Why is she an amazing and worthy Social Justice All-Star? Because sometimes the quiet work is the best work. Cathy is the only female counsellor at New Leaf, a men's program based out of New Glasgow, N.S. She working with men who have been violent, supporting them to accept their responsibilities and just as importantly, assisting them in finding their humanity. Cathy is a mother and a provider for her extended family. She is also the daughter of a residential school survivor and she describe herself as 'a Native women living and working in the dominant society that doesn't always value my Nativeness.' Her approach to address the genocide perpetrated against her family and her community is to bring aboriginal peoples and non-Natives together, to educated, share and honour First Nation's cultural practises, and restore right relationships. Cathy builds peace and social justice through accountability and understanding, and she uses her presence and her words to bring reconciliation and justice to the world. Cathy would see herself as someone who doesn't like pomp or fuss and goes quietly about her life doing this work because that's just what you do.
Steve Law is a contributor to the New Leaf blog. He is a father, partner, Mediator with Emerge International, Novelist of Tailings of Warren Peace, Farmer at SunRoot Farm and Social Transformation Program Coordinator - Tatamagouche Centre. - This particular piece written by Steve Law was published in 'This' magazine in their January 2015 edition.
A group of men (and one male and female counsellor) sit in a circle on the mismatched couches
and chairs in the New Leaf lounge. Each session begins with an introduction of who is new to
the circle and who may have been there many times before. Each person is greeted and
welcomed and acknowledged for their presence. Then the conversation circulates throughout
the room, and each guy has an opportunity to do a “check-in” to see what’s new, what’s
happening in their lives, what challenges are arising. And things emerge, as they generally do,
about someone’s relationship, a court appearance, an issue that arose at a job, about their
partner, spouse or children. Maybe something bothered them that day, or maybe they just miss
their kids. Sometimes the conversation circles right around the room, and sometime it settles
on one individual’s situation or circumstance. At times the facilitators or the other guys will
probe and prod to unearth the tension, or fear or sorrow that underlies the mask the guys have
worn to group that day. And as stories are unearthed, the guys will begin to talk to one another,
challenge one another with suggestions, reminders, feedback and advice. The group process is
a form that holds men to account for one another. Using the experience of the more seasoned
participants, men share their own learning and transformational journeys of having been new
and frustrated, fearful and uncertain. The process allows men to be seen and listened to by
their peers. In this way, the men have an opportunity to build a better understanding of their
actions in the world and to unlearn the violence, control, sexism, and attitudes which have
governed their behaviours and affected their relationships. It is not an easy place for men to go,
but when they do, transformation becomes possible. It is a simple and yet profound process of
listening and dialogue where important truths can be shared and men can be themselves and
share their struggles, their frailty and their humanity, and ultimately, to learn how to be better
men in this world.
Steve Law is a contributor to the New Leaf blog. He is a father, partner, Mediator with Emerge International, Novelist of Tailings of Warren Peace, Farmer at SunRoot Farm and Social Transformation Program Coordinator - Tatamagouche Centre.
New Leaf and community contributors