• Section B - In recognition of the fact that having information and knowledge about what sorts of healing are needed in no way assures that communities will take the required actions. In this section we will propose specific strategies for stimulating or supporting positive action toward community healing.
• Section C - This section will broadly outline the human resource development initiatives (i.e. training and capacity building) and related lines of action we believe will be essential initiatives prerequisites to success for implementing a kind of social security system in Aboriginal communities that actually promotes community healing and development rather than enabling and supporting present conditions
• Section D - This section presents a summary of the key points and of the fourteen recommendations made in the rest of the document.
The word "healing" usually implies that someone is hurt or sick, and that a process for restoring well-being is needed. We know from the oral histories and tribal memories of many Canadian indigenous people that there was a time when the vast majority of Aboriginal people across North America lived in relative peace and harmony with their neighbours and enjoyed tremendous strength, vitality and general well-being.
Restoring well-being means more than simply getting back to square one. It must also mean recreating a pattern of living through which Aboriginal people can develop their potential as human beings and pursue optimum well-being in all aspects of life.
In Part I, we presented a framework for thinking about community healing that is rooted in the following strategic definition: healing is the process of removing barriers and building the capacity of people to address the determinants of health. This definition moves away from the idea that healing is simply a matter of fixing what was broken, and embraces the more positive and developmental perspective that "healing" is therefore the work of moving individuals, families, communities and nations into a state of optimum well-being and prosperity. That process certainly does involve resolving the hurts and dysfunctions that are crippling so many Aboriginal communities, but it moves on from there to say that nothing short of transforming the very foundations of a healthy life (i.e. the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, political, economic, social and cultural determinants of health) will "secure" sustainable well-being.
Such an enterprise really means the transformation of the entire web of life within which people are now living. Single issue program solutions, such as alcohol prevention or employment training, will never work in isolation. Everything is connected to everything else. In other words, addressing individual trauma is inseparable from addressing economic stagnation. Poverty is inseparable from community addictions, youth in crisis and broken families. It also means that community restoration cannot happen without political openness in which every person in the community can influence the course of social and economic development and is encouraged and assisted to do so. And it means understanding that community healing processes will always self-destruct unless they are rooted in love and animated by the Spirit of Life. Securing well-being for all will require a shift in the way most Aboriginal community programs are conceptualized, funded and implemented away from the disintegrated, professional, discipline-driven service delivery approach to a much more community-driven and holistic way of working that sees the community and its people as one integrative and organic system.
In Part II we described specific healing challenges and in Part III we described, in some detail, various models and approaches from around the world that have proven effective in dealing with such issues as addictions, abuse, loss, trauma, co-dependence and other kinds of personal and community dysfunction.
In this section, we will pull all this information together and briefly outline the essential elements that we believe are generic to any processes of community healing. Our intention is certainly not to offer a one-size-fits-all recipe. These elements will all need to be adapted and incorporated into internally driven process within the life of each community that undertakes a healing journey.
FIVE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS:
The following five elements will be present in some way in every authentic community healing process.
The word sanctuary means a safe place, a refuge that is respected and protected because it is held sacred. In community healing processes, the need for sanctuary takes several forms. Individuals need the refuge of a loving and a trustworthy group of people who will listen with an open heart and provide both unconditional acceptance and honest feedback as the person struggles to re-orient their inner and outer lives to wellness. Individuals seeking healing desperately need protection from further abuse and re-traumatization, an opportunity to share their story and to discharge strong feelings of shame and pain associated with experiences from the past as well as stable role models or reference points of wellness against which they can measure their progress on their healing journey.
Communities in recovery also need sanctuary. Most Aboriginal communities
suffering from the full range of traumatization, loss, abuse, addiction and co-dependency are not particularly safe and pleasant social environments to live within. Indeed, many community people compare them to war zones, filled with backbiting, criticism, lies, personal attacks, accusations, power struggles, retaliation and a wide range of abuse ranging from the abuse of children and women within families to the abuse of rank and power at the highest levels of the political and economic pyramid. Healing a whole community system means shifting the collective patterns of behaviour (personal, political, economic, social, cultural, religious, etc.) so that they produce well-being and prosperity rather than misery, suffering and death.
In order to make this shift, a group of people within the larger community pattern will have to create a sanctuary - a refuge place - within which it is safe to dream, to envision a healthy future, to strategically critique current conditions and community relationships and to proceed to build the positive alternative. Within such a community sanctuary, it must be possible to do personal healing work, but also to move beyond the personal level to the work of creating a post-trauma self (i.e. identity, purpose, boundaries, moral framework) that can eventually grow to include everyone in a transformed and healthy community.
The primary function of the community sanctuary is to create a seed crystal of change; a small living model of the healthy community being created. This sanctuary within the dysfunction and hurt of the larger community gradually begins to build a new pattern of life. It generates economic opportunities; it creates mechanisms for community participation in shaping and directing social and economic development processes, it provides healing and learning opportunities for all who want to enter into the new pattern, it promotes a new more life-sustaining morality and self-discipline, and it serves as an educator of the whole community system by modeling what needs to occur. Its power is the power of unity, of love and of attraction. It wins others to the new pattern because it demonstrates new possibilities rather than preaching, pressuring or attempting to force others to change, and in time, it succeeds in winning most people over because everyone can clearly see that well-being and prosperity are better than disease, misery and hopelessness.
We recommend two specific strategies for creating sanctuary in community healing processes:
a) Establishing and Developing Healing Centres - By healing centres, we mean special retreat centres or camps in or near the community dedicated to the work of helping people to do both their personal healing work and the work of rebuilding the community. We realize that there already is a small network of treatment centres across Canada which are either operated by Aboriginal people or which are oriented to serving Aboriginal populations. What we are proposing expands the concept of treatment centres in several important ways
b)Fostering and Nurturing Core Groups - A core group is a small circle of people who meet regularly to do healing and development-related work. Their aim is to become a refuge and support for those seeking to heal, as well as an incubator of community development. Core groups can specialize their focus on particular problems and issues (youth, women’s development, community economic development, cultural realization, etc.) or they can function as integrated generalists, touching on many issues that affect human well-being. Very active community healing processes may well build many core groups working within the network of people and organizations striving to bring health to the community. What is critical is not that everyone does the same work in the same way. Indeed, the more diversity of approaches there are, the stronger (potentially) will be the integrative outcomes. What is important is that all the core groups operate with principles and values that harmonize with the basic requirements for human and community development. Fostering and nurturing core group development often requires a great deal of consistent, skilled, and sensitive facilitation and capacity-building work over a period of months or even years before significant results are seen that impact the whole community. Nevertheless, we know of no more effective strategy for building sustainable community movement than by fostering core group development.
c) Community Sexual Abuse Intervention Teams - Many Aboriginal communities are dealing with massive levels of sexual abuse. A tension often exists between these communities and the Canadian legal system. The law requires that all suspected cases of child sexual abuse be reported and prosecuted. Canadian society tends to want to push sexual abusers into prisons as quickly as possible. Aboriginal communities, on the other hand, tend to see the problem of abuse as an imbalance or a sickness in the person, the family, and the community. A sickness calls for healing, not jailing. Healing is needed most of all for victims, but also for the victim’s family, the abuser and his (or her) family, and for past victims of abuse who have carried their hurt hidden inside of them for many years. The challenge for Aboriginal communities is to develop a strategy for dealing with sexual abuse that balances the needs of everyone involved in the situation for protection, healing, justice, and the restoration of healthy human relations. The community’s own culturally based understanding of how to do this should provide a framework for building a program.
If Aboriginal communities knew how to find their own way out of the tangled web of addiction, dependency, dysfunction and hurt they are now experiencing, they would have long ago done so. In the process of individual healing, people often need to enter into a working relationship with a counsellor or some kind of therapeutic mentor. This is especially true if individuals have been severely traumatized. The role of a therapeutic or mentoring relationship can be summarized as follows:
• To model healthy attitudes, value and behaviours.
• To help to manage the process of healing both because the mentor understands the various stages and requirements for growth and because traumatized people are often unable to manage their own healing process until they have "detoxified" from the hurts of the past and learned new patterns of response and interaction.
• To serve as a mirror; i.e. to help people see their own patterns, to break through denial, and to learn to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy responses.
• To ensure that the healing process itself doesn’t re-traumatize the person, reinforce negative thinking patterns and behaviours, or create further dependency rather than moving the person toward self-reliant well-being.
Two kinds of leadership are needed; namely, a) healing leadership from within, and b) outside coaching and mentoring. Within many Aboriginal communities, there already exists a significant number of individuals who have begun their own healing journey. Some of those are already reaching out to others. Some are spiritual leaders and elders who gladly give of themselves and who share the wisdom and knowledge they have been given on their own journey. Very often, the healing leadership of a community is marginalized in terms of political and economic power. And yet, when this leadership, along with those people who have begun their own healing journey, band together and work with intention and clarity to create a community sanctuary, the results can be remarkable. Indeed, the story of Alkali Lake describes one such process.
Yet, despite the remarkable courage, leadership and determination that come from within the community, Alkali Lake people also learned a great deal from outside helpers, coaches and mentors. In our review of community change processes and models, we could not find a single transformational process anywhere on earth that was not either stimulated or in some way supported and aided by outside helpers. Most often, successful change processes seem to be midwifed and mentored over an extended period of time (usually at least five years) by a group of competent, caring, and consistent outside resource providers. This group usually plays a key role in the community learning process that is parallel to that played by therapeutic mentors and guides on the individual healing journey. Following is a brief summary of that role:
b) To help community leadership and institutions learn how to translate the vision into action through a process of capacity building, continuous improvement and self-assessment.
c) To hold a mirror up, which in effect calls the community and its institutions to account regarding the extent to which its current patterns of thinking and action are leading to the realization of the vision.
d) To facilitate the development of a sanctuary (i.e. a holding environment) within which healing can take place, new relationships can be established and learned, and new directions for community life can be imagined, designed, tested and evaluated.
e) To role-model and facilitate ways of dealing with conflict that draw out the differences and allow them to actually meet and dialogue in safety so that the unity in diversity of true community can emerge, and no voices are disrespected or silenced.
f) To link the community to resources such as money, effective models and strategies, human resources and allies.
g) To remain detached from the political fray, to refrain from taking sides in community conflicts, to provide an impeccable role model of moral integrity and to be dedicated only to the promotion of community betterment through the entire process.
Because such groups are not easy to find, and because it is important that communities have fairly continuous access to their source, we recommend that Community Capacity-Building teams be established in or near all large communities and shared regionally in smaller and more remote areas.
Second, we recommend that particular attention be paid to training, mentoring and supporting leadership that is oriented to healing and community development. More specifically, we recommend the establishment of Regional Aboriginal Leadership Academies that provide ongoing capacity-building programs to a wide variety of community leaders including political leaders, healing leaders, women, and leaders of community voluntary organizations.
3. Telling the Story
Individuals who have experienced profound loss, abuse or other kinds of trauma need to acknowledge the hurt they have experienced to themselves and be heard and supported by others as they discharge feelings such as grief, shame, anger or despair. Often people need to tell the story of what happened to them over and over again in order to push past the denial and move on to re-framing (i.e. giving new meaning, new understanding to the events of the past to allow the person to move on to rebuilding their lives). In order to be able to tell their story, people need to feel safe. That is why the establishment of a sanctuary in the form of a therapeutic or mentoring relationship, support group or some other holding environment is so important.
Communities also need to tell their story. The American community development specialist John McKnight once quipped that institutions and governments learn from studies; communities learn from stories. A community story is a combination of several levels of storytelling. On one level, it is many individual and family stories that appear to comprise a coherent narrative when viewed at some distance (like the thousands of micro-dots that combine to make up the picture on a television screen). Upon close examination however, "the big picture" disappears and there are only many separate stories happening in the same social space. From that perspective, it could be said that there is no "community" story. These are only dots. Yet on another level, the social space itself is a shaper of those individual stories. And when communities are assisted to tell their collective story, a very important part of the healing process begins involving the following elements.
b) Looking deeply and honestly at the reality of the community's present, the people's story is much more than a recounting of the past. The past is always "seen" through the interpretive lens of the present reality, so it is important to consciously tell what is happening now. In this way several important shifts can occur.
c) A third element of community story relates to the future. Research has shown that whole communities and nations of peoples are profoundly influenced in the present by the future they believe themselves to be entering into. In other words, our present social reality is organized and aligned according to values, practices and ways of thinking that will create the future we have imagined for ourselves. In most communities, this process is relatively unconscious. The process of telling the communities' story will reveal the imagined futures that are influencing present conditions. Transforming the image of the future that a community shares so that it is life preserving and sustainable is an important aspect of the continuity story process.
d) Finally, people's stories are like a script that is acted out on a stage. For example, if a person's story is a variation on the following, they will usually live it out faithfully: "I am an alcoholic. My mother and father and uncles and everybody before me were also alcoholics. Now, all my friends and people I associate with are alcoholics. Maybe our people were not always this way but we are now. That's the way it is. Nothing anyone can do will ever change it, so why try."
Similarly, communities have a shared story that is collectively and unconsciously acted out. Facilitating a process of a bringing people together to surface the communities story and to "rewrite it" so that the community can begin to live a wellness and prosperity story rather than a dependency and disability story.
We recommend that a participatory action research process (PAR) be undertaken in all communities on a healing journey in order to assist the community story to emerge and to be consciously transformed. Our own version of this process is called the "Community Story Framework", and a description of it is provided in Appendix A.
4. Learning New Relationships and Building Capacity for a New Life
It is not enough to develop a vision of a healthy community. Indeed, most vision statements are like most New Year's resolutions. Unless people (and community institutions) learn new habits of thinking and acting that will lead to the new vision, things will go on as before no matter what the "vision" says.
Four important kinds of learning are needed in community healing processes:
b) Rediscovery - The rediscovery of healthy patterns of living, known to the community in its past can provide valuable models and solutions for solving the problems of today.
c) Re-patterning - Not only
individuals, but also families and community organizations
and institutions need to learn new values and patterns of operation that move beyond the "war-zone" mentality so common to dysfunctional community life. This kind of learning requires a mutual effort to heal wounds, to negotiate new relationships and to identify and to learn new, more constructive ways of working together for the benefit of everyone.
d) Capacity-building - Capacity-building
really means learning to do what is required for success in any endeavour.
This can involve changing ways of thinking, habits of pered.
New educational approaches are needed that are animated by life-sustaining values, that are rooted in traditional wisdom, that address the whole person (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual), that employ processes of learning as a natural part of the healing and development work, and that are oriented to making practical improvements in the quality of everyday life.
Many of the top "Fortune 500" corporations now have universities or colleges in-house, largely because they cannot get the kind of education and training they need from the established institutions. We recommend that communities in recovery do much the same thing; i.e. that as a part of the social security program net, community-based learning centres, colleges or academies be set up that are capable of tailor-making learning programs to community needs and also capable of anchoring learning in the actual processes of community recovery and development
We also recommend that communities involved in a community healing process make a formal learning plan which describes how people are going to learn to think and to act in new ways that will lead to new levels of wellness and prosperity.
5. Building New Patterns of Life
A very critical aspect of the community healing process is to move beyond healing from the past to the life-long task of building and maintaining a healthy present and a sustainable future. Essentially, this means systematically addressing the fourteen determinants of health outlined in Part I of this document both as distinct lines of action and as an integrated system.
Building new patterns of life can mean many things, including establishing a safe and reliable water supply; training young girls and boys to be good parents; creating viable economic opportunities, access to credit and jobs for young people; opening up the political life so that everyone has a real voice in shaping community governance and social and economic development; utilizing cultural resources such as elders, ceremonies and traditional knowledge to deal with young offenders; creating healthy recreational opportunities for children, youth and families--all of these are examples of building new community patterns of healthy living.
Often this step involves creating or building infrastructure programs and opportunities that were not there before, or that were there but needed to be changed because the old pattern was unhealthy. Building a new pattern of life means moving beyond a focus on dealing with what is wrong, to a commitment to build what would be right.
In this regard, we are convinced that an increased focus is needed on the relationship between healing and sustainable economic development. We note that Aboriginal communities in isolation are most often economically weak and dependent. For this reason, we recommend that, in connection to Aboriginal social security reform, special emphasis be placed on rebuilding an international indigenous peoples’ economic network, which would (in modern times) facilitate the tax-free flow of goods and services across many borders and jurisdictions and provide Aboriginal enterprizes of every kind with a distinct "Aboriginal advantage" when buying or selling goods or services.
B. Moving from Talk to Action
One of the most common obstacles to progress in community health development is moving from talk to action. Community agencies and leadership, as well as the majority of community members, have tended to talk a great deal more than they act in addressing critical health issues in Aboriginal communities. In this section we will propose the adoption of a combination of several strategies which have proven to be effective in the international arena in assisting nations and communities to take important steps leading to human betterment. The specific proposal we will make involves securing agreement between a wide range of stakeholders on a universal standard of rights and responsibilities as well as a code of conduct relative to making progress on an important issue. We will also propose the creation of a special fund to encourage and assist communities to do the work that is required.
Examples of this approach include the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which was signed in 1948 and is now used as an international standard of civilization and progress around the world; the Alma Ata Declaration for Primary Health Care which was signed by all the member states of the World Health Organization in 1978 and which committed national governments to a determined effort to improve health in their countries, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable such a children; and the recently negotiated (1997) international agreement to eliminate the land mines which have killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, many of them children, around the world in areas where wars had been fought and land mines left behind.
Three of these initiatives essentially call nations and community people to higher
ground and to specific behaviors needed to make progress in an important area of human concern. The fourth describes a strategy for initiating and safeguarding the healing process in communities in which those in power refuse access to resources and a voice in shaping the community’s future to those who want to move their own lives toward wellness. The specific initiatives we propose are:
2. an Aboriginal Healing Accord,
3. an Aboriginal Community Healing Fund, and
4. human and community development societies.
Contrary to common belief, social bodies, governments and communities do not create human rights through dialogue and agreement. As Aboriginal elders have been telling us for generations, who we are as human beings comes from the Creator. The qualities, virtues, and capacities given to us by the Creator were given to all people, regardless of race, creed or nation.
When members of a community collectively realize that the gift of life comes with certain requirements for its maintenance and responsibilities (to self, to each other, to the earth, and to the Creator) and that failure to meet those requirements or to carry out those responsibilities leads inevitably to dis-ease in the human condition, they can then mutually commit to a plan for ensuring that the gift of life is honoured and well cared for within that community.
When looked at in this way, a "human right" is really a basic requirement for protecting and maintaining human well-being and ensuring that the conditions required for the full development of human potential are provided. In this context, the term "responsibilities" refers to the duties individuals have to themselves, their families and their communities in order to do their part to ensure that human well-being is protected and human potential is nurtured. If either the individual or the community fail to do their part, the consequences can be extremely serious, sometimes affecting large numbers of innocent people.
The concept of an Aboriginal Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is basically a strategy through which Aboriginal communities can hold themselves accountable for protecting and promoting the basic requirements for human well-being. In order for communities to protect and promote those requirements, they have to know what they are. The Charter would initially serve as a consciousness-raising tool. It would also serve as a tool through which individuals or groups within communities could work for positive change by comparing their own conditions, goals and programs to a universal agreed-upon standard.
Following are a few examples of the rights and responsibilities that could be included in such a charter:
b) It is the responsibility of communities, governments and their agencies to provide opportunities and resources which will allow each person to pursue their own healing journey and to develop their potential as a human being and as a contributing member of society.
c) It is the right and responsibility of individuals, their governments and their agencies to work together to change community conditions that are undermining human well-being.
d) It is the right and responsibility of individuals and their governments to work together to transform community institutions and programs so that they are better able to support and enhance the well-being of all within the community.
The process of developing an Aboriginal Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities would need to occur through a broad-based national consultation involving all Aboriginal communities. We envision that the process of consultation would itself be a catalyst for movement toward well-being across the country if it were skillfully facilitated. We imagine the Assembly of First Nations, along with other national Aboriginal groups providing leadership, and we suggest that a national Aboriginal Human Rights Conference be organized to finalize the Charter. Following this there could be a ratification vote by the chiefs of the AFN and the leadership of other organizations.
We propose two mechanisms for using the Charter as a tool for promoting human well-being at the community level. First, an extensive education campaign could be carried out through schools, churches, and Aboriginal media. Second, an Aboriginal Human Rights Commission could be established, empowered to play the role of ombudsman when individuals or communities feel that their rights or responsibilities under the Charter have been compromised.
2. An Aboriginal Healing Accord
The proposed Aboriginal Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is a strategy to call nations and whole communities to higher ground. Our second proposal, an Aboriginal Healing Accord, describes a mechanism that would complement the Charter, but would penetrate to the level of individuals and households within communities and would much more specifically address the issue of healing.
As we envision it, an Aboriginal Healing Accord would be like a treaty (i.e. an agreement) which would be developed by a wide range of Aboriginal people across the country and which would set goals, strategies and a code of conduct to be followed by all who sign the agreement. Within communities we envision a similar process of consultation that begins with the national accord as a model, but which develops local versions that are specific to that community's realities and needs.
A First Nation community that signed the national Accord would commit themselves to (among other things) facilitating a process leading to the development of a local Accord. Elements that would be in the Accord included the following.
b) Identification of and a statement of ownership and responsibility for key problems and challenges.
c) Strategies for action for individuals, families, clan, groups and organizations, tribal entities, institutions, leadership, the whole community and the nation.
d) A code of conduct the signers agree to live by in order to bring wellness to the community.
Step One - Hold a series of meetings in family homes, churches and with other community groups. The purpose of these meetings would be to engage the minds and hearts of the people in a community-wide dialogue about healing and about the Accord. Through this process, everyone would come to understand what developing and signing an Accord would really mean for the people of the community . This step would take many weeks and even months of hard work. The entire process will fail if it is rushed. The point of the exercise is not to produce a document, but rather to produce understanding, agreement and commitment in the hearts of the people. Endorsement of and support for the Accord by tribal leadership will be of enormous importance at this stage, particularly if community leaders are in the front lines in leading consultations with the community about the Accord.
Step Two - Hold a Healing Accord General Assembly to discuss and ratify the Accord.
Step Three - Hold a spiritually energized commitment ceremony, in which individuals and tribal entities publicly commit themselves to the Accord and to the Code of Conduct it contains.
The following are a few example of content that might be included in such an Accord:
b) Families could commit themselves to maintaining an alcohol-and-drug-free environment; to ending all forms of abuse within the family; to actively seeking help if the family is unable to overcome unhealthy patterns; to creating a loving, spiritually centered and nurturing environment for all of their members; and to reaching out to help other families and individuals on their healing journey.
c) Community Leadership could commit to a process of healing in order to serve as role model examples for others, free from alcohol and drugs and all forms of abuse. Leadership could also commit to actively involving themselves in and personally supporting the community's healing efforts.
d) Community Institutions and Government could commit to creating healthy organizations and work places, free of co-dependence and dysfunctional behavior and actively role-modeling healthy human relationships. They could also commit to providing financial and human resources in active support of the healing process. Finally, they could commit to transforming the way community governance and programming is conceptualized and implemented to a system that is more holistic, integrative, participatory, and committed to the continuous improvement of the quality of life of the people in a true partnership to ensure that authentic community healing leading to measurable improvements in levels of well-being and prosperity are occurring.
Unless the process of developing an accord is followed up by real healing opportunities and options for people, it will be an exercise that begins in hope and dreams and ends in words. Furthermore, we recognize that governments and institutions often need incentives to induce real change and always need flexible resources to enable them to create options and opportunities that really fit local circumstances.
We have already recommended in section A above a number of resources and mechanisms to support community healing, including local and regional healing centres, local or regional technical assistance and capacity-building teams and an Aboriginal leadership academy. These and other related initiatives cannot succeed without sustainable funding.
We therefore recommend the establishment of an Aboriginal Community Healing Fund to be operated as an integral component of a reformed social security system. In considering how such a fund would be different from funding now provided under current program structures, we are moved to further recommend the following.
4. Human and
Community Development Societies
In some Aboriginal communities there are a significant number of people who are
already moving their lives toward wellness. Many others are ready to move, but the lack of resources and opportunities made available for the healing work by those in power severely hampers their progress. In these communities, much of the leadership and government services are either in denial and blind to the need for community healing, or else are actively engaged in blocking it.
In these communities, a strategy is needed for creating a seed-crystal of change in the community. If the government system is unable to facilitate the process, then we propose that it is necessary to create and support a voluntary sector (i.e. civil society) initiative.
For these kinds of situations, we recommend the formation of human and community development societies. These would be non-profit, non-government organizations that are legally incorporated and empowered to carry out the aims of the society, which would focus on the active promotion of the community healing process within a particular community (or group of communities).
These groups would be empowered to receive monies from the healing fund and other sources and would operate within the community independently of government services and programs but in full cooperation with them. Its goals and activities would be strictly non-partisan, and oriented to the healing and development work.
In addition to carrying on a wide variety of healing and community development initiatives, the societies could also establish their own healing and self-development funds in the form of an RRSP-like account held in trust for society members and dedicated to funding the life-improvement processes (such as healing costs, housing improvements, education and training, business start-up, etc.) that members require on their journey toward wellness. This local healing and self-development fund could also receive monies paid in reparation for residential school abuse experienced by members, and could ensure that these monies would be translated into sustainable human and community development processes.
We further propose that (in these extreme cases) the societies be empowered to receive a just portion of the per capita monies allocated to the bands directly from the federal government and private corporations for each of the society’s members who sign a request for the transfer of those funds. The basic idea behind this proposal is that monies are already being allocated to the bands that should be used for social development and healing, but that money cannot now be accessed by the society’s members. What we are proposing would provide a legal means for them to opt out of the band program system and to use the money they receive to collectively build alternative programs.
C. Human Resources Development
We have been very careful throughout this study to underscore the importance of building human capacity at every level of Aboriginal society to carry out the community healing work. Indeed it is our view that capacity-building must be the cornerstone of Aboriginal social security reform. Nevertheless, attempting to present a comprehensive list of human resource development needs related to community healing and Aboriginal social security reform would be well beyond the scope of this study.
In an earlier section we recommended that a "community learning plan" should be developed as part of the local healing process. The point of that recommendation is to ensure that the learning needed to shift thinking and behaviour across the entire spectrum of community life towards healthier patterns of living is planned for and implemented and not added as an after-thought.
In this section, we will focus on
a few broad categories of knowledge and skills we believe are indispensable
in implementing the key ideas and recommendations outlined in this study.
We will also outline what we find to be the most important characteristics
of an appropriate education and training delivery system for Aboriginal
1. Key Knowledge
and Skills Area for Implementing Community Healing
We have identified six generic categories of knowledge and skills that we regard to be essential in the process of implementing community healing in Canadian Aboriginal Communities. These categories are offered as a framework for curriculum development that can be adapted at any level of training across a wide range of health and human service-related disciplines.
b) Human Relations - Knowledge and skills about promoting healthy communication, about conflict resolution and mediation, and about building healthy relationships and healthy organizations.
c) Community Development - Broad-based understanding of what healthy community is, of models of community change, of principles to guide transformational action and of practical tools and strategies for helping communities to learn, change and develop.
d) Governance, Management and Program Development - Related to the knowledge and skills needed to create governmental systems and community programs that are oriented to and capable of promoting continuous improvement of human well-being and prosperity, and that are accountable, transparent, and participatory in their manner of working to create, maintain and protect the public good.
e) Cultural Foundations - Related to developing the knowledge and skills required to effectively access, utilize and integrate culturally-based wisdom, knowledge, technologies, human development processes, protocols and other resources into the process of community healing and development.
f) Leadership - Developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for providing effective leadership in a wide variety of contexts and levels related to community healing, governance, management and development.
Furthermore, many Aboriginal learners experience barriers as they attempt to utilize education and training programs. Some of the most prevalent include the following.
• Prerequisites for getting into programs often do not recognize life experience and culturally based knowledge. Students often require academic upgrading. Programs are rare that bridge between where students are and what is required to even begin training.
• Many Aboriginal learners seeking higher education already have families and jobs. It is extremely difficult for them to be forced to leave their communities for extended periods of time.
• The content of human-service-related studies can bring up the hurt and pain the student is carrying. Furthermore, learners coming from communities in crisis are likely to experience personal or family crises during their program which can cause interruptions.
• The time required to complete a four-year program (especially if the student only attends part-time) exceeds what most funding programs and most employers are prepared to accept.
2. Framework for Aboriginal Community Capacity-Building Program Design
b) Learner-Centered Flexibility - Programs should be uniquely designed to fit the needs and circumstances of the learners. One-size does not fit all. This means addressing academic prerequisites, adjusting the rhythm of the program to community realities, building in social support mechanisms, and being prepared to change the program to accommodate changes in the learners’ life circumstances.
c) Participatory - Learners (and their communities) should be seen as co-educators. Programs need to be learner-driven and also to regard the community and its institutions as partners in program design, management and evaluation. The "take-it-or-leave-it" approach offered by institutions of higher learning in the past can no longer be tolerated.
d) Community-Based - Programs should be located wherever the community of learners live and work.
e) Practical - The focus of all programs should be building the capacity of learners and enhancing their ongoing attempts to address critical personal and community challenges. Curriculum thinking should begin in the learners’ actual realities, current experiences and professional practice and connect these with theories, models and more abstracted forms of knowledge as a means of strengthening learner-capacity.
f) Virtual - By this we mean that programs should reside in a web of human relationships and not in a building, and that these interconnections can be sustained by modern technology such as the internet and interactive television, thus making world-class resources available even to learners living in remote communities scattered across a large geographic area.
g) Values-Driven - Based on the assumption that education and training is not "neutral," the type of programs needed must be connected to processes of spiritual and moral renewal; must be oriented to developing healthy relationships between human beings in families, organizations, communities and nations; and must strive to contribute to the building of a sustainable world.
The virtual college is essentially a valuable learning program that can be taken anywhere, can connect learners to each other and to learning resources using electronics, media and distance learning techniques, can be accredited through partnerships with accredited institutions, but which remains completely under Aboriginal direction and control and oriented to the practical work of community healing and development.
Second, we recommend that land be allocated in every Aboriginal region of the country and healing funds be set aside for culturally based camps and wilderness training programs for Aboriginal young people. These will assist successive generations of Aboriginal children to rediscover and reconnect with their own cultural foundations, with themselves and each other, with the earth, and with the Creator.
D. Summary of Recommendations
In this study we have argued that what must be "secured" in Aboriginal social security reform is human well-being. The simple injection of more money into the present system would be the program equivalent of speaking more loudly to try to make someone do what you want them to do when the real problem is they don't understand the language you are speaking.
We find the present social security system to be fundamentally flawed in several important ways. It creates and maintains dependency, it discourages holistic, community- based solutions, and it is not at all geared to addressing the full range of the basic determinants of well-being. Furthermore, the current system is based on assumptions about how society and the economy are structured that simply do not apply in most Aboriginal communities. Primary among these wrong assumptions is the idea that there is, in fact, an economy to fall back on, which is clearly not the case in the large majority of Aboriginal communities in Canada. Both on and off reserves, Aboriginal people live in relative social and economic isolation, and there has been very little investment in the creation of local Aboriginal economies. Finally, the present system is flawed because it is totally befuddled and often blind to the extent of trauma Aboriginal people have endured. It is not oriented to promoting the healing and capacity building that are needed to secure even moderate levels of well-being in Aboriginal communities.
We have also outlined a healing agenda in Part II of this document which addresses a wide range of issues and challenges communities are facing ranging from addictions, abuse and trauma to co-dependency, the breakdown of basic family and community relationships and dysfunctional community organizations and institutions. In Part III we provided a survey of healing strategies and models, as well as a description of approaches needed to restore well-being to whole community systems. Then, in Part IV, we provided two case examples, those of Alkali Lake, British Columbia and Hollow Water, Manitoba, both which illustrate community action toward healing and the restoration of well-being. Finally, in Part V we have drawn conclusions and made recommendations about initiatives needed to support community healing and development which we regard as important in order to secure well-being for Aboriginal people.
Summary of Recommendations
Following is a summary of the recommendations we have made:
2) Fostering and nurturing core groups is a way of establishing community-based sanctuaries (safe places) within which people can get the support they need to do their healing work, as well as learn and develop new patterns of living for the community.
3) Establishing community-based sexual abuse intervention teams is a strategy for helping communities to tackle the tough issues connected to sexual abuse in a way that creatively balances that demands of the court system with the community's need for healing and reconciliation.
4) Local or Regional Human and Community Development Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Teams were recommended to serve as coaches and mentors to community programs and voluntary groups struggling to shift community patterns toward wellness. These teams of highly competent professionals are intended to provided technical back-stopping and capacity-building services on a fairly continuous basis, so that leaders have the help they need in what is essentially a healthy nation-building exercise.
5) Regional Aboriginal Leadership Academies were recommended as a strategy for strengthening the capacity of community leaders (political, program and voluntary leaders) relative to healing and community development. This is in recognition of the key role leadership must play in moving their communities toward sustainable well-being.
6) The use of Participatory Action Research as a method for assisting communities to come to consensus and move toward action in the community healing process was recommended, with a particular emphasis on helping the community to tell its "story" (past, present, and future) as a means of coming to unity of thought and action.
7) The development of a Community Learning Plan which describes how people are going to learn, to think and to act in new ways that will lead to new levels of wellness and prosperity for all, was recommended for every recovering community.
8) A "Virtual College" of Human and Community Development is a concept of a post-secondary learning program without walls. We have recommended that such programs be set up by communities (or in some cases groups of communities) to tailor-make learning programs to community capacity-building needs. Programs of the virtual college should be anchored in the actual process of community recovery and development; i.e., a hands-on, learning-by-doing approach. The virtual colleges would work with existing colleges and universities when possible, but would take the lead in designing and delivering training programs that address the hard issues of community healing and nation building that Aboriginal communities are struggling with.
9) The allocation of lands and resources for culturally based wilderness camps for Aboriginal young people was also recommended as an important strategy for reconnecting children and youth with themselves, each other, their own cultural heritage, the earth, and the Creator. We regard this dimension of human resource development as a critical investment in the future social security of Aboriginal nations and communities.
10) A special focus on community economic development as a part of social security reform was recommended, with a particular emphasis on strengthening international indigenous peoples’ economic networks to facilitate trade, economic cooperation, and collaboration on projects of mutual benefit.
11) We have also recommended that on an Aboriginal Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities be developed and promoted, which incorporates the right to basic human well-being (and the healing needed to get there), as well as the responsibilities of both individuals and communities in developing and maintaining well-being. The Charter would serve as a standard against which communities could measure their progress, as well as consciousness-raising tool.
12) Closely tied to the idea of the Charter, we have recommended an Aboriginal Healing Accord. The Accord is a kind of pact or treaty that sets goals, strategies and a code of conduct relative to the realities and needs of community healing. All who sign the Accord would thereby commit themselves to working for its provisions in their own lives and communities.
13) We have also recommended the establishment on an Aboriginal Community Healing Fund to be operated as a foundation at arms length from government and controlled by Aboriginal people. The fund could be contributed to by government, the private sector, or any group wishing to make reparations related to Aboriginal healing. The money would be used to support community healing and capacity building work for all Aboriginal people. We have recommended that access to the fund be restricted to those communities and groups that have agreed to the terms and conditions of the Aboriginal Healing Accord.
14) That special funding from the Aboriginal Community Healing Fund be set aside to empower Aboriginal women. This funding would in part support the work of such organizations as the National native Women’s Association to develop programs for healing Aboriginal women and also support community-based programs for women.
15) That special funding from the Aboriginal Community Healing Fund be set aside to support the work of transforming correctional institutions into places of healing and human development.
16) Finally, we recommend the establishment of local human and community development societies as a strategy for creating a mechanism for healing and change within the community that operates at arm’s length from government. These voluntary sector societies are especially recommended for community situations in which leadership is unable or unwilling to support community members who want to move their lives toward sustainable well-being. The societies would be non-partisan promoters of the community healing process empowered to receive funds and to mount programs for that purpose.
We conclude that it sill not be possible to secure human well-being for Aboriginal communities. What is needed, in community after community across the land, is a healing movement that grows from within the hearts of the people and that gradually transforms their relationships with one another.
The recommendations we have made are all oriented to facilitating, capacity building and supporting Aboriginal communities to take the steps they and they alone must take.