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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mitakuye Oyas’in : performing trauma to strength Giard, Marie Annette Monique


Mitakuye Oyas’in is a creative non-fiction addressing the root causes of presentday conditions of fifteen urban Native youth. After uncovering individual as well as collective stories of discrimination and violence through the process of personal narratives (spilaxem) and re-enactment, fifteen urban Native youth developed and conducted anti-racist and anti-bullying workshops aimed at transforming hurt into hope. This performative-intervention becomes a healing process as youth gradually take on new relational roles and perform 'a head taller' as community leaders, role models, and healers for themselves and their peers. Section One explores youth spilaxem and the co-creation of a holding environment for stories of hurt to be shared. Section Two addresses recovering emotional and physical aspects of trauma, remembering and sharing experiences and commonalities through re-enactment and video-making. Section Three provides creative ways of Performing Trauma to Strength sqilxwcut (the Indian Way) by calling the circle, and annunciating hope within a larger community, The last chapter demonstrates the efficacy of Performing Trauma to Strength as a preventative and healing intervention with youth inside and outside classrooms. Through Performing Trauma to Strength, First Nations youth in particular are offered opportunities for healing and growth as they engage in all phases of the performance project. Performing Trauma to Strength can be construed as a ritual of social integration and social justice. For people who have endured acts of violence, those who find refuge within themselves or in 'acting out' their suffering, or those who have not found a purpose for living, Mitakuye Oyas’in is an inspirational model aiming to re-ignite the fire of life and rekindle the vitality of living Seven animal-icons from the Medicine Wheel appear along the journey bringing wisdom and ancestral epistemologies. A tressage approach, where interconnectedness is paramount, includes ancestral as well as newer ways of being in the world, interweaving theory and practice (tool-and-result) in the unfolding of Performing Trauma to Strength.

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