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Healing from Trauma

This page is devoted to Sagamok's reading program initiative

that is exploring Rupert Ross's new book,

Indigenous Healing: Exploring Traditional Paths


At a community forum on March 7, 2018, a community reading program was launched that invites community members to read Ross' book with the goal of inspiring a new wave of healing and wellness. 


The community reading program was inspired by guest speaker, Dr. Martin Brokenleg, during an Intergenerational Trauma Conference hosted by Sagamok last November, who recommended bringing Ross' new book to community members.


Rupert Ross is a former crown prosecutor serving the Kenora District and with Indigenous Healing: Exploring Traditional Paths, he shares what he's learned from years of working with aboriginal communities across Canada.  He asserts that a traditional worldview is needed by communities as they work towards their visions of justice and healing that address the ongoing impacts of social trauma associated with the Residential School experience and recognizing the unwell behaviors that manifest themselves in our families.  


In Indigenous Healing: Exploring Traditional Paths, Ross helps us to understand the destructive forces of colonization, with a special focus on residential schools as powerful tools used to destabilize entire communities long after they were shut down.  Ross explores the framing of healing today as "decolonizing therapy" with the key to healing being a return to traditional indigenous worldviews. 


Find out more about the launch of this community reading initiative with this coverage by the Sagamok Anishnawbek News here! 




Pour a cup of tea.  Find your favorite alone, safe spot.  This is a book that you are not going to want to put down.  You're going to keep it in your collection forever or share it with someone who can use it.  It's going to make a big impact on you. 



This book is evocative.  Indigenous Healing: Exploring Traditional Paths is going to take you on an emotional and spiritual journey and we recommend that you make sure you have the right supports to help you along the way. 


As you read this book, you will gain insight into indigenous world view, beliefs and perspectives on relationships and how they are "embedded within" the natural order, with ethical responsibilities to each other and as a humble, dependent and vulnerable part of Creation.  With a focus on residential schools as agents of psychological trauma and long term damage, you will appreciate how our parents and grandparents were changed by their experiences in these institutions. 


Many communities have begun their healing journeys from colonization which is now described as "decolonized therapy".  In Indigenous Healing: Exploring Traditional Paths, you will read about programs that now recognize that the key ingredient for healing - on a personal level, within families and in a community context - is re-establishing traditional paradigms of well living and approaches to health. 


We recognize through our community development journey that for our community and nation to be well, our individual members and our families need to be well.  We need to heal together in order for us to be well together.  This book is meant to help individuals heal, strengthen the bonds within our families and bring us together as a community. 




Reading Support with a Facebook Group


Along your reading journey, you may have questions about some of the things you've come across. 


To help, we've set up a (closed) Facebook group for you to join so that you can ask questions, access comprehension reading supports and information to support what you are reading.  Our Facebook group is called Sagamok Reading Club and we hope you will become a member.  It is a a great opportunity to learn from others and to share what you know.  We hope to see all our group members contribute valuable insights, stories and healing thoughts to help us all appreciate what we are learning in our readings.   

Click here to go our Sagamok Reading Club facebook group!



Sharing Circles


We appreciate that when we ask you to pick up this book that we are asking you to embark on an emotional and spiritual journey of healing towards a vision of wellness.  We don't want you to do it alone and in isolation.  We recognize that it will be important for you to process, internalize and confirm what you are reading.  We also recognize that you may need to "unload" what you've been reading in a community group setting. 


We have scheduled three Sharing Circle Sessions that will be held on Tuesdays over the months of May through the end of July.  Each Sharing Circle Session is themed and delivered in three separate events that will target women in one event, men in another and finally one event that will bring both women and men together in a Sharing Circle. 


Session 1: Part One  Stumbling into a World of Right Relations

Women's Sharing Circle          May   9

Men's Sharing Circle                May 16

Shared Sharing Circle               May 23


Session 2: Part Two  Colonization

Women's Sharing Circle          June 12

Men's Sharing Circle                June 29

Shared Sharing Circle              June 26


Session 3: Part Three  Healing from Colonization

Women's Sharing Circle           July 17

Men's Sharing Circle                 July 24

Shared Sharing Circle               July 31



Community Support Services


In the event that you experience emotional or spiritual distress that is triggered by what you are reading or find that the overall experience causes you to need support or assistance, remember that Saswin Mental Health, Addictions and Cultural Services is your place in Sagamok to obtain the help you need. 


If you find yourself in emotional or spiritual distress, don't forget that Sagamok offers an After-Hours Support Service that you can reach out to by calling (705) 863-3178. 



















To support your reading


On the Works of Rupert Ross


Hazen, David  "Rupert Ross"  YouTube [October 26, 2012  12:50]

Mr. Ross was an Assistant Crown Attorney for the District of Kenora with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General from 1985 until his retirement in 2011. He was primarily involved in criminal prosecutions in remote First Nation communities. He searched for ways to respond to the needs and culture of aboriginal people and gained a better understanding of the impact of colonization. He has published two books that are used in universities and colleges across North America, and has received a national award for Humanitarianism.


Kineticstreaming  "Community-Healing-15693"  YouTube [November 15, 2013   05:05]

Rupert Ross, former Crown Prosecutor, expected important systemic changes in Canada's formal justice system in wake of the Gladue decision (R.V. Gladue1999).  After his expectations failed to be realized, Ross suggests there are fundamental differences in the idea and practice of justice in Aboriginal society versus western society.  Ross explains that we need to reconsider justice by focusing on relationships and adopt alternative, open-minded approaches to sentencing through community building.

****this is a full length video that can be purchased by emailing


Ross, Rupert  "Discussion Paper: Exploring Criminal Justice and the Aboriginal Healing Paradigm"  Law Society of Ontario.




On Residential School Impacts: Stories of Survivors


Magic Arrow Productions "Sleeping Children Awake"  YouTube [June 28, 2016  51:50]

Sleeping Children Awake (SCA) was shot in 1991 and televised in 1992. It was one of the earliest independant, feature length documentaries to be broadcast on the crucial subject of the Residential School System . SCA won several awards including "Best Canadian Documentary 1993" (CanPro) and was screened at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's national events held in Winnipeg, Manitoba 2010, and Saskatchewan 2012.

Residential Schools operated in Canada from the 1800's until 1996. These schools were a primary weapon of the government and the missionaries in their attempt to systematically destroy Native culture. Generations of First Nations people have been scarred from the affects of that policy.

Grand Chief Phil Fontaine (a residential school survivor) said, "The first step in healing is disclosure."

In this spirit, "Sleeping Children Awake" illuminates the voices of the many former residents and their families, including Elijah Harper (M.P.) and the late Art Solomon ( Elder, Author).

These recollections and experiences are bridged with dramatic excerpts from Shirley Cheechoo's autobiographical play, "Path with No Moccasins". Shirley shares an emotional account of her experiences in residential school, a subsequent destructive lifestyle and her journey back into wholeness.

The documentary features the songs of Maria Linklater and artwork of various accomplished artists.

"Sleeping Children Awake" is both a personal record of this nations' history and a tribute to the enduring strength of Native Cultures.


TytonSound  "Wawahte: Stories of Residential School Survivors - FULL DOCUMENTARY"  YouTube [October 25, 2016   48:45]

Wawahte is an educational documentary based on the book of the same title by Robert P. Wells, first published in 2012. It tells the story of Indian Residential Schools from the perspective of three of its survivors.


CBC  "Namwayut: we are all one.  Truth and reconciliation in Canada"  YouTube [December 18, 2017   4:20]

Chief Robert Joseph shares his experience as a residential school survivor and the importance of truth and reconciliation in Canada.


Anishinabek Nation  "Mother & Daughter: Inter-Generational Effects of Residential School"  YouTube [April 10, 2013   9:35]

In this video M'Chigeeng First Nation citizens Krystine Abel and her mother Eve Abel talk about how Eve's experience as a student at St. Joseph's residential school in Spanish, Ontario in the 1950's had an impact on Eve's parenting and Krystine's sense of identity as an Anishinaabe Kwe.


Anishinabek Nation  "Brian Nootchtai: Inter-Generational Effects of Residential School"  YouTube [April 10, 2013  13:24]

In this video Brian Nootchtai, Mental Health Case Worker at the N'Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre in Cutler, Ontario, discusses the inter-generational effects of Residential School, and notes that validating the residential school experience - as individuals, families and communities is an important step to healing.


Al Jazeera English  "Canada's Dark Secret - Featured Documentaries S2017 E40"  YouTube [June 13, 2017   47:30]

Canada's Dark Secret - Featured Documentary


Aboriginal Education  "Colonialism and Indian Residential Schools: Part 1 of 3"  YouTube [May 29, 2014]

Part 1 of 3    Central Okanagan School District presents Angela White and the Indian Residential School Survivors' Society as a guest speaker on Canada's Residential Schools.

This first video is about the colonial aspect of Residential Schools.


Aboriginal Education  "History Indian Residential School: Part 2 of 3"  YouTube [May 29, 2014]

Part 2 of 3     Central Okanagan School District presents Angela White and the Indian Residential School Survivors' Society as a guest speaker on Canada's Residential Schools.

This second video covers the historical aspect of Residential Schools.


Aboriginal Education  "Impacts of Indian Residential School: Part 3 of 3"  YouTube [May 29, 2014]

Part 3 of 3     Central Okanagan School District presents Angela White and the Indian Residential School Survivors' Society as a guest speaker on Canada's Residential Schools.

This third video covers the lasting impacts of Residential Schools.



University of Toronto  "3.6 Interview with Suzanne Stewart on Intergenerational Trauma [Part 1]"  Coursera [10:38]


University of Toronto  "3.6 Interview with Suzanne Stewart on Intergenerational Trauma [Part 2]"  Coursera [10:38]



University of Alberta  "Residential Schooling Part 1Killing the Indian Lesson.  Coursera [12:53]


University of Alberta  "Residential Schooling Part 1Killing the Indian Lesson.  Coursera [11:04]



Residential Schools in the Media


The National  "Stolen Children: Residential School survivors speak out"  YouTube [June 2, 2015   18:35]


The National  "Death at Residential School"  YouTube [December 20, 2015   8:09]


The National  "New Heritage Minute explores dark history of residential schools"  YouTube [June 21, 2016   2:19]


The National  "Hidden Children"  YouTube [October 28, 2016   3:58]

Some Indigenous parents saved their children from residential schools by sending them into hiding. Now grown, one woman has been reunited with the family that saved took her in.


The National  "Residential school policy called "cultural genocide""  YouTube [June 2, 2015   3:01]

Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, calls Canada's residential school policy "cultural genocide".


The National  "Death toll in Residential Schools"  YouTube [December 14, 2015   2:25]

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission says 3,200 indigenous children died while attending residential school, but Justice Murray Sinclair worries that number is much higher.


The National  "Hunger experienced in residential schools linked to present-day health problems"  YouTube [August 14, 2017  2:11]

Hunger experienced by those growing up in residential schools has been linked to health problems in adult survivors, new research shows.




Reconciling Residential Schools


The National  "Daycare Teaches Toddlers About Residential Schools"  YouTube [September 25, 2015   2:35]

A daycare in B.C. is teaching toddlers about Canada's dark history of residential schools.


The National  "Teaching the history of residential schools"  YouTube [September 4, 2015   2:04]

Students across the country are getting ready for a new school year. And some teachers are getting ready to tackle a difficult subject. The history of residential schools.


The National  "What reconciliation really means"  YouTube [June 2, 2015  1:21]




Truth & Reconciliation


Assembly of First Nations  "Moment of Reckoning - Turning the Page on a Dark Chapter of Our Shared History"  YouTube [June 5, 2014   14:02]



University of Alberta  "Truth and Reconciliation Commission"  Killing the Indian Lesson.  Coursera [15:24]


June 2008 Government of Canada Apology for Residential Schools


Indian Residential Schools Statement of Apology - Phil Fontaine, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations





Traditional Approaches to Healing


University of Alberta  "Indigenous Teaching and LearningKilling the Indian Lesson.  Coursera [9:46]



chunterlewcom  "Understanding the "Circle of Care" and the Impacts of the Residential School Trauma"  YouTube [March 15, 2016   11:41]

This is a living history of what happened to our people. 

An emotionally powerful presentation on the "Circle of Care" in a community and how the Residential School System was a tool at dismantling the Circles of Care in indigenous communities.  The presentation is made by Felix Walker, CEO of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Family and Community Wellness Centre.



Dr. Martin Brokenleg  "First Nations Principles of Learning"  YouTube [October 26, 2016   8:58]

Information from BC First Nations Knowledge Keeper’s Principles of Learning and Dr. Martin Brokenleg’s presentation of the Circle of Courage at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings held May 17 2013 in Williams Lake. Produced for School District 27 Cariboo-Chilcotin.


Teagerden, Dr. Jim.  "MSLBD 1990 Martin Brokenleg"  MSLBD.  [23:44]

Dr. Martin Brokenleg presented the "Circle of Balance" to the 1990 session of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders (MSLBD). 








We promote the following program as an opportunity for Sagamok community members to address their own personal traumas and restore their personal relationships.

Naandwe Noojimowin

Assisting in the Healing Movement toward the Good Life

Beauty for Ashes Program


Naandwe Noojimowin (Assisting in the Healing Movement toward the Good Life), was formerly called the Beauty From Ashes program. It is an intensive (voluntary) 5-day residential program that benefits anyone seeking to understand the connection between childhood trauma, and how they interact with and relate to people they come into contact with everyday. This program provides insight into personal behaviours, helps participants understand their relational style and where it originates from, and offers tools for improving communication and relationships.


Naandwe Noojimowin is a cultural resiliency model aimed at improving relationships and reducing the cycle of abuse.


The program offers a unique approach to address the needs of adult (18+) survivors of various trauma including domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse/neglect, family dysfunction, etc. The program offers hope, provides tools necessary to effect change, and the skills to build / re-build relationships.


Can we forge the past and “just get on” with our lives?  How much can the past really affect me today?


The importance of understanding the lasting and long-term impact that domestic violence, abuse and neglect has on those who have experienced it, or are currently experiencing it, is vitally important.


Naandwe Noojimowin joins participants with others in a journey that explores stores / events that have touched their lives.


The Naandwe Noojimowin is designed to educate and train individuals how to interact with, and respond to those whose lives have been impacted by trauma.



Naandwe Noojimowin, Beauty from Ashes: Reconciling our Past, Reclaiming our Future is an intensive five-day residential training program that benefits anyone seeking to understand the connection between childhood trauma(s) and how we interact with and relate to people we come into contact with every day. The Beauty from Ashes process provides insight into personal behaviors, helps participants understand where their relationship style originates from, and offers tools for improving communications and relationships.


N'Mninoeyaa has partnered with Benbowopka Treatment Centre in Blind River and the Dan Pine Healing Lodge in Garden River First Nation so that they are now able to offer Naandwe Noojimowin at two different locations.  


Learning materials, meals and shared accommodation are provided free of charge.  Participants are responsible for travel to and from the event location.  


Upcoming Naandwe Noojimowin Event Dates


April 22 - 26                 Anishnaabe Spiritual Centre (Espanola)

June 10-15                   Dan Pine Healing Lodge

July 25-31                    Benbowopka

September 9-14            Dan Pine Healing Lodge

February 8-12, 2019      Benbowopka



Naandwe Noojimowin Presenter and Co-Leader Training (NNPaCT)   Advance Leadership Education Training: Additional training is coordinated annually for those interested in group leading/presenting at a Beauty from Ashes or co-leading community level learning circles. Minimum Requirement: completion of at least one Beauty for Ashes program.


Upcoming Naandwe Noojimowin Presenter and Co-Leader Training 


November 8-12              Benbowopka



For more information on Naandwe Noojimowin, contact Cheryl Hankard, N'Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre (Mamaweswen) by visiting her at 473B Hwy 17 West, Cutler, ON or by calling her at (705) 844-2021 ext.310 or Toll Free at 1-844-864-0523.


Dan Pine Healing Lodge

200 Anishnabe Point Rd

Garden River, ON

P6A 7B2

(705) 248-2231


Benbowopka Treatment Centre

P.O. Box 568, 144 Causley St.

Blind River, ON P0R 1B0

(705) 356-1681  press2, then 3


Anishinabe Spiritual Centre - Indigenous Spirituality Centre

1091 Anderson Lake   P5E 1T1

(705) 869-4994






To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3 King James Version (KJV)



Naandwe Noojimowin "Assisting in the Healing Movement toward the Good Life"

Beauty for Ashes Program              

PROMOTIONAL VIDEO [Short  3:03] from N'Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre



PROMOTIONAL VIDEO [Long  18:27] from N'Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre