A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada
"In the west, the name "L'Assomption Sash" gave way to today's term "the Metis sash." It has been said that this likely occurred because many of the sash-wearing voyageurs were of mixed-blood, and the sash was most popular among the Metis of the Red River. Today, the "Metis sash" continues to be an integral part of Metis cultural celebrations."
"Elder, in my dreams that are nightmares I keep seeing the same Black Wolf, running scared in an alley, scavenging for food."
"Yes, go on." The Elder said
"In the nightmare, I'm with another man who I don't know and can't see. His presence is beside me as we've cornered the Black Wolf in fear. I see only the man's rifle barrel in the dream."
"As the barrel of the rifle rises, the man beside me whispers:
"Shhhh! Be Still! I've got this."
"Elder, I'm so confused."
"Go on, spoke the Elder to the young man. Tell me more. I wish to learn."
The young man continued as he sat with the Elder on the Elder's blanket, laying upon the ground.
"You shared with me long ago, a story of The White Wolf and the Black Wolf battling inside of me."
"You taught me and have guided me to learn the lesson of the story."
"Yes. You asked me which wolf wins the battle. The story I shared tells us that the Wolf that wins inside is the one we feed."
"You've helped me learn. You've guided me. I have learned and I am grateful."
"There is a rifle barrel on the Black Wolf in my dream, Elder."
"Shhh, I've got this," says the man in the dream."
"In my dream, as the rifle rises, the Black Wolf moves to a Tall Wood Fence between trees. There, he paces, fear in his eyes."
The young man went on.
"I watch as the man's finger starts it's draw to fire at the wolf for the kill."
"Elder, I wake up from this dream every time, cold, sweating, and very afraid. As if I must now run."
"Tell me more young-man, coaxed the Elder."
"I wake up afraid. I'm not in fear of the Black Wolf." The young man says with a mimicking of the Elder's Authority."
"Why the fear on waking?" Asks the Elder.
"I'm afraid of the man."
"Why is that?"
"As he draws on the trigger of the rifle to kill The Black Wolf in the dream, I charge the man, knocking him to the ground. I throw the rifle away behind me. I then run at The Black Wolf, screaming, "Go-Run-Be Free."
"Yes." Says the Elder with the tiniest of grins. "You're confused?"
"Yes" Answers the young man.
"I feel defeated."
"I've fed The White Wolf inside as you guide me to do. The White Wolf is alive in me now. I'm grateful and more at peace. But I'm afraid of the man with the gun. I have a new question."
"I don't understand why I fight in the dream to save The Black Wolf that's caused me so mush suffering? Can you help me understand why I fight the man to save the Black Wolf's Life?"
The Elder put his eyes closed. He lowered his head. His breath came out in a new rhythm-he spoke with whispered words for a minute that the young man could not hear clearly nor understand.
After a number of breaths and whispers, the Elder raised his head to speak.
"You've heard the story I shared. You've learned deeply. For that, you should be gently proud. You've followed my guidance willingly. As you fell along the way, together we helped you dust off from the fall to begin from the place of the fall to move you forward."
The young man nodded his head. "Yes. I'm so happy to learn what you teach."
"You heard me too," said the Elder. "When I taught you that to be whole in this life one must stand in the awe of only the life that is today. You heard me and have learned how better ground yourself in today. You've learned willing to look back at the past for reminders of your suffering-but in doing so, you've learned well how not to stare."
The Elder smiled.
"You've learned how to better accept others for who they are as you've learned to accept your own frailty as a man. You heard me and trust that like us all, the others in our lives most close, carry with them along life's way the same two wolves, battling for control."
"You accepted with the teaching that every man carries a bag of snakes that will bite and tempt our darkness with the venom of the snake we call insecurity."
"Yes. I understand all of this. But, The Black Wolf, Elder, is ready to die inside. Why won't I allow him to be killed?"
The Elder paused before he spoke. "As you've heard before, my son. Hear me again now."
"The Wolf we feed inside becomes the one that lives strongest. The one that is your gentleness, compassion. Your empathy for others. The honourable part of you is what lives when White Wolf is alive."
"White Wolf alive inside, permits your wounded spirit to grow as the spirit learns and with work, the spirit inside the man thinks differently, speaks differently, and does differently than before the White Wolf received good food-opening you up to accept her love, compassion, empathy and care for yourself."
"My son, the one we feed-lives as the Wolf inside that is our power. The power is the energy of our reconciled spirit."
"I want the White Wolf to live and I want to Black Wolf to die, Elder. I want my spirit reconciled. Why will I not allow the rifle to fire?"
The Elder then only smiled before he spoke.
"We are not to kill inside the Black Wolf that across our life's-way has brought us into places that caused us and others so much needless harm."
The young man stared at the Elder. Confusion lit up his eyes.
"We aren't to kill The Black Wolf, young man."
"Why, you ask?"
The young man nodded, waiting for the reply.
"White Wolf. She is our gentleness."
"Black Wolf, our Protector."
"Should Black Wolf perish, we risk that we might perish as well."
"He is Our Protector?" Asked the young man.
The Elder guided: "We need The Black Wolf to defend us in this too-often evil and dangerous, still quite troubled world. For as the Black Wolf in you once ruled your thoughts, your words, and your deeds. So-to is the Black Wolf acting out his need for power in others."
"Why can't I let the Black Wolf Die. White Wolf is strong now. What am I to do if I'm not to kill Black Wolf and allow White Wolf her reign inside?"
"Therein, lies our next lesson. We're not to kill the Black Wolf my Son."
The Elder then took one final short pause.
"Now you can learn to allow yourself to be a fully honourable man."
"As you learn now, White Wolf will have freedom to walk with you inside without tether. Keep feeding her good food. Respect her gentleness. Allow her to keep you gentle-this a man must learn to do."
"You are becoming a man, my son. The Elder spoke to the young man with gentle, compassionate authority.
"While you master the ART now of being a GOOD man, my son. I can teach you how to keep Black Wolf alive inside and in his place."
The young man pleads for wisdom from his Elder.
"Where is that Elder? Where is that place Black Wolf is to be kept inside?"
The Elder leaned in, looking into the eyes of the younger man, speaking directly with wisdome through the eyes and into the young man's soul.
"With you and White Wolf, together alongside your inner-spirit."
Silence . . . . .. . . .. .
"For now, my son . . . . . . . . . ..."
"White Wolf is our gentleness. Black Wolf our Protector. As we need Black Wolf with us, White Wolf needs him too. As her protector, he's there to call her back to the side of spirit when her compassion has caused her to trust too much."
"Where does Black Belong?" The Elder mirrored back to the young man a final time.
"In his Masters control . . . . always protecting inside . . . . disciplined rightly as his Master learns the necessity and art of keeping Black Wolf tethered."
"Alive my son. But on a leash. That's where Black Wolf will now learn with you he belongs."
"Black Wolf needs a Master. Self-Control with new wisdom will become for you his leash."
"Go and think on these things now. Come back when you're ready to learn more."
With that, for the day, the young man and Elder parted.
Later on, in sleep, the dream that was a nightmare returned as it had arrived in the blackness to haunt the young man, night after night for weeks.
The man was there. Black Wolf was at the fence, pacing back and forth in fear.
"Shh." Says the man in the dream, as he'd said in every dark night before.
"I've got this."
This time in the dream . . . . there was no raising of a barrel with the rifle.
"Kneel down with me, " whispered the man.
"Black Wolf will trust. . . . . . kneel-be still."
"Breathe peace with me . . . . while we wait."
For the past couple weeks, I've been working on the web-site. I've opportunity next month to complete the circle that defines the last thirteen-years of my life. In September, I'm returning to my former employer, BC Emergency Health Services, to share with Paul Swain, Director and his team, all the discoveries I've made up until now across my journey.
As this suggested I should put some work into the site, I thought I'd kill a couple of birds with one rock, and use what I've now put on the home-page here for others who follow this work who share my lived experience with trauma.
What is Trauma? It's simply a word. A word that points out that we've actually suffered a traumatic-stress induced brain injury. An injury that if we aren't guided near-immediately towards managing the after-math, leads to mental health consequences including PTSD, Depression, Compassion Fatigue, and Substance/Alcohol Use Disorders:
- Study: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Neurobiological Impact of Psychological Trauma
- Study: Recovery From Psychological Trauma: Judith Herman, M.D
- Study: Mental Disorder Symptoms among Public Safety Personnel in Canada
- Study: Comorbidity of Psychiatric Disorders and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
In Canada, estimates derived from reported cases of Post Traumatic Stress suggest that almost 9% of the 40,000 troops deployed in our most recent conflicts are living now with mental health challenges due to Post Traumatic Stress Injury suffered in deployment. I found this statistic some time ago. Today the total estimates are much higher.
In the United States, estimates suggest that a military veteran will die by his/her own hand every 65 minutes. The V.A. in the states released these statistics in 2013. That's 22 fine, brave, ramparts meeting their demise every single day. Since returning from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nearly 500,000 Military Personnel have returned to the United States living with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury.
In both Canada and in the United States: We've now lost more of our Veterans to suicide than were lost during actual combat over-seas (Afghanistan and Iraq). The long, drawn-out, never-ending cycle of war, is doing emotional damage as well to our populations on the whole.
Studies suggest that in a human life-time most of us will experience at least a single traumatic event with potential to cause PTSD and other mental health issues.
Emergency First Responders are said to experience traumatic stress at rates of 20-35% above the rest of humanity. If you have lived through physical, emotional, sexual abuse or assault, these are all area's in the darkness of human life contributing to experiences of PTSD, Anxiety and Depression.
Tema Conter Memorial Trust in Ontario is tracking suicide in public safety workers in Canada. At last report, in 2017 we lost 14 First Responders to suicide. In 2018, I'm personally informed of 4 tragic losses for First Responder families in BC alone.
We're losing citizens from the general population too. For far too long, mental health care has frankly not been on governments in Canada's radar to the level the issues actually demand. Policy-makers love to profess that the issues that lead to suicide are 'complex'.
Suicide is depression's monster that those who suffer the condition must face inside. It's only when we learn that the monster lies that we have any ammunition at all with which to fight it. I survived my carried-out suicide attempt in 2015. It was the end-game of depression that took me there, as suicide is depressions final symptom that hopes, as all other of these conditions hopes to do: to take us out of life permanently.
I no longer believe a single lie my own depression hopes to tell.
I encourage all who visit here to stop believing that inner-monster as well. If ever it nags at you to die? Simply thank depression for the reminder of how brilliantly precious your life is each and every time the monster howls.
In the end, with depression, that's how I've learned to win.
One such loss is one too many frankly. I'm mindful of my personal efforts in BC over 13 years to raise the alarm on this issue. For too long, my own pleas and the pleas of many others, frankly and tragically, went unheard to the level that demonstrated our governments weren't taking the issue seriously.
Words? That's one thing. Right action, quite the other.
Have things changed over 13 years? Yes, they have. But not near dramatically enough, unfortunately, to satisfy me.
Our First Nations People and others living in the cultural melting-pot in Canada experience high-levels of mental health issues related to psychological trauma. This high rate of suffering is due to histories of inter-generational trauma or due to experiences of war in home nations, perhaps due to witnessing the Inhumane Experience in our World of Genocide.
The reality of the abuses upon Indigenous souls in this country may now be more out in the open. As we move slowly forward to address the harms left behind by colonization in Canada, most tragically in the exposed histories of Canada's Residential Schools: I unfortunately still today hear from far too many that suggests we remain on this issue Unrepentant.
I've personally committed to be part of the process of First Nations/Settler Society Reconciliation. I fully support the implementation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I fully support that as a nation we together address the 94 calls to action shared with us by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada.
To better inform myself on Indigenous Reconciliation and healing Issues, I studied these courses and materials, available online:
- Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education-EdX
- Trauma & First Nations People: Manitoba Trauma Information & Education Centre
- Healing Trauma Through a First Nations Lens
- We Were Children
Persons acting as Care-Givers, whether at home living with and caring for a chronically ill family member or elderly parent or working as Care-Givers in Profession, these dedicated folks in our midst experience extremely high-levels of Burn-out and Compassion Fatigue.
We are just now accepting the reality of these issues in the Care-Giver Community. Secondary Traumatic Stress and/or Chronic Stress is the culprit for many care-givers in our communities.
I argue alongside Dr. Robert Sapolsky of Stanford and many others today:
Our understanding of the damage to health of stress impositions put upon the human organism are underestimated. The high-levels of stress we're living with in today's societies simply can no longer be ignored. Stress does, in fact, paint a picture of itself that determines it to be a killer.
This view is supported by Dr. Sapolsky's studies and it's rightly supported as well by Sir Michael Marmot and the Whitehall Studies.
Both together share bodies of their life's work that point out rather clearly that predictors of societal well-being and predictors of positive and negative health outcomes in the society on the whole, can be understood best with reflection upon the Social Determinants of Health.
I sincerely feel we'd be wise as a society to accept the findings of these researchers with open-minds; and should we not consider far more seriously that it is the impact of stress, mismanaged, that is at the root, along with citizen-traumatization of many of our social and physical ills in Canada?
After studying these issues, I'm personally convinced we should.
We live together in a very vibrant, but some-what potentially crazy-making society. We're competing together for brass rings that once we catch one, even the next ring won't be enough. Some argue that our true nature is actually altruistic ahead of the mating-rituals associated with need in primates to seek dominance over one-another.
Another virtual mentor, Bruce Lipton, puts it simply like this:
"(Want to know what ails you?)"
"It's the environment (you live in-socially and physically) stupid."
Bruce Lipton shares these words with a soul fixed-upon the well-being of all in humankind. The point is, while we focus on individual illnesses and symptoms of these sicknesses, we miss that our struggles with ill-health are the product of human-interaction with the social/physical environments we live in.
I've experienced this to be true. For me, there is no longer any inner-debate: If we leave out much of what we need to understand our illnesses, hoping that taking a pill can fix everything we experience as illness and disease, we're limiting ourselves, and our potential for recovery.
I've many such acquired virtual gurus in my life today. Including on addiction, Dr. Gabor Mate. Towards addictions, Dr. Mate says the same:
- How To Build A Culture of Better Health: Dr. Gabor Mate
- Stress Portrait of a Killer: Dr. Robert Sapolsky & Sir Michael Marmot
- The Whitehall Studies
Please give this sense of their's some personal thought. If were honest with ourselves, chronic-stress and trauma permeates our society. There are many struggling with PTSD, Depression, and Substance/Alcohol use as adults having experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences that sets us up for later in life dysfunction. Others are struggling due to issues of violence and domestic violence. Some of us are victims of crime, accidents, medical-trauma, and natural disasters.
All such human experience can traumatize leading to illness.
There are studies today linking postpartum depression and the trauma of child-birth.
A new kid on the block for our society to consider is the issue of Sanctuary Trauma put upon us by those not rightly informed about traumatic stress, traumatic stress injury, and resulting conditions.
"Sanctuary Trauma and the 'Sacred' ... A concept developed by Dr. Steven Silver, sanctuary trauma“occurs when an individual who suffered a severe stressor next encounters what was expected to be a supportive and protective environment' and discovers only more trauma;." ~ Sanctuary Trauma and the 'Sacred' – Social Health
Sanctuary Trauma: Dr. Sandra Bloom M.D: Dr. Bloom shares her a brief introduction to the issue. I can share that all those I personally know or who I've coached towards finding for themselves clinical care express stories of a large number of sanctuary traumas inflicted upon them by family, systems-of-care, friends, community, and the society on the whole.
There is for us all much hope today. The reality of Trauma is opening up. The First Responder survivor-circle I'm today blessed to be part of share an expression from time-to-time:
"Heal Trauma? Heal The World."
I've come to a place in my recovery to share this journey mindful of the words left behind long ago from Socrates:
"All I know. . .is that I know nothing."
To appreciate as best we can all the issues we confront, the best defense is a good offense: Maintaining an open-mind ready to learn that which for a very long time has been buried away from conscious view: This will prop us up as we venture towards healing, which I understand completely, for many of us is a frightening unknown.
Much more is known about these issues today then when I started my own journey back in 1994. The emerging future holds much promise for those facing these challenges moving forward.
Neuroscience, for instance, is spawning in a way that over time will provide a game-changer for all of us, I suspect. In fact, the game's already changing as study of the human brain is now finally entering the discourse of science, with findings now being shared for us mainstream:
As frightening as it seems to face our dragons and to work with those who can support us as we walk through the recovery journey: Our lives matter-and quality of life restoration (or establishment) is the core goal of accepting the need to enter into a Trauma Recovery Process.
Trauma Recovery is about agreeing with reality, and it's about LEARNING how to peel back the layers of complexity like we might tackle peeling back an onion. There will be many tears. There is much hope. It's my personal hope that with right help you'll be able to do what we all need to do most:
Trauma leaves behind MUCH emotional and physical pain.
In order to get through it, we must find right support to hold space with us as we learn with our trauma-informed helper's support, how-to feel it all safely, on-way to healing it right.
It's my hope that for visitors to The Trauma Recovery Blog:
I've prepared the information I've found along the way well-enough that you'll have that place to start working with yourselves that wasn't in my past available to me.
For a visit to the updated web-site, please visit, The Trauma Recovery Blog
Darren Michael Gregory
Associate Member American Academy Of Experts In Traumatic Stress.
EMS: Police & First Responders
Mental Health Services
Middle East Conflicts
Post Traumatic Growth
Post-Traumatic Stress Injuty