Cheryl Matthew

A few thoughts on Aboriginal lateral violence – what is it?

Aboriginal Lateral Violence

For a great primer on this subject see this document published by Native Women’s Association of Canada (2011) which defines it as “unlike workplace bullying, lateral violence differs in that Aboriginal people are now abusing their own people in similar ways that they have been abused. It is a cycle of abuse and its roots lie in factors such as: colonisation, oppression, intergenerational trauma and the ongoing experiences of racism and discrimination.”

See more here: 2011-Aboriginal-Lateral-Violence

Alternatively others have defined it from an appreciative inquiry approach as “lateral kindness” outlined in the they discuss lateral kindness:

Due to the traumatic effects of colonization, a foreign and polarizing problem known as “lateral violence” has become common in First Nations communities. Colonization and internalized racism are our true adversaries, yet with due diligence they can be overcome. Our traditional medicines, practices and teachings, based on a holistic model of health, give us guidance to counter the destructive effects that lateral violence has on individuals, families and communities. First Nations Health Directors identified Lateral Kindness – a counter to lateral violence – as an important topic of discussion The FNHDA issued a decree consisting of the 13 actions. The decree calls all those who share the same values to take a stand against lateral violence; it strives to ensure the wellness of a person’s physical, spiritual, mental and emotional health on an individual and collective basis. The 13 recommended actions for zero tolerance of lateral violence, which will lead to a culture of Lateral Kindness. (FNHDA Annual Report, 2014-2015, pg. 21)

To me lateral kindness is about centering our values of kindness and respect into our daily lives and into our work lives. Lateral violence continues within our communities and relations with each other on a daily basis as a result of colonization and oppression that Aboriginal people act outwardly to each other. Not only must we be aware of lateral violence but also work to enact lateral kindness to each other when we are faced with negative behaviors. I think it is also important that in communities we hold each other accountable in our actions and not continue to allow this treatment to ourselves and to others so that we begin to name these actions and stand up for our dignity and the dignity of others.

© Copyright 2017 Cheryl Matthew

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