Kanesatake Comprehensive Community Planning (CCP) is embarking on a new journey with its community’s well being in mind.
During the first week of February, CCP is offering individual online healing sessions to Kanehsata’kehró:non, guided by the Tionhnhi:io Wellness team run by Linda Karonhienhawe Delormier and her partner, Adam Wolfe. The sessions will combine intuitive physical movements with reflective conversations aimed at unlocking past trauma.
“These sessions bring you to the core of what goes on inside of you,” said CCP coordinator Amanda Simon. “It’s about finding a comfortable place where you are safe and where you can experience the teachings that Linda and Adam will be bringing.”
Kahnawa’kehró:non Delormier and Wolfe have been practicing Niasziih for many years, a nature-based body, mind and spirit healing method. While it might sound vague for some people, Delormier was quick to say that this isn’t voodooism, but rather to think of it as something deeply rooted in culture and natural medicines. The partners explained that their practice is meant to help clients understand when they have truly connected with themselves and move things that are otherwise preventing them from simply being, such as traumas.
“This is a very challenging work to explain because what we do is largely intuitive,” said Wolfe. “A way that you can think about it is when are we connected to ourselves and when are we separated from ourselves?”
For Simon, reconnecting the community on an individual-level first is also one of the steps towards deeper unification.
“When I started the project for Kanesatake, I knew we came from a place of a lot of trauma,” said Simon.
What the community experienced back in 1990, with the so-called Oka Crisis, seeing military unloading on Kanien’kehá:ka land while members were fighting for its protection, added to a long colonial past of wrongdoings, and all those events have undeniable consequences.
“We wanted to start making people feel comfortable, help them get out of their traumas, get out of that feeling that their voices don’t mean anything,” she added.
CCP was initiated in Kanesatake back in 2018, with Simon and community member Paige O’Brien as coordinators. The CCP approach was initially created by the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Sustainable Development Institute (FNQLSDI), bringing communities to forge a unique, conjunctive vision rooted in their own tradition, culture and language. More than 200 Onkwehón:we communities across Canada have already, or are currently using the CCP inclusive process, which binds members together toward a better future.
FNQLSDI planning coordinator Catherine Béland explained that it’s an approach that encourages people to recall who they are, where they come from and where they want to go as a whole.
“This isn’t done in four minutes,” said Béland. “It takes a lot of time because you need to reinstate relationships first. A lot of communities are internally divided, but at the end of the day, people want to be together.”
Béland added that interestingly, CCP allows for communities to explore those divisions and to go back to its source, and see their ongoing impacts.
The first training held by Kanesatake CCP over a year ago was meant to do just that. The three-part lateral violence/lateral kindness workshops were offered to the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) and other MCK departments such as the Health Centre.
“My first approach was within council because there’s in-fighting there and there’s a huge animosity toward them from community members,” said Simon. “In order to bridge that gap and duality, I needed to take baby steps, something that was attainable.”
Simon said the session was a great eye-opener, as she noticed a lack of firm understanding of the concept of lateral violence and how people were guilty of committing it while also being a victim of it. This is part of the reason why she felt compelled to move the healing on an individual level.
“This time around, our aim and focus would be to get out of the council and see what the members are feeling,” said Simon, who wants to be as inclusive as possible and hear other voices than the classic groups, such as the elders and the council. “We needed to find ways to provide everybody with that feeling that they are important, even if you are old, young, on welfare, or struggling with addiction. You are important.”
Twelve one-hour spots are available for the online healing sessions that will be held on February 1, 3 and 5.
As Simon said, healing is a very personal and intimate journey. We don’t always know how past experiences affected us, until we take a deeper look within.
“I would say that 99 percent of people are afraid of facing their traumas. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s a very big step,” said Wolfe.
Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door