The UBC Learning Circle presents a unique session that will begin to address the complex relationship between trauma and residential schools, brain physiology, mental health, and the criminal justice system in Canada. Join psychologist Michael Pond as he provides an overview to brain function and neurology, and explores the impact that long-term trauma can have on mental health and wellbeing. Gerald Bent will discuss a resilience-based perspective that he utilizes in his role as an Aboriginal Correctional Program Officer. A recently released Aboriginal inmate will also talk about his residential school experiences and how they may have contributed to his interaction with the criminal justice system.
Session Video here:
Date: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Participate live via videoconference OR computer webinar. Want to know the difference between videoconference and computer webinar? Click here to find out.
Michael Pond’s Session Description
If you, your parent, or even your grandparent attended a residential school, you are uniquely scarred. In fact, the residential school experience is at the root of so many of the problems plaguing First Nations people, problems I like to call Canada’s “misery” statistics: the number of children in foster care, the high rate of suicide attempts, mental health and addiction problems, and of course, incarceration rates.
At the core of what makes us human, is a warm, loving and constant attachment to our parents. Generations of First Nations children were ripped from their parents and never had that experience. And when those children became parents, very few knew how to do it, perpetuating the cycle of neglect and abuse.
Healing begins by understanding how unresolved trauma affects our brains. Michael Pond has helped hundreds of First Nations residential school survivors heal. His hour-long presentation, “Healing the Wounded Mind,” gives residential school survivors a framework for understanding why they struggle so much and shows how the damage can be undone. Pond begins by tallying the costs of colonization: the loss of culture, community, language and most importantly, family. All of these losses are bad enough. What happened in residential schools was the most damaging of all: an unprecedented level of physical, sexual and psychosocial abuse inflicted on children. Pond then explains how all this trauma affects the neurological development of a child’s brain. An abusive, neglectful childhood dramatically alters how our brains work. It disrupts our memory, our decision-making, our impulse control, our moods and our ability to form healthy relationships. Pond will illustrate the physical structure of the brain and describe how each structure is impacted by this abuse.
Pond will also reveal exciting new research on how our brains can heal, including the theory of neural plasticity. Science confirms that proven techniques like meditation, therapy and even rhythmic drumming can create a more healthy brain.
Pond scaffolds his presentation on a concept developed by Dr. Dan Siegel, called the “Triangle of Wellbeing,” illustrated in his book, The Mindful Brain. This presentation is tailored specifically to meet the needs of Canada’s First Nations inmate population.
About the Presenters
Gerald Bent is from the Lytton Indian Band located in the traditional territory of the Nlakapamux Nation. For the past 6 years he has been working at Correction Service Canada as an Aboriginal Correctional Program Officer (ACPO). He is currently on assignment to Metro Vancouver East/ New Westminster Community Parole where he facilitates culturally appropriate correctional treatment programs to the Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis offenders who are currently under the jurisdiction of the CSC. Aboriginal programs are designed in a culturally sensitive way to challenge the negative behaviours that increase the Aboriginal offenders’ risk to reoffend. Many of the Aboriginal offenders he has worked with have attended an Indian Residential School, or have been impacted by the intergenerational impacts of the residential school experience.
Gerald is also completing his Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Criminology at Simon Fraser University, after which he intends to apply to the Master of Arts program in Criminology. His proposed research intends to answer the question, “Does Aboriginal spirituality impact violent behaviours among the Aboriginal Offender population?”
Michael Pond is a psychotherapist with forty years of experience specializing in mental health and addictions. He offers individual, family, and group therapy. In two decades of private practice in the British Columbia interior, Pond developed a diverse client base, from First Nations communities, children and family agencies to school programs and court-related psychiatric services.
He lost his family, home and practice to alcoholism. He was homeless, lived in down-and-out recovery houses and went to prison for alcohol-related offences. He’s four years sober and has rebuilt everything, including a thriving practice in Vancouver, where his own battle with addiction makes him much in demand. He is also an expert in Indian Residential School trauma, healing and recovery, having now counseled hundreds of survivors.
Pond writes a bi-weekly column in the Vancouver Sun. His memoir, The Couch of Willingness, launches April, 2014.