Health worker says Indigenous communities may need different approach to domestic violence

Splatsin First Nation conference will hear from many voices on how whole community can effect change

By Liam Britten, CBC News Posted: Oct 20, 2016 6:41 PM PT Last Updated: Oct 20, 2016 6:41 PM PT
The Splatsin First Nation, near Enderby, says when it comes to preventing domestic violence, the whole community has a role to play.
It is holding a conference this weekend called Reclaiming Circles of Wellness dedicated to helping people of all ages and genders deal with the problem.
"That's a very traditional value of Indigenous people. Every time there is a community issue that is impacting people negatively, it's a cultural practice … to gather," Splatsin Health Services' Laura Hockman told Radio West host Audrey McKinnon.
"Feast systems or potlatches, [a] conference sort of has a similar model … To be able to have all the voices in the community heard about a particular issue."
Hockman says historical traumas are part of the story of First Nations communities: policies like the Sixties Scoop and residential schools were designed to destroy families, she says, and these traumas and pervasive racism help create a vicious circle of violence and family destruction.
Hockman says "mainstream" approaches to domestic violence — for the victim to call the police and leave the area — don't always work in First Nations communities.
There is a pervasive mistrust of police, she says, and for many victims, the community they live in is central to their identity and well-being, so leaving to go to a transition house, for example, is not an ideal long-term option.
"Any time I've had a client and they've had to leave the community, our first question is, OK, but when can they come back to the community? When can they come back to their home?" she said.
At the conference, Hockman says a wide range of voices will be heard: women, men, youth, elders, health professionals and counsellors.
Reclaiming Circles of Wellness begins Oct. 21 at the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby, B.C.
With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West
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