Recap: Approaching Community-Engaged Research Through a Trauma Informed Lens

March 16, 2021

We do our healing in community, we don't do it in isolation.

—Jeska Slater

CERi’s second webinar in the Remaking the Table series took place on January 20 and examined how to approach community-engaged research through a trauma informed lens. 

Trauma can be stigmatizing and isolating, and mainstream culture doesn’t always make space for its existence and its impact on people’s daily experiences.  In this sessions, three practitioners spoke to Jackie Wong, CERi's Community Strategic Initiatives Associate, on how to use trauma-informed approaches to community-engaged work.

SFU Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences Lyana Patrick spoke about the power of language and how the words we use can bring us closer together or divide us with our research partners.  She focused on how ceremony can provide a space for people to come together in conversation and asking the question on who is best suited to do this work, noting that we must be open to the messiness and uncertainty with a trauma informed research approach.

Jeska Slater gave insight into the importance of developing relationships in working with communities.  Slater is an experienced facilitator and an Indigenous Social Innovation Coordinator for Skookum Lab in Surrey.  She asked the question of what kinship looks like for Indigenous communities and highlighted the need and willingness to listen deeply and respect others to guide this work. 

Elder William Thomas shared his experiences of working with individuals that have not only dealt with their own trauma but also intergenerational trauma. He noted that trauma bestowed upon communities is heavy and intense and prayer is a form of connection to peace, resilience and spiritual selves.

In closing, each guest shared a brief vision for a future of trauma sensitive work in community-engaged research, which uncovered the importance of building relationships with others with community-engaged research. We can work towards reducing stigma and addressing trauma at multiple levels.

It is about listening to the community—deep listening. 

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