In February 2014 the Union of Ontario Indians Social Department in conjunction with the Communications Unit, officially started seeking out those who have experienced domestic violence to share their healing journey stories via video with others.
It is not easy to share your story with others and we are grateful for those who found the courage to share their healing journey. By sharing their stories they will give hope and healing to others and possibly the courage to live a more peaceful and violence free life. We found four Anishinabek who were willing to share and for that we are grateful to them.
The stories were not to have the details of abuse and suffering, but a look at how these individuals survived and turned their lives around.
We ended up making four videos – three women and one man – from our communities who have dealt with family violence. The videos are filled with positive messaging and they also have information at the end of each video – links to resources for people who need to seek help or a shelter.
Interestingly enough – we went into these interviews with a blank slate – let everyone tell their story. The common theme that arose from all four is that they all refer to identity and self-esteem being an important factor to healing and personal change.
We hope that our digital stories will be a tool for public education to increase awareness of domestic violence and sexual violence and to encourage victims of violence to self-identify and access victim services. These videos are posted on the Anishinabek Nation YouTube channel and have been distributed, circulated and posted using different social media formats: the Anishinabek Social Services web page, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Here is what our courageous Anishinaabe had to say:
Jody Jody shared with us the intergenerational affects that residential school had on her family. Her grandmother was ashamed to be First Nation. She has since reconnected with her culture and raises her own children in a better way.
Lynda Lynda was in an abusive relationship for 10 years. She shared with us her courage to leave that relationship and begin her healing journey. She lays down her tobacco daily now and is grateful.
Vicky Vicky grew up with cyclical violence in her family. This led to a self-destructive life where she had no sense of identity. She ended up in an abusive relationship and started abusing drugs and alcohol. She has turned her life around – becoming a role model for others. She is an advocate for the environment and is deeply connected to her spirituality.
Doug Doug shares with us that he grew up without having a sense of identity. That ultimately led him to alcohol, drug abuse and broken relationships. He had a moment one day when he realized he was on the wrong path. He has helped men in prisons reconnect to their identity and culture. He says that since many of our men are in prisons, our men are absent in our communities and no one is walking with our children.
Chi-Miigwetch to Jody, Lynda, Vicky and Doug. Without you, this project would not have been possible. Continue to live the good life!