Seeds of Hope in Bloom: Lateral Violence and Oppression Training
What is Lateral Violence?
Last year, Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre (Beausejour, MB) received a United Church of Canada Foundation Seeds of Hope grant from the James Robertson Memorial Trust in support of Lateral Violence training for their team. The training was delivered by Métis trainer, Jaicee Chartrand of Crisis and Trauma Response Institute.
Lateral violence occurs when harmful behaviours someone has experienced show up in their interactions with others. It is expressed in many forms including lack of trust, favouritism, and poor communication, leading to conflict between individuals or within an entire group. A primary goal of the training was to improve relationships between Centre staff, their guests, and students. They wanted to be better equipped to support, notice, and diffuse potentially harmful situations.
Compassion, Support, Accountability
SSSC’s Rebecca Watson tells us “The training was primarily positive despite some heavy topics to discuss. There was amazing feedback from our team members and the students.
“We anticipate much better working relationships within our team. More compassion, more support, and more accountability for a healthy work environment. For our Ministry training students, the effects will ripple for years amongst one another and into their communities. We believe that in our circle, we are all teachers and students. The students [who] took in the training will continuously absorb this training and share how they handled difficult situations with grace, compassion, and accountability.”
A Shift in Energy
The group says that their top three learnings resulting from this training are:
- recognizing the stages of lateral violence and diffusing it before it progresses to the latter stages. The damage at that point is a total sever in relationship and/or very toxic and unhealthy relationships. Learning Circle students work in community and admitted during the training they felt like they didn’t even know what lateral violence was, but were able to identify that they have experienced it on many levels
- the value and appreciation for what they had learned from sharing with one another
- the team had a chance to process the loss of a team member who had caused a lot of damage and stress to them. Although the team member was no longer with the centre, the group hadn’t really processed the experience as a team. They found it helpful to understand and unpack what was going on at that time, and to identify it as blatant lateral violence.
“This was a bonding experience and staff morale is at an all-time high since I began at the Centre 8 months ago. The feedback and shift in energy among the team [have] been noticeable. In addition, we have received very positive feedback from guests who feel very welcomed and supported by our compassionate staff during their time at the Centre. The majority of our guests have experienced a lot of trauma and come to the Centre for healing and ceremonies that bring up a lot,” Rebecca says.
“Our Indigenous ministry training students have all experienced trauma, as well as… lateral violence and oppression in their work. They have shared that they feel better equipped with tools and healing to go out and do this work as ministers and spiritual leaders in their community.”
Seeds of Hope Grants Available
Does your community of faith, camp, education centre (or another group) see a need in that you can fill in your congregation or community like SSSC did? A Seeds of Hope grant can help make it a reality! Rebecca tells us “We shared with the team and students throughout the training that it was because of the Seeds of Hope grant that we were able to host such a wonderful training. [We] are very grateful.”
Our Spring 2024 Seeds of Hope grant round is now open! Learn more and apply now: unitedchurchfoundation.ca/grants/seeds-of-hope. Get in touch with your questions by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.