Understanding historical trauma of Aboriginal clients

A varied group of local professionals, from social workers to community outreach workers, gathered to participate in training focused on historic trauma in the Aboriginal community Oct. 1.

The workshop "Historic Trauma and Aboriginal Client Services" was hosted by REACH Edmonton for a fourth time with the aim of creating an understanding of historic trauma and how it shapes the lives of Aboriginal clients in the present day.

The half-day course was facilitated by Dr. Patti LaBoucane, who serves as Director of Training and Communication with Native Counselling Services of Alberta.

Evaluations of the training session have been overwhelmingly positive. Participants repeatedly share that no matter their length of experience in the field, this information is to some degree, new to them. Often they question why they don’t know these things, when they are working with these kinds of clients every day.

“This has helped me realize that when dealing with families I should be sensitive to their backgrounds,” said one participant. “This would be a great course for everyone to take.”

Another participant said that the information as presented, reinforced her personal experiences working in the community as a Metis woman for 15 years.

Dr. LaBoucane said she aims to bring an understanding to how government policies and legal structures have affected Aboriginals in Canada’s history, so that workers are able to serve these clients more effectively and with great empathy.

“I’m hoping to share knowledge about historic trauma and how it shapes behaviour,” said Dr. LaBoucane. “The goal is to give service providers the context to create an atmosphere of safety and trust with their clients.”

REACH Edmonton is committed to continuing to offer this valuable training and will be scheduling new classes in 2015.