these cultures and stuff and then he said can you read your story to me and we were sitting by the fire and I broke down and said “no I can’t do it” and he 120 says “well we’ll try another day then, I don’t want to force you to.” So I said ok and we just said a little prayer and he smudged me down and that and I didn’t have a clue what that was all about and he said I’m just cleansing you and I said okay. Then my counsellor when we were in the circle, he asked me to read that letter too and I was what the hell, I thought this was between me and that Elder. So he asked the group again how many lost members in the family and well Christ, eight people put their hand up, eight or nine people and I said oh my god, and he said see you’re not alone. So I said okay that’s comforting to know, so I said okay I’ll read it and he says do you want to sit on those pillows again and oh my god, not again I said. I says you can see all that anger in me yet? He says yeah I can and I said are you serious? And he said yeah I am serious that’s why I’m asking you to go sit on those cushions again. He said you got a lot of anger and hurt there, and I said I do. He said can you go sit in there and I said okay I will. So I started reading and I broke down again and he said don’t stop, just let it go. I didn’t know what he meant by letting it go and he says I said what do you mean let it go, he says just keep telling your story he says and if you feel the anger coming out just let it come out, don’t try and stop it. He said just beat on those pillows and do like you did when you told your story. So I said okay I can try that again, so I did and bang, I blacked out again and I awoke and I was exhausted again all of my face puke again, and everything and tears and I was like oh my god, I did it again and he was like “yep and then he said how do you feel now?” I said well now that I talked about it, which I never did, I feel a lot better now. He says yeah, you look good and I said really? He says yeah. So I said wow I said you can see that? And he says “yep”. So he told me he says you’re ready for that Elder now, so I said okay. I went with that Elder again and he told me so he says read your story so I did and it wasn’t so painful, but it was still painful. I broke down and cried and that but I think I got rid of all my anger there like I was beating on those pillows for about 20 minutes they said, cussing God down and everything, why did you take him? Why didn’t you take me? Oh I was pathetic, but I got it out and this was fifteen years later. Now I can talk about it today and it’s, I know he’s in a better place now and it’s a good feeling. Anyways when I went and talked to that Elder after I read my story and he said now he says you take that letter and burn it. Your son will get that letter and when I put that letter in the fire it was like whoosh, instantly it was like a ton of bricks off my shoulders. I just went whew! and that Elder looked at me and he says there that ton of bricks is gone and I looked at him, you could see that? He said I saw it. I said oh my god are you serious? He says “yep, he said you have a glow on your face now. He says you’ve got rid of all your stress, your anger, your hurt. He said your son took it all. I said wow, I couldn’t thank him enough and we smudged again and I just gave him a big hug and couldn’t thank him enough. That’s when my healing journey really started to begin then and so then I started helping others in the group. They were afraid to talk about it and I said well I’ll be right there with you and if you want me to sit beside you in the group I said sure I’ll be right there because support to me was such a big thing. I can’t stress that enough to people nowadays how important it is, even if you’re just there just with them in person not saying a word, that’s good enough for them. Little things like that, that’s where my counsellor told me support, can go such a long ways. So look at me, I supported you through this whole process, boy did you ever, I said the things you put up with me it was amazing honest to god. This guy was like 6’4”, big man- we called him our big teddy bear. 121 Anyways because when I first got there I was like, I didn’t care what size he was, you know quit speaking such stupid talk here you know that I don’t understand you, I am just going to kick you or beat the crap out of you and he was like wow, you’ve got a lot of anger. He was so patient with me, even when I threatened him. It was like going up against Goliath but yet he was a gentle bear. It was amazing this guy and I will never forget it. Last thing I heard was he went up to [xxxx] or somewhere he’s working with kids up there too now. I would love to have seen him. I went back to the treatment centre in [xxxx] like ten years later and he asked me to come out and speak there and I did, and I said this is where I was reborn, and this is where I dumped all my garbage and I said this was a new beginning for me. I says oh I can honestly say that this was where my healing journey started here back in 19xx and thanks to all these people and I was like wow, I said I just pray that you guys take this same journey as I did and can help others in the future. It was like a standing ovation and it was like wow because I was just sitting in the crowd I was just there and then one of the counsellors spotted me and well we have a special guest here now and I was sitting there looking all around, oh who and Roger Ellis and what? (Laughs) I was just shocked and like whoa, but it was good to go back there because it was like home to me, it was like coming home, I felt good, I had a good feeling about that place, and I always did. I’d highly recommend people to go there too and then a lot of them are wondering how they go about it and I just say well you go to your family doctor and get them to refer you for treatment and medical services will pay for everything- the flight down there, if you have kids they will take care of them and really? So a lot of them have done that now. Then I started working at the residential school society but then thanks to my brother [friend] who’s passed on now, but we grew up together too in residential school and we’ve drank together and everything but he went for treatment too and he was asked by a bunch of people, thirty people who went forward to do a claim against the government for abuse and they started that whole process by going to court but my brother [friend] wasn’t a counsellor then, he was just there to let people know that this process was going on that they could put a claim in too but after five years of doing it, they started in 19xx and then in 20xx he had to resign because he was a certified mechanic and he didn’t want to lose his license so he asked me, he said Roger I’ve looked all over the place, he says I couldn’t find anybody to fill my job except you and I says really? He says you’re the man to do it. I’m going to put in a recommendation that they hire you and I said oh okay, I’ll try it so he said I know you‘ll do well. I remember that first day, mom was getting sick then and I had to go for an interview and we were taking turns looking after mom at home and I forgot all about her appointment and so I said oh yeah and it was when my interview was, I totally forgot all about it and I said oh no, I missed my interview, then I got a phone call the next day and they said oh you didn’t make your interview appointment and then I said who’s this? And they said this is the residential school society and that’s where my brother [friend] was working and I says oh no, I said I totally forgot about it I says I was looking after mom, I had to take her to her doctor’s appointment and they said well would you like to re-book and I said you’re giving me a second chance and why not they said. They said we interviewed like six other people and your name was highly recommended by our coworker. I said yeah so they said can you make it tomorrow I definitely can so I said okay. So I went for the interview first thing I did was apologize for all that and I says, before we even start I would like to apologize and they said accepted. So we started 122 interviewing and they said only one person is going to be getting a phone call and the others will be getting a letter in the mail so I says okay. So they interview me and there was like three of them there and it was a good half hour interview anyways but that’s when they asked me, why are you applying for this and I said well I have started my healing journey and so I want to help others and I said that’s my life - my goal, is to help others and I said, of all ages, It doesn’t matter what color they are or whatever I said I want to help them on their healing journey, I said I’ve been there - done it. They said oh okay, and then a couple days later I get a call? How come they’re calling me? Did I get the job or not and so they’re just talking away there, how are things going? Good and I said well who got the job? And then he said oh you forgot already? I said forgot what? Only one person was going to get the call. Are you serious? I just flipped out! Awesome and then I was just so happy, I was cruising around through town and I got a speeding ticket. (Laughs) I was just like, I said what a way to start the job, but it was good. I’ve been there sixteen years with them now but I resigned recently and retired. So that’s what I’ve been doing since March and I go around I joined up with this hand games society, we do hand games. We teach it, we live it and we go around to all the schools- high schools and elementary schools teaching it and we go to the communities and we teach it, or help organize an annual hand games tournament or we do it ourselves. We organize it, play it, teach it, everything with hand games we do it. I’m the Elder rep on the society and we have ten youth, nine and eleven on there - there’s ten of us total. So anyways we’ve had that going for a few years now and it’s been very successful and we’re just getting ready for next weekends’ tournament, the annual tournament coming up at [xxxx] out at the fish camp. So that’s what we’re looking forward to it starts on August 12 to the 14th yeah so that’s going be a big one. I sit on the heritage board too there’s ten of us on that board, half First Nations and half non- First Nations and we go through First Nation council through the land claims agreement - that half First Nations members sit on any board, so that’s what we do. But I’ve been helping a lot of people. Even when I was up in [xxxx] I was helping a few people up there too it’s like younger people too, going through hard times so I’ll sit there and talk with them. When it came to stuff like that I went out of my way to be there for them because they trusted me to be there to support them so I didn’t want to break that trust. You know so I didn’t leave them until I felt comfortable that they were safe and they were okay and I just gave them my cell number and said anytime, call me. I still do a lot of that, it’s never ending but I love it. That’s me, because when I first started living on the streets and getting into fights and I didn’t care who I hurt, that wasn’t me and that’s when my counsellor when I first went to get help at the village there, one of the counsellors there he says I don’t think that’s you Roger, he says there’s like a bad person in there and I said what the hell are you talking about and he says it’s like Devil inside you that you need to get out, and I was like wow really? And that’s, so a lot of that stuff it’s twenty-six years later now, that’s how long I’ve been sober now and I’m still learning a lot. Here I am sixty-eight years old and I’m still learning but you know I love it, it’s been a great healing journey for me and I still learn a lot from my Elders, and other people and I learn to ask questions. That’s where, because a lot of the Elders say if you don’t ask how are you going to learn? And well in school we weren’t allowed to ask and they say well you’re not in school no more, and I said you’re absolutely right and so that kind of stuff I had to let go and a lot of them [survivors] said how can you talk about it? I said the more you talk about it the easier it gets, you 123 got to learn to let it go. It’s not yours, it was never yours and don’t blame yourself because you were only a kid. That’s right too I said I couldn’t stop nothing, I was only a kid. Yet I was blaming myself for all this happening and I was being hard on myself and then I believed what they told me, I was going to amount to nothing but I turned that around and I says I’m going to prove you guys different. So I went in 19xx when I was on my own, I said I’m going to prove you guys wrong, I’m going to show you how I’m going to get educated. So when I left school, I got kicked out of school in grade eleven, so then somebody, oh one of my teachers she was an awesome teacher and she told me to go over to the college, or the vocational training centre and I said what’s there and she said they have all kinds of technical trades there and she said I notice you doodling lots when you’re in school, she said you like drawing three-dimensional stuff. I said well I’m just fooling around and she said well you got talent there, she says why don’t you go to drafting she said I think you’d do well there, I said really? She said yeah if you want I’ll take you over there and I said okay sure let’s check it out. So I went over there and they said you need grade twelve to get into it and I said oh, well I don’t have grade twelve and they said well you can take upgrading to get into it, take your eleven and twelve which is a year, so I says ok, and then you can register for the drafting course, it’s a two year course so I says oh okay we’ll try it and in 19xx that’s when I took the upgrading in, 19xx I applied for the drafting course and in 19xx I actually graduated with a certificate. There were twenty-five in our class and only fifteen of us left and only three of us graduated and I was like wow, I came in second, it was like whoa my score was eighty-two percent, the one ahead of me was ninety-two percent and the guy behind me was seventy-eight percent I think and seventy-five was pass mark, it was steep. It had to be perfect or two years of teaching was shot. I was determined and I did it and I graduated. I did architect for probably ten years and I did quite a few houses, I did a few local businesses, a bunch of private houses, and duplexes so I did a lot. And these friends of mine were getting married and they were really good friends of mine so I said you guys got a house? They said no, we’re going to build one but we don’t know how to design it and stuff. So I said well sit down here and so we sat down and we drew it out, I drew it out and I said what are you looking at so they showed me what they wanted and how they wanted the outside to look and that. So I drew up those plans and I got prints made of it, I had a bunch of them rolled up and because one had to be for the engineer and one for the city guys, electricians and everything, so we had to have all those copies. So I had them all rolled up in one big bundle and I got a big ribbon tied on it then I went to their weddin
UBC Theses and Dissertations
How do Yukon Indigenous people define healing from the residential school experience? Smith, Maisie 2017
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