REACH Edmonton

 Edmonton front-line workers will gather March 12-14 to deepen their understanding of trauma-informed practice in serving vulnerable clients at Trauma Informed Edmonton’s 2019 Gathering. 

The Trauma Informed Committee is taking deliberate steps to align with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

In particular, Calls to Action 27 and 33, which address the need for proper, skill-based training and education about the history and impacts of residential schools. 

“When we think of reconciliation, we often think of policy changes, laws, funding, but fundamentally at the core we know that if front-line workers are not trained in historic trauma, we have a worker potentially not aware of their own trauma,” said Madeleine Smith, Co-director of Community Initiatives at REACH Edmonton and member of the Trauma Informed Committee. 

“Then we have a situation of the hurt helping the hurt and they don’t have an understanding of the transmission and connection of trauma,” said Smith. 

“In the Canadian context, this is so important in this time of reconciliation. Because of the traumatic experiences Indigenous people have had on this land, this makes them the experts on this topic. We’re talking about something that’s still surfacing, not something that just happened hundreds of years ago.”

This training aims to help people understand their own trauma, so they can effectively support their clients in working through the effects of historic trauma.

“When people are trained this way, you can make some steps forward because you’re using a common language and there’s understanding,” said Smith. “Without that understanding, you’re not speaking the same language.”

Trauma Informed Edmonton knows how essential this understanding is, particularly after completing an environmental scan in 2018 which enabled clients to explain how a lack of understanding around trauma has affected their ability to access and benefit from services.

More than 80% of clients surveyed said that staff need significantly more training, or would benefit from enhanced training. 

Clients reported that a lack of understanding of trauma, no lived experience with trauma, or an inability to recognize trauma negatively affected their experiences in accessing services and supports.

“They did not experience residential school,” said one client. “They tried to justify the school’s actions.” 

“Most don’t understand. They are given a textbook to teach out of and have no real life experience,” said another. “They didn’t understand, or try to understand me. . . . A lot of people are afraid of what they don’t know or understand. Sop there are a lot of grey areas. As well, there is always that underlying stigma associated with correction and those in conflict with the law.”

The event will be held at three different locations over three days, each day with a different focus.

The themes that will be covered include: 

  • Understanding Historical Trauma and Resilience in Emotional Regulation
  • Emerging Perspective on Trauma Informed Approaches
  • Supporting People with PTSD and Addictive Behaviours

The gathering is aimed at front-line workers and helping professionals who work with individuals who are at risk, experiencing vulnerabilities and marginalized.

This event is organized by Trauma Informed Edmonton, a network of organizations and helping professionals aligning their efforts to deliver effective training and develop/distribute resources on trauma for front-line workers and policymakers.