VIU’s first Indigenous counsellor addresses past trauma to help future generations

Vancouver Island University

from Nanaimo News Now:

Vancouver Island University-Nanaimo’s first Indigenous counsellor is addressing trauma from her student’s past in order to help set the next generation up for a more productive future.

Noelle Hanuse, from Oweekeno and Klahoose First Nations, started at the university’s Nanaimo campus in January. She already has roughly 20 clients, half of whom identify as Indigenous.

“I see my work as soul work,” she said. “The soul has been wounded with historic trauma and I meet a client soul to soul. Because of the systemic genocide that’s been inflicted on many First Nations people, the interventions must address this specific trauma to that individual or group.”

Depression and anxiety are the two most common symptoms she treats.

One idea Hanuse suggested was a Gladue Factors style report for Indigenous students coming to university.

In the court system, Gladue Factors are a report submitted to the judge explaining the Indigenous history of the accused and how colonialism and residential schools have affected them. It’s taken into consideration during sentencing and works to mitigate the sentence.

A Gladue Factors style report for Indigenous students would examine their past and be applied to their schooling.

“Students are experiencing historic and ongoing colonial trauma and sometimes it can get in the way of their studies because of increased anxiety and all those feelings of a lack of self-worth and major family obligations,” she said.

Having experienced the chaos of a residential school system herself, attending the Sechelt Indian Residential School from 1964 to 1970, Hanuse said being removed from family-oriented societies can significantly hamper students.

Read more here.