Conference aims to stop family violence

Ending the cycle of family violence in aboriginal communities drew almost 200 people to a conference entitled “Preserving the Family Circle” that started here Tuesday morning.
The three-day conference—organized by Weechi-It-Te-Win Family Services and a host of local organizations dealing with family violence—aims at sharing information and creating strategies to deal with these issues.
“We know in the last five to 10 years, there’s been a lot of violent deaths in our communities,” said Brenda Whitehead of the Weechi-It-Te-Win training and learning centre.
“Everybody has experienced it. Everybody’s aware of those things but how do we go about helping each other,” she added.
“We want people to know that family violence is an issue we have to deal with openly and that we have the people locally to provide healing,” added Gina Wonfor-Keast, staff manager with Weechi-It-Te-Win Family Services.
Representatives from all 10 area First Nations and local friendship centres, as well as delegates from Atikokan, Thunder Bay, Manitoba, and Minnesota, are attending the conference, which continues Wednesday and Thursday at La Place Rendez-Vous here.
International speakers such as Bea Shewanda and Cecelia Firethunder today discussed inter-generational trauma and how family violence, as well as physical and sexual abuse, could continue in the next generation if issues such as residential schools aren’t resolved.
“As native people, we have to tell the truth about ourselves,” Firethunder told the crowd Tuesday morning. “We have to embrace the pain of the past to move forward as a people.”