Western Half Yearly – Saturday October 8 – Late Afternoon and Evening
Saturday afternoon many of us listened intently to our two guests, Doug Racine and Cindy Hanson.
Doug, a lawyer from Saskatoon, has done significant work with residential school victims. He was adjudicator in the residential school claims process for 5 years. During that time he came to view claimants as being treated as commodities. He was moved to put his energy into representing claimants. “Money means nothing”, he told us. “The healing process is most important.”
Doug described to us how he uses stories to work with claimants. He spoke of telling trust stories (to show who he is), orientation stories (to help claimants remember and acknowledge why they are in the claimant process, and respect and connection stories (to address the guilt shame and anger that inhabit those who have been victims of sexual abuse). He confirmed what many of us have observed and believe. Western concepts of law do not deal with justice or healing.
When asked what was hardest for him about the work, he said that it wasn’t listening to the stories, it was ensuring that his clients are kept safe through the process. “Safe in and safe out”, he said. He reassures clients, “You’re not leaving until you feel good about yourself”…and he contracts for follow-up contact with each client, using the services of a traumatologist if needed.
Doug spoke passionately about his work, his clients and the need for healing in the process. Listening to him, for me, brought more hope than sadness, and led to much reflection on the nature of the debt owed to those who have been harmed.
Cindy Hanson, an adult educator, told us about her work in Ethiopa, providing a particular type of training for agricultural aid workers. She noted that the literacy level for women in Ethopia is 30%, that no one talks about HIV AIDS, that there is high infant mortality and that there is a lack of clean water. Cindy had developed and delivered a training program based on adult learning principles and approaches. looking at gender and HIV AIDS, to help raise awareness and develop sensitivity for those who were working to develop agricultural capacity in rural communities.
She told us of creating with her students social maps showing water sources and uses and the related activity patterns. The women (who do most of the agricultural work and carry the water) created a map about half the size of the room, the men a map that was about 4 times the room size. This difference in experience apparently caused quite a bit of debate and animated discussion.
In her work in Ethiopa, Cindy observed that the effective community was one that srlf-organized around equality, mutual support and sustainability. “Micro-stuff works”, she said, “and self-organization”.
Cindy left us with two questions:
1. How can we use power to challenge power?
2. How can we use privilege to disrupt privilege?
I wonder how these questions will challenge me to put my faith into practice.
In early evening, Dale Dewar, told us about the work she has been doing in Iraq, providing training for obstetricians. For about six years, she has been doing this work through Canadian Friends Service Committee, partnering with the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada and the The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Dale travelled to Iraq, along with a couple of other physicians to provide training in monitoring the progression of a birth. She told us that 50% of deliveries in Iraq are Caeserean Sections, noting that is a reflection of the training currently provided to physicians. She observed that, although many organizations send medical supplies and equipment to Iraq, there are no systems in place to support their effective use.
Dale told us of some of her challenges in learning how local unspoken customs and practices might inhibit effective training and also spoke with hope of continued opportunities for training programs, expanding them to nursing staff. Listening to the stories, to Dale talk about the work and what it was like to be there, to build the relationships, to take the personal risks, I felt much more connected to the work that we support through CFSC. I was reminded again of a quote offered at Quaker Study at CYM this year. “The manifestation of holiness is in relationships”, and I wonder how we, as such a spread out community, can grow and sustain such relationships that nurture us and provide service to others. At Meeting for Worship for Business on Sunday, Western Half Yearly committed $500 to support Dale’s next visit, planned for later this year.
We finished the evening with a few games, including “A big wind blows…” which brought laughter, raised the energy and connected us – all the generations – through play. I was delighted to have the chance to try out some of the activities provided in the Intergenerational Took Kit provided by Friends General Conerence.