I have been supporting aboriginal men on southern Vancouver Island with both facilitated group and one-on-one interventions for over five years. What I have observed time and again is the very strong need for therapeutic support; and at the same time, the lack of motivation to show up. My understanding of this dichotomy after being exposed to First Nations culture and the history of colonization and its abusive/traumatic impacts, is that there is a low sense of self due to the messages that these men have heard repeatedly from the dominant culture.
- How to overcome this low self image that these men are presenting?
- What actions can communities take to reinforce that these men matter?
My experience has been that we as a community need to show up for these men, too. We need to offer these men the necessary supports so they recognize we see them. The feedback I have been receiving over the past six months since I have been facilitating a parenting program for men who have been involved with domestic violence, is that we need more of these groups; men need more opportunities to heal. I agree with these assertions. I came across an excellent paper out of Australia that speaks to the importance of men’s support groups.
One major challenge that I have observed during my years involved with local community social services is that there is a lack of funding for men’s wellness; most the dollars are targeted towards women and children. This has never made any sense to me since the funders are missing a very important part of the equation: men! What I hope will happen in the near term is that feedback will start to arise from communities asking funders to include men’s wellness programs such as support groups in their mandates to balance the equation. One example of more focused funding for men is in Northern BC, Canada where they recognize that men need this support.
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