Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to a few questions we hear often.
Negative stigma/misconception is combated through historical education, extensive family violence prevention training, various workshops, network with collaterals ie. agencies/universities/colleges, providing excellent resources and modalities to promote wellness.
Funding is always a struggle based on community size. This limit the number of counsellors, as well; the salaries do not meet the expertise they carry. Solidarity with external communities will support the work of GFASS and somehow can influence the governmental bodies providing financial support.
GFASS has diligently exposed community and visitors about the colonization, assimilation and cultural genocide of Ǫgwehǫ:weh peoples and how these practices of the settler society have impacted our people by means of identity, family violence, traditional practices etc. This provides an understanding for people on their healing path to process the impacts of these acts and move forward. This healing is done on the levels of mind, body, spirit and includes intergenerational healing.
By seeking the knowledge of our elders and other community resources as well as training, is the goal of GFASS to ensure cultural knowledge and competence amongst all the staff and volunteers.
Become more consistent with cultural approaches. Currently it does depend on the worker to initiate whether they approach the culture on their own or by bringing in resources to assist.
This depends on the staff. Some bring in their teachings and intertwine it into their practice. Others may bring in guest speakers, resource people from the community. There is a cultural package that is implemented at the onset of service and to educate community and others on the impacts of colonization and assimilation.
Employees are to be positive role models; to incorporate cultural/traditional values and knowledge whenever possible in-service delivery; treat each other with a good mind; and to practice personal self-care and healing.
Most staff are of First Nation descent. In our job postings, it is advertised that Native ancestry is preferred. This is not done for reasons of racism; however, due to acts of colonization, oppression, cultural genocide, and assimilation many of our community members want a First Nations person to assist them as there is a better understanding of how historical issues have impacted their lives.
The holistic approach taken involves paying attention to all parts of one’s self and this includes the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellness of someone. Spiritual growth is focused on and this is very different from mainstream approaches. Ganǫhkwásra` does not consider spirituality/spiritual wellness to be the same as religion.
Ganǫhkwásra` also believes that every person has the potential to be in a position to have behaviors that influence being the victim or perpetrator. This is one of the reasons why taking responsibility for ourselves and how we treat others is highly valued.
Taking responsibility for one’s actions and well-being is highly valued within the teachings of the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse); therefore, it is critical to create a service model that exemplifies responsibility. It is also strongly believed that our original traditional teachings are of great importance to one’s personal healing journey by means of strengthening identity, family, clan, nation, and community. Integrating teachings and mainstream approaches within one’s healing journey plan of care ensures a balanced and holistic approach is taken to attaining personal growth/goals.
The model is holistic programs based on Ǫgwehǫ:weh (original beings) teachings that integrate mind, body and spirit. The teachings combined with mainstream counselling techniques, provide a basis for helping one to accept the responsibility for their total being. Abusive behaviours and their generational sources are explored in a caring, non-judgmental way.
These values promote responsibility to everyone’s roles and responsibilities as Haudenosaunee people. They promote the respect, kindness and caring that build upon a person’s well-being on a holistic level. They also promote responsibility as a community by reinforcing that violence, in any shape or form, is not our way! It is our traditional way to keep our families together whenever possible and this process encourages and supports this. When families cannot stay together GFASS encourages and supports healing so they can be healthier parents whether together or not.
First Nations women from time immemorial have had an important place in their society. They bring new life to the community, our children, who are our most precious resource. We, as a community affirm respect for our women and uphold the principles of the centrality of the family in our society. Recognizing the existence of family violence, we take the responsibility to support victims in time of crisis, to provide shelter, support and counselling As such, our mission is:
To provide, through a non-profit charitable organization, for the stabilization, maintenance, revitalization and enhancement of the family structure in a culturally sensitive manner.
- To provide for the stabilization requirements of families in distress.
- To provide for the maintenance of family units and individuals.
- To provide for the revitalization of the restored family units and individuals.
- To provide for the enhancement of restored family units and individuals.
Interconnectedness, respect, harmonious living amongst all entities (inclusive of mother earth and all universal energies).
The translation of Ganǫhkwásra` – “love among us” speaks volumes to this question. It is what we pursue for our people, our community and to our fellow brothers and sisters to have peace, friendship and respect amongst us. With love among us it will promote these values underlying us as a people.