Last week Linda and I were invited to attend supper and a meeting for the men and women who attend the program offered by the “Warriors Against Violence” Society. The meal was followed by a very powerful sharing circle. The participants all had different journeys that they shared, and they also talked about the impact that intergenerational Residential School trauma had on each one of them. The stories were a recounting of tremendous loss – loss of who they were as people; loss of their children; and loss of self through drugs, alcohol, jail time, or a combination of all of them.
The sense of disempowerment these men and women felt from the system attempting to serve and help them, led to the drastic consequences they shared with us. We heard how the loss of family, children, and friends all becomes one guiding lead to their disappointments. Underlying all of those losses, was the loss of identity as a person and as an Indigenous person in particular.
The stories we heard are common to many Indigenous people who are hurting and have lost their self-identity. Not many people can grow if they have no family connections. The participants all talked about those feelings. The three Elder leaders talked about their own experiences of domestic violence, and the scars left on their children. This gave the people in the circle a sense of trust, and therefore they were able to talk about their own emotional pain.
Both Linda and I felt strong emotions about how much people suffer today, walking among us and trying to make sense of their pain and the tragic circumstances of their lives. This was just one small look at how people survive.
We were encouraged though, to hear from some participants who had been attending the program for a while, and they were managing to make positive changes to their lives. The main thing that came out for me was the immense amount of work done by the handful of individuals who are working for ‘Warriors Against Violence’ Society' and wanting folks to walk the Red Road again.
“Walking the Red Road is a determined act of living within the Creator’s instructions. Basically, it is living a life of truth, humbleness, respect, friendship, and spiritually. Those on this road are by no means walking a perfect path, but are in search of self-discovery and instructions. While there is much more information and teachings about a life on the Red Road, a more complete understanding would come from our Native American elders and leaders, who themselves have traveled this path for a while.” (David A Patterson Silver Wolf, Washington University in St Louis, Brown School)
To watch a CBC story on 'Warriors Against Violence' Society, please follow this link ‘Warriors Against Violence tries to heal Aboriginal men’, Duncan McCue, CBC News.
We all have something to learn about relationships, including myself, and how to be kind and gentle to the people in our lives. I thank my partner, Linda. She is a brave woman who made me move into so many more new directions in my own healing. Life-Givers are strong people!