Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day and with the recent discovery of remains from over 200 children at a former Kamloops residential school, it’s a day to reflect and acknowledge the ongoing impacts of trauma.
“Indigenous people still endure suffering due to the impacts of the residential schools and now families have faced the horrific toll of dealing with the findings at the Kamloops site,” Revelstoke women’s shelter executive director Lynn Loeppky said. “Free counselling is something we can do to support individuals during this difficult time.”
The Kamloops site is one of more than 150 institutions in Canada that for well over a century forcibly separated Indigenous children from their families to assimilate them into Canadian society.
The women’s shelter has a program that offers up to 10 free counselling sessions to all genders/identities in the Revelstoke community. Local counsellor Caylan Barber has taken on the part-time role left by Terri Forester who has pursued opportunities outside of Revelstoke.
“It is honestly difficult for me to talk about the profound effect of the residential schools and inter-generational trauma,” Barber said. “It is beyond tragic what has happened to Indigenous children and their families, and what continues to happen. The systemic issues created are still very present in our society today and change needs to happen. Accessible mental health care in combating inter-generational trauma is a huge part of that.”
Barber identifies as part Syilx and Métis and prior to becoming a counsellor she worked with Indigenous youth for about seven years. In that time she noticed a gap in mental health support that incorporates culture, community, movement and holistic health, such as the medicine wheel. These are all elements integrated into her practice at the shelter and in her own practice at Mountainside Wellness, along with more traditional modalities such as CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), IFS (Internal Family Systems), EFT (Emotionally-focused Therapy), relational therapy and more.
“There is a more colonial perspective that trauma is something that happens and you treat it versus people actually currently living and fighting within and against a traumatizing system,” Barber explains.
“National Indigenous Peoples Day is important to every community, to honour and respect the land that has been forcibly taken, and to learn and celebrate Indigenous culture. Now more then ever it is important to really hear and amplify Indigenous voices, and acknowledge the truth behind it.
“I am still learning, constantly, and trying to do so as respectfully as possible, while acknowledging the privilege I carry being white-passing.”
In her work, Barber also hopes reach other marginalized communities (BIPOC, ND, LGBTQ2SIA+). The counselling program is open to all genders/identities as well as birth and reproductive trauma. To book a free session with Caylan, email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the wait list.