Students in the Mi’kmaq-Maliseet Social Work program at St. Thomas University (STU) showcased their work and passions at a Social Action Fair on unceded Mi’kmaq territory at Mount Allison University in Sackville on Dec. 10.
At the event, the students highlighted the need for action on many issues affecting their communities, including missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two spirit people; Indigenous suicide prevention; breaking down stereotypes against Indigenous peoples; Indigenous wellness for university students; and harm reduction.
Prior to the event, CBC radio interviewed two of the students on the morning shows in Moncton and Fredericton: Bridgette Moulton from Neqotkuk (Tobique) First Nation, and Leurette LaBobe from Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton.
During the interviews, the students explained that the Mental Health Act does not include any Indigenous cultural perspectives, and that needs to be changed.
“That’s important to us,” LaBobe told the CBC, “because I’ve seen people be treated like criminals and be hogtied on the side of the road or be straitjacketed and put into a padded room. That person did nothing but have a hard time, and was hurting, and they just they couldn’t handle it anymore. They were treated so terribly, and that’s not fair, no one should be treated that way. That’s where in my heart, there needs to be changes.”
Moulton explained to the CBC that her goal is to indigenize social work and social policies by using a strength-based approach, which focuses on positive aspects of situations, “rather than just the bad, the struggles, and what we’ve been through with colonization.” She wants to help the youth “to look from a perspective of resilience, and to see that my elders and traditional knowledge keepers are being heard.”
Susan O’Donnell writes for the NB Media Co-op.