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On April 28 and May 12, 2020 the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre held an online trauma informed workshop via zoom to discuss shared history of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples in our communities, and to help community members process trauma and the challenges of COVID-19.

These online workshops concludes the Reconciliation Circles Project, a partnership between UBCM, Town of Smithers, Witset First Nation and the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society. The project was designed to bring Indigenous and Non-Indigenous community members together to learn from each other through person-to-person dialogue. In February the Friendship Centre hosted over 60 people at our Cultural Centre.

“We still had some activities planned for this project, however, COVID-19 made it impossible for us to gather again,” said Lydia Howard, Housing Advisor and Economic Development Officer at the Friendship Centre. “We saw the real need for people to come together in dialogue and do some trauma informed work. I think many of the participants found it very grounding during such a stressful time.”

The online workshops were facilitated on by local Indigenous Trauma Informed Practitioner Sandra Harris via Zoom.  Sandra Harris led over 25 participants through a workshop exploring:

  • Creating a Collective Agreement: How to have courageous conversations in a safe way through the creation of a collective agreement.
  • Truth: Exploring truths and harms done through stories and exploration of ‘shadow place’ with a focus on history of pandemics for Indigenous people in our communities.
  • Recognition: Indigenous, land-based framework for understanding recognition of history and the harms inflicted upon Indigenous peoples and culture in this community.
  • Our history is carried with us: The impact of harms due to colonization and oppression on our families felt in our communities today.
  • Practical tools for wellness, healing and remaining grounded during the ‘big stress’ of the pandemic.

In addition to the workshop, follow up sessions and an additional follow up workshop was available to participants.

Below participants share what they found valuable about the workshops:

Some of the valuable concepts Sandra shared related to the importance of connectedness and kinship, grounding and mindfulness to be fully in the present, looking out for each other, and the fact that stress tells us that something needs to change.”

​I learned the importance of eating for good mental health….I never knew anything about the value of bone broth before!   I liked her suggestions of getting out of the stress-reactive space by going outside and listening to the sounds of nature. Forest bathing was a new term.”

“A fuller understanding on the culture of the Wet’suwet’en.”

“A re-affirmation of how a person’s wellness is connected to one’s body, mind and the world around us.”

“Sandra has a very compassionate way of sharing important information and strategies/tools that are good for everyone to learn.  She values the idea of “two-eyed seeing” which seems to be the key to reconciliation.