Recognize, Understand and Connect to Childhood Loss
The devastating impact of Residential Schools (Canada) and Boarding Schools (USA), has been front and center in the public view for many years now. The incredible pain and the effects from this era are still being felt throughout Indigenous communities across North America. Just prior to Christmas, Rick and Linda Martin (My People staff) and Jim and Jan Uttley (IP Communications) took part in an event that sought to bring healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation to former survivors of Residential Schools as well as Indigenous people presently experiencing childhood sexual abuse. Rick led worship and Linda was a workshop facilitator. As facilitator, Linda shared about the trauma factors affecting survivors—the effects of betrayal, shame, the sense of powerlessness, and traumatic sexual abuse.
“Survivors need to feel safe and be able to trust,” said Linda. “They need to feel that they are somewhat in control. We need to feel that we have value and then we can value others.” She encouraged those who attended to “tell and retell your story over and over again to a safe person.”
Women and men took part in separate sharing circles following three of the main sessions. “As a survivor of childhood abuse, these circles gave me and other survivors a chance to ‘unburden our souls’—some for the very first time,” stated Jim Uttley. “Raw emotion poured out as some Indigenous elders wept when recounting episodes of brutal abuse by school officials or family members.”
These sessions gave people a chance to deal with unresolved trauma—an experience that severely jars minds and emotions.
The worship band offered opening and closing concerts. “Music has a way of giving hope,” stated one survivor, “soothing hurting spirits, and encouraging us not to give up hope.”