In partnership with the Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence, NAWN (Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network, facilitated a one-day Cultural Sensitivity training to front-line service providers, post-secondary students, health and justice providers along with other governmental department and community organizations as part of the Violence Prevention Month activity and event line-up.
Setting the pace for the day, participants enjoyed a traditional opening engaging in song, smudging and opening prayer. The morning’s agenda covered information on the indigenous heritage, a history of the oppression, an awareness of the indigenous groups in our province and an overview of their history. During the afternoon, what was preconceived by the participants as a fun, interactive activity, soon turned emotional as, the Blanket Exercise, gave life to the challenges of the indigenous people and how they suffered at the hands of the “white” people and how resiliency is a huge part of their culture and proud heritage.
Four narrators told the story of a once-happy people who were emotional and physically beat down, drove from their homelands, killed off by deadly infectious diseases and had their families torn apart as their children were “scooped” from them during the ‘Sixties Scoop.” For many, self-identified, indigenous people in the room, the interactive Blanket Exercise slowly gave an emotional indication of the plight and suffering of their ancestors. As many tried to form their thoughts and feelings into words, raw emotions were evident. Words such as embarrassment, anger, heart-break and speechless were among those used to describe the feelings following the activity.
Coming together in union, hand-in-hand the participants, following an emotional day, swayed and joined in song and prayer as the day’s training came to an end with many a promise to continue educating and advocating for respect for all people. As Kofi Annan said, “We may have different religions, different languages, different colors of skin, but we all belong to one human race.”
Remember, during Violence Prevention Month, and every other month, be kind to each other; don’t judge until you have walked a mile in their shoes.
Another session will be held on Thursday, March 7, 2019. For more information contact 643-4563.