Healing the Hurts and Moving On
A Proposal to
an Aboriginal Health Centre
Residential School Learning Needs Assessment,
Curriculum Development and Training Project Approach
used in October 1999
One of the most devastating things ever done to Aboriginal people was the removal of successive generations of children from their families and the placement of those children in residential schools. The stories of what happened to children and communities in those schools constitutes one of the darkest and most controversial episodes in Canadian Aboriginal history. While we know that some people feel they were not damaged by these schools, we also know that many children were severely traumatized. Some were beaten, tortured and even killed. Many were sexually abused, socially humiliated and psychologically and spiritually brutalized. After four generations of children from the same community passed through the schools, there was in many cases, little left of traditional culture, language, spiritual teachings and the bonds of trust, respect and forgiveness within human relationships that are needed for healthy family and community life.
The process of recovery from the trauma of residential schools is one of the most challenging issues facing Canadian Aboriginal communities today. It is now clear that unresolved trauma from the schools is affecting the political and economic life of communities, as well as the intimacy and integrity of family life and the capacities of many individuals to realize their full potential as human beings.
This is a proposal to the Health Centre in __________, presented jointly from Four Directions International and its sister organization, the Four Worlds Centre for Development Learning, both situated in Alberta.
One comment we feel we must offer
is that our entire core team has been, and will continue to be working
in the field from the time your RFP reached us (September 2nd) to past
your deadline date (September 17th). This means we do not have access to
many documents we would otherwise reference to demonstrate our capacity
related to the RFP. To compensate for this, we are sending a package of
materials containing examples of work we believe is directly relevant to
proposal, and which demonstrates our competencies. Those items are as follows:
Our Understanding of Your Request
We understand that you are asking for three (3) separate, but interrelated pieces of work to be done.
1. Project Needs Assessment and Evaluation
In addition to preparing a report that clearly outlines the staff learning needs in this area, this portion of the work also entails conducting a follow-up evaluation related to the appropriateness of the curriculum and the effectiveness of the training provided.
For each part, a summary of the issues and obstacles we anticipate will be provided and a brief outline of how we would address them will be included.
B. A brief introduction to Four Worlds/Four Directions and to the work-team we propose to use.
C. A demonstration of ability related to the areas of capacity outlined in your RFP.
D. A budget.
1.The learning needs assessment process would have to contain the following elements:
2.Building relationships of trust with front line staff. We assume that many (if not most) of the staff are also community members and so the issue of residential schools is not just somebody else's issue. It is also their own issue. From what little we know of the Health Centre, you are already deeply engaged with many issues that have been identified (in other communities) with the legacy of residential schools.
3.Engage staff in phase one of a participatory action research process to identify:
4.The specific impacts the residential school experience has had on the people and community.
The report would contain:
4.2 a description of the learners, their needs, learning styles, preferences, etc.
4.3 a description of the cultural, social, and professional context within which the learning will occur;
***Based on size and scope of project.***
The Curriculum Development Phase
Based on the outcomes of Part I, our team would develop an intensive learning program and a curriculum guide (on series of guides) for the process. Typically, our learning programs have the following features.
-A series of short, intensive workshops with periods of on-the-job application
between sessions (for example, one 2-4 day session per month for four months).
-The curriculum logic moves from the self to family to significant relationships to groups and organizations to community to nation and beyond, and wholistically addresses intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual as well as political, economic, social and cultural dimensions of life.
-Is concrete and specific to local realities, needs, and grounded in participants’ experience.
-Uses a lot of stories, activities, laughter, play exercises and games to enhance learning.
-The curriculum is to a large extent learner-centered, learner-guided, and learner-driven related to pace and the choice and flow from a menu of activities.
-The curriculum is to some extent iterative; that is it is flexible enough to adapt and change to meet changing learner requirements.
-Culturally appropriate approaches to the learning process are carefully observed, especially related to respecting community protocols around sensitive cultural issues, in the way local knowledge is consulted and respected, and in the way learning relationships are fostered and maintained.
Our programs usually require both instructor guides and student materials. In this case, we would expect to collect materials as well as to have to design original reading and other materials.
As well, our programs usually have a practicum element that is mentored.
Whether or not this is required will be determined through the needs assessment.
Our experience related to the residential schools tells us that there are a broad range of issues that are tied to the impact of residential schools in most Aboriginal communities. Some of these include:
All to say that a major curriculum development challenge will be to cover enough, but not to try to cover too much and to keep the learning directly focused on your community’s realities and needs.
At this early stage, we estimate that a series of four, four-day training
sessions will be required spread over 6-8 months. These workshop sessions
would be divided into classroom sessions (60%) and work team mentoring
Delivery of Training
We would also use the field portion of the training for evaluation of the impact of the training (called for in Part I).
We have outlined (in Part II above) some of the general characteristics our approach to training usually has (culturally appropriate, learner-centered, experiential, etc.).
We have also stated that our curriculum is always designed to be open-ended enough to be able to change as new learning needs emerge as a result of the process (some educators call this "emergent outcomes").
Issue: An issue (for us) inherent in this entire project is the fundamental idea that viewing needs assessment, curriculum design and training delivery as separate but related projects that could be done by different providers may somewhat inhibit the capacity of providers to adjust the process to fit emergent learning outcomes. Unless those delivering the training are also competent curriculum developers, and also competent in reading emergent patters of needs, they might well be inclined to follow a prescribed curriculum like a script (rather than as a menu of options) regardless of the needs. An example of what could unfold is that some staff may have their own accumulated patterns of hurt re-stimulated by discussions of the abuse and trauma of others, and they may require processing time, support and additional learning in order to be able to productively deal with those feelings.
Following such an interlude, trainers will need to adjust (i.e. redesign) the entire workshop, making judgments about what to take out and what to stress, given the loss of a significant portion of planned time (the budget will of course place boundaries on the time available).
We raise this to argue that Four Worlds/Four Directions can offer an
integrated team approach capable of addressing all of these issues effectively.
Four Worlds has worked in Aboriginal community healing and development since the early 1980s. We are known for our part in making the Alkali Lake movie ("The Honour of All," Parts I, II, and III), for our extensive range of curriculum materials which we developed, including the "Adult Education" series, and a wide range of adult learning materials and programs; for our direct work with communities in healing and community development processes, and for our extensive work as capacity builders of community level organizations.
Some current projects we are working on include the following:
Phil Lane, Jr. (Dakota/Chickasaw Tribes) — Phil is internationally recognized for his work in culturally-based community healing and development.C. Demonstration of Our Ability
Michael Bopp, Ph. D. — Michael is a specialist in community-based research in the design of learning programs, and in capacity building for community healing and development.
Judie Bopp — Judie is a curriculum specialist with many years of experience in designing and delivering culturally appropriate training related to community healing.
Cruz Acevedo, Ph. D. — Dr. Cruz (as he is affectionately known by the many Aboriginal communities he has worked with) is a specialist in helping Aboriginal communities address the efforts of accumulated trauma and abuse.
Prepared by:-Ability to develop a complete training needs assessment and follow-up evaluation — We have done so many times. Our Masters Degree Program began with a Kellogg Foundation grant to conduct a training needs assessment with US based tribes related to community healing and development. An evaluation was part of the package. The result is our new, up-and-running Masters Program.
-Cultural sensitivity — Our methodology is always participatory, which means cultural insiders must take the lead as co-authors of any process we undertake. We have worked in hundreds of indigenous communities very successfully in this way.
-Appropriate evaluation methodology for your context — We don’t import tools and methods; we develop them in partnership with our local counterparts to fit each cultural/community situation setting.
[Note: The approach we have proposed of involving staff and a local steering committee as partners in researching and identifying (from the inside-out) both the community realities and learning needs illustrates how we will ensure that our approach is culturally/community appropriate.
-Ability to develop relevant curriculum — See our package of materials sent as an adjunct to this proposal (by courier from Lethbridge and Calgary)
-Demonstrated understanding of the impact of residential schools — Our video "Healing the Hurts" was one of the first (if not the very first) learning video produced in Canada related to the trauma of residential schools. Our study "Community Healing and Aboriginal Social Security Reform" carried out for the Assembly of First Nations directly addresses the residential school issue, and we are currently providing support to a major class action suit by over 500 plaintiffs to seek compensation for the trauma of residential schools.
-Ability to deliver training related to clinical skills for front line staff — Much of our work with community program and treatment centre staff is directly related to clinical skills (i.e. skills required to foster healing and growth). As well, our Masters Program (in partnership with the California School of Professional Psychology) directly addresses this area.
Michael Bopp, Ph.
P.O. Box 395
Coordinator Cochrane, Alberta Canada T0L 0W0
Four Worlds Centre for Development Learning Telephone: (403)932-0882
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (403)932-0883