Equay Wiigamig Hosts Domestic Violence Conference - P2
“Strengthening the Circle – Breaking the Cycle”
Red Lake’s Equay Wiigamig Women’s Shelter hosted a domestic violence conference at the Seven Clans Event Center in Red Lake on Tuesday and Wednesday October 18 and 19, 2011. The theme of the conference was “Strengthening the Circle – Breaking the Cycle.”
There were more than 100 registrants for the two-day conference which appropriately coincides with October as being Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The conference was geared to service providers and those in the helping professions. Equay Wiigamig hosted a similar conference last May for law enforcement personnel.
The conference began on Tuesday with registration from 8 until 9 AM. At 9 AM conference emcee James Cloud, Jr. introduced Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain, Jr. who provided a welcome message that included a “personal” story.
Counselor and Psychologist Jacob Flores opened and closed the conference with lengthy presentations. The first session lasted from 9:30 until noon and was entitled “Roots of Our Pain.” With humor, wit and charm, Flores gave an extensive background on what has become a recognized problem that must be dealt with across Indian Country, colonization and historical trauma.
Flores was followed by a working lunch and a film entitled “My Three Friends,” a dramatic story about the difficult path that must be faced by three young women living on the reservation. The film was written, directed and edited by the students for Red Lake’s own Project Preserve back in 2001. Watch the film on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CmJ1lwIvuA
The video sponsored by Equay Wiigamig, opened with a quote by its Director Darlene Lussier. “(The) history of the Anishinaabe taught respect for all living thing. From a rock to the sky, from a tree to a blade of grass, from the animals to all winged that fly. To the women, givers of life that bear children, and hold our future. All were respected, nourished, honored, and protected with pride. To be, to become, to better yourself has become a survival tactic for today’s Indian Women. Driven from their home’s by abuse, violent behavior, women and children are alone.”
The film was followed by a report by Leonard Red Cloud from the Red Lake Department of Public Safety who told all assembled “Why I Became Involved.”
Todd and Shari Smith talked about “Domestic Violence: Batterer’s re-education program” from 2:30 to 4 PM on Tuesday. The Program is quite successful reported the Smiths. Two types of clients go though the Program, some are sent by the courts, but encouragingly many volunteer for the Program recognizing a problem in themselves. The programs success is measured by the fact that 98% of those who are referred or volunteer for the Program are not/do not return.
This report on the re-education Program was appropriately followed by three courageous men who each gave ten minute presentations on their experience in the Re-education Program under the title of “His Story.”
Day One closed out with entertainment on the electric piano by Michelle Mountain whose soothing music quieted the crowd.
Day two started off short presentations in the morning by U.S. Assistant Attorney Kimberly Hare on the “Tribal Law and Order Act,” FBI Victim Specialist Karen Seviour, and Victim/Witness Consultant from the US Attorney’s Office, Joyce Roy.
Next up was Beverly May from Red Lake Tribal Court on “Prosecution of a Domestic Violence Case,” then a report by Tribal Attorney Michelle Johnson on the “Red Lake Tribal Code,” and last but not least Stephanie Cobenais gave a report on “General Crime.”
After a working lunch that included Hand Drum Singing with James Cloud and Athena Cloud, a very brave young woman shared her experience as a victim of domestic violence, “Victim Story.” She wishes to remain anonymous.
Two panel presentations by the staff at Equay Wiigamig on “Healing Stages” and and an “Advocate Panel” followed next in the afternoon. Participants included; Victoria Fineday, Lori Washington, Rose Barrett, Karen Nedeau, Irma Beaulieu, and Linda Omen.
Jacob Flores, mentioned earlier, closed out the conference with a positive message that included reasons to feel upbeat about how things are going, in a presentation billed as “The Ever Present Voice of Change.”
Equay Wiigamig Director Darlene Lussier reports that the Women’s Shelter employs nine full time staff, and six part time.
Keynote Facilitator Jacob Y. Flores
Flores has worked extensively with over seventy five native communities throughout the United States and Canada. His background is grounded in the fields of education, mental/behavioral health, community mobilization and strategic planning and provision of therapy in individual and group settings.
A Vietnam veteran, Flores holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, which he attained from Arizona State University 1974. He has a long term relationship with First Nations Health Canada, serving the social service providing community (child placement and treatment communities)
He has extensive experience working with Community Gang Intervention/Prevention coalitions, training and consultation to address the issues of domestic and family violence, and provides Mentor Training sessions to encourage “healthy adults” to participate in the lives of youth.
About the Clothesline Project
The Clothesline Project is a national art project started by women in Massachusetts as a memorial to the victims and survivors of domestic violence. The shirts then are hung on a clothesline and displayed in a public location. The purpose is create a visual memorial to the casualties of the war against women.
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women started the state clothesline in June 1992 in Brainerd, Minnesota at a statewide conference for battered women and advocates. In October 1992, they co-sponsored a statewide hanging of shirts in Minneapolis with the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault in which over 300 shirts were hung by participants from all over the state to commemorate their own, or other women’s and children’s experience as victims of violence. Included were shirts designed by the Arts Against Domestic Violence for each of the women and children who died from domestic violence in 1992.
Clotheslines from 1992 to the present honoring the women and children in Minnesota killed as a result of domestic violence are available for exhibit throughout the state to raise public awareness of the prevalence and severity of women and child abuse. All Clotheslines now travel to communities throughout Minnesota.
The shirts on each Clothesline are designed by volunteer artists. Most of the artists did not know the woman or child they honored with a shirt but had brief information collected mainly from news accounts. Beginning in 1993, the Clothesline has included shirts designed by family members and friends for their lost loved ones.