MNO hosts trauma training for front-line workers

Trauma training
Trauma training participants taking part in an interactive activity.

The Ministry of Youth and Child Services approached the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) to organize training sessions for the Ontario Aboriginal community due to MNO’s excellent reputation in the healing and wellness and its successful relationships with the Ontario Aboriginal community. It was felt that the MNO was a natural choice to bring together a diversity of Aboriginal groups all working in the same areas. Over the week of March 26-28 the MNO hosted twenty Aboriginal organizations in Toronto for a series of training sessions on the topics of trauma, mental health and victim services.

This is the second in a series of three articles that will appear on the MNO website about the positive work that was advanced during these sessions. This article focuses trauma training for front-line workers.

Trauma occurs as a result of a severely distressing event or enduring events that overwhelm the individual’s ability to cope. It tends to be at the core of a variety of symptoms and problems that many people deal with on a daily basis.

The MNO recently held three-day trauma training sessions for Aboriginal front-line workers from across Ontario. The training is designed to support trainees to develop skills that will improve supports to clients who have experienced trauma. It is also designed to help trainees acquire a deeper understanding of Aboriginal healing practices and learn how trauma affects the victim as well as the community.

Focusing on the self-impact of working in the helping field, social worker Diana Tikasz of Compassion Fatigue Solutions provided a presentation on practical tools for dealing with the effects of workers own compassion fatigue, a normal feeling of emotional and physical exhaustion. Participants were provided with practical strategies for identifying and dealing with the costs of caring in a mental health or traumatic setting as well as coping mechanisms.

“Compassion fatigue is a very real issue for all front-line workers and the information I attained here is extremely useful,” said Michael J. Robin, Program Coordinator at the Ga Beh Shoo In Men’s Shelter. “I was shown the ability to address trauma in an entirely new way. It was a great opportunity to be part of this training.

Following this was a two-day workshop: Working with Aboriginal focusing-oriented therapy and complex trauma presented by Dennis Windego, owner of Aboriginal Peoples Training Programs.

During the workshop, participants interactively discovered the impacts of complex trauma within the self, family, communities and systems as well as strategies for self-care and wellness and basic focusing-oriented therapy techniques. Aboriginal treatment models and attitudes including how to prepare a safe ground for unraveling the many different types of trauma were also discussed.

“The training really gave me a perspective of understanding and provided a great overview of the complexity of cultural sensitivity,” said Maria Swain, Community Wellness Worker at the Ontario Native Women’s Association. “It was great to learn about trauma from an Aboriginal point of view. It will be very beneficial to my position.”

Organizations that took part in the training included: Niijkiwendidaa Anishinabekwewag Services Circle, Aboriginal Peoples Alliance of Northern Ontario, CanAm Urban Native Homes, Gs Beh Shoo in Aboriginal Men’s Shelter Ininew Friendship Centre, Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre, Chiefs of Ontario, Ontario Native Women’s Association, Shawanaga First Nation Healing Centre, Independent First Nations, Red Lake Indian Friendship, Ganohkwasra Family Assault Support Services and Independent First Nations.

The MNO is thankful to the Ontario Women’s Directorate and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for providing the funding to make this training possible.