Transcript: Patti LaBoucane-Benson: The Outside Circle | Jul 10, 2015

Piya sits in the studio. She's in her forties, and has dark brown, slightly wavy hair in a bob cut. She wears a yellow blouse and a black blazer.

She says PATTI LABOUCAN-BENSON HAS TAKEN
HER EXPERIENCES WORKING WITH
INCARCERATED YOUNG ABORIGINAL
MEN AND SHE'S PUT THEM TO PAPER.
HER TIME WITH THEM INFORMS HER
GRAPHIC NOVEL.
AND IT'S A TALE ABOUT TWO
BROTHERS, PETE AND JOEY, AND THE
PATH TOWARD HEALING THAT THEY
BOTH FACED.
AND PATTI LABOUCAN-BENSON JOINS
US NOW IN OUR STUDIO.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover is red and gray, and features a drawing of a young man holding his left arm, which is tattooed in red as if it were bleeding.
Patti appears on screen. She’s in her fifties, with straight blond hair in a bob. She’s wearing a sleeveless black dress and a beaded necklace.

Piya says HI.

Patti says HI.

Piya says WELCOME TO TORONTO.

Patti says THANK YOU.

Piya says UM, SET THIS ONE UP FOR ME.
TELL ME, WHAT'S THE PREMISE OF
YOUR BOOK?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Patti LaBoucane-Benson. Author ‘The outside circle.’ Native counselling services of Alberta.”

Patti says THE IDEA ABOUT THIS BOOK IS TO
TALK ABOUT A YOUNG ABORIGINAL
GANG-AFFILIATED MAN WHO LIVES IN
EDMONTON.
AND HE GOES THROUGH A
TRANSFORMATION.
THE BOOK IS ABOUT HEALING.
IT'S ABOUT TRANSFORMATION AND
IT'S ABOUT CHANGING MEN OF STONE
INTO MEN OF GRACE, MEN WHO ARE
KIND AND GENTLE.
IT REALLY IS ABOUT HEALING.

Piya says AND WHY DID YOU WANT TO WRITE IT?

The caption changes to “The outside circle. Mass appeal.”

Patti says WELL I'VE BEEN WORKING AT NATIVE
COUNSELLING SERVICES OF ALBERTA
FOR 20 YEARS.
SO I STARTED WHEN I WAS 12.
AND I DECIDED THAT I WANTED TO
REALLY CAPTURE A STORY THAT IS
NOT OFTEN TOLD, NOT UNDERSTOOD
BY CANADIANS, ABOUT WHAT--WHERE
THESE MEN COME FROM, AND WHAT CAN BE DONE.
WHERE IS THE HOPE AND WHERE IS
THE FUTURE OF THIS POPULATION OF PEOPLE.

Piya says OKAY, WE'RE GOING TO TALK A
LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR WORK IN A BIT.

Patti says OKAY.

Piya says BUT IN THE BOOK, SO IT'S ABOUT
PETE AND JOEY.

Patti says YUP.

Piya says TWO BROTHERS, TELL ME ABOUT THEM.

Patti says OKAY.

Piya says WHO ARE PETE AND JOEY?

Patti says SO PETE AND JOEY ARE--THEY LIVE
IN THE INNER CITY OF EDMONTON.
THEY'VE GROWN UP IN SERIOUS POVERTY.
THEIR MOTHER HAS A HARD LIFE.
WHEN WE MEET HER SHE IS ADDICTED
TO CRACK AND SHE LIVES WITH A
MAN WHO IS NOT VERY NICE.
AND PETE IS IN THE PROCESS OF
JUMPING INTO A GANG.
SO HIS AFFILIATION IS BECOMING SET DOWN.
AND SOME THINGS HAPPEN.
HE WINDS UP SHOOTING HIS
STEPFATHER AND HE GETS PUT INTO JAIL.
HIS YOUNGER BROTHER, JOEY, WINDS
UP IN CHILD WELFARE AND HIS MOM
IS LEFT HOMELESS.

The caption changes to “Watch past episodes of ‘The Agenda.’ Theagenda.tvo.org.”

Piya says REAL STORY?

Patti says IT'S A COMPOSITE, BUT ABSOLUTELY
IT'S THE TRUTH.
THIS IS WHAT'S GOING ON RIGHT NOW.

Piya says HMM.
SO YOU PULLED PEOPLE, YOU KNOW,
A PROTOTYPE OF--

Patti says YUP.

a Piya says OF THE PEOPLE THAT YOU'VE
WORKED WITH IN THE PAST.

s Piya says IT'S A COMPOSITE OF MANY
DIFFERENT PEOPLE THAT WE'VE
WORKED WITH.
AND SO I DID, NOT ONLY HAVE I
OVERSEEN THE IN SEARCH OF A
WARRIOR PROGRAM, WHICH WE'LL
TALK ABOUT, BUT I ALSO DID MY
PHD LOOKING AT WARRIOR PARTICIPANTS.
SO I TOOK MY DISSERTATION
FINDINGS AND WHEN I WAS
ENCOURAGED TO PUBLISH I THOUGHT
THAT I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO SPEAK
TO OTHER ACADEMICS ANYMORE.
I WANTED TO PUSH THIS
CONVERSATION OUT TO A BROADER
AUDIENCE.
AND SO WE DECIDED TO DO THE
GRAPHIC NOVEL.

a Piya says AND WHY THE GRAPHIC NOVEL,
'CAUSE THAT'S AN INTERESTING
CHOICE, RIGHT?
YOU COULD HAVE TOLD THE STORY
MANY WAYS.
WHY A GRAPHIC NOVEL?

s Piya says WELL, THERE'S TWO REASONS.
NUMBER ONE, IS I WANTED TO HIT A
YOUNGER AUDIENCE.
I DON'T WANT, I AND OTHER PEOPLE
DON'T WANT, ANOTHER GENERATION
OF CANADIANS GROWING UP, NOT
UNDERSTANDING OUR HISTORY, NOT
UNDERSTANDING WHAT'S GOING ON,
AND WHY IT'S GOING ON.
SO THIS IS A REALLY KIND OF
FRESH MEDIUM.
YOUNG BOYS LIKE IT.
YOU KNOW I WANTED A YOUNGER POPULATION.
BUT ON TOP OF THAT, WHAT IT'S
TURNED OUT TO BE IS VERY ACCESSIBLE.
AND ANYBODY CAN PICK IT UP AND
READ IT IN AN HOUR, AN HOUR AND
A HALF, AND HAVE THE FULL IMPACT
OF THE STORY.
THE OTHER THING ABOUT GRAPHIC
NOVELS IS THEY'RE ILLUSTRATED.
AND SO WE COULD DO SOME THINGS,
LIKE THE MASK, THAT YOU--WE
COULDN'T DO WITH A REGULAR BOOK.
AND WE CAN KIND OF UNFOLD THIS
SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION,
THIS--THE DEVELOPMENT OF A
POSITIVE IDENTITY, AND USE THIS
VISUAL IMAGE OF A MASK THROUGH
THE STORY TO SHOW THAT.

a Piya says I WANT TO BRING UP--WE'RE GOING
TO BRING UP, I THINK, TWO OR
THREE, UM, DRAWINGS FROM YOUR BOOK.
SO THEY'RE DONE BY AN ARTIST
NAMED KELLY MELLINGS.

Patti says YUP.

Piya says OKAY.
SO LET'S BRING THAT FIRST ONE OUT.
AND JUST--IF YOU CAN JUST WALK
US THROUGH THESE.
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING AT HERE?

A drawing pops up on screen. It shows the arm of a young man with the blood tattoo in close-up, reveling that the streams of blood contain words and come from a set of sharp weapons.

Patti says OKAY, SO THE IDEA OF THIS
PICTURE WAS, WE WERE--I'VE DONE
A LOT OF RESEARCH ON HOW IT IS
THAT YOUNG ABORIGINAL MEN ARE
GANG-AFFILIATED.
AND THIS RESEARCH LOOKS AT ALL
OF OUR COLONIAL HISTORY FROM
1763 TO THE COLONIAL HISTORY OF
NATION BUILDING, TO RESIDENTIAL
SCHOOLS, TO FORCED WELFARE, TO
THE MASS APPREHENSION OF
CHILDREN BY PROVINCIAL CHILD
WELFARE SYSTEMS, TO GANG
AFFILIATION AND CRIME.
AND SO WHAT I--THE IDEA HERE IS
THAT YOUNG ABORIGINAL
GANG-AFFILIATED MEN ARE BLEEDING
COLONIAL LEGISLATION.
THAT'S THE IDEA, IS TO TALK
ABOUT HOW THIS GANG TATTOO, THE
SYMBOL OF GANGS, THIS IS REALLY
ABOUT HISTORIC TRAUMA AND IT IS
ABOUT COLONIZATION.

Piya says OKAY, LET'S BRING THAT UP
AGAIN IF WE CAN.
CAN WE POP THAT ONE UP AGAIN?
'CAUSE I JUST WANT OUR AUDIENCE
TO SEE THERE.
SO IT SAYS INDIAN ACT THROUGH
SOME OF THE TATTOO.

Patti says YUP.

Piya says IT TALKS ABOUT ALL THESE
THINGS--

Patti says THAT'S RIGHT.

Piya says--THROUGH THE PROCESS OF
THE YEARS.

Patti says THAT'S RIGHT.

Piya says THAT VARIOUS PEOPLE HAVE
GONE THROUGH.

Patti says IN THE RIVERS OF BLOOD OF
THAT TATTOO, THAT HE REALLY IS
BLEEDING THIS LEGISLATION.
THAT WE HAVE TO LOOK TO OUR PAST
TO UNDERSTAND HOW COME YOUNG MEN
WOULD CHOOSE THIS VIOLENT
HORRIBLE LIFESTYLE OVER ANYTHING
ELSE THAT'S OFFERED TO THEM.

Piya says I'M GOING TO ASK YOU THAT
QUESTION IN A BIT.

Patti says OKAY.

Another drawing pops up. It shows a young man staring into the screen. His face is partially covered by a mask which is splintered like a smashed mirror.

Piya says OKAY, BUT LET'S KEEP GOING
THROUGH THESE PHOTOS--THESE
DRAWINGS.
LET'S BRING THE NEXT ONE UP.
ALL RIGHT, SO THERE'S THE MASK.

Patti says THAT'S RIGHT.

Piya says OKAY.

Patti says OKAY, SO THAT MASK AS WE
SEE IT THERE IS A MASK OF RAGE.
UM, IN THE--IN THE IN SEARCH OF
WARRIOR PROGRAM WE LOOK AT THIS
CONCEPT THAT ANGER IS A GIFT
FROM THE CREATOR.
ANGER IS SOMETHING THAT HELPS
MOTIVATE US TO CHANGE.
BUT RAGE IS THIS UNTETHERED
FREE-FLOATING ANGER THAT CAUSES
PEOPLE TO LOSE CONTROL AND IT
CAUSES VIOLENCE.
AND SO THAT MASK IS SUPPOSED TO
REPRESENT THAT RAGE.
AND WE USE THAT MASK TO SHOW THE
DIFFERENCE IN HIS SPIRIT, RIGHT?
AND WHO HE IS AS A MAN.
IT'S REALLY ABOUT HIS IDENTITY.
SO WHEN HE'S DOING THINGS AT THE
BEGINNING OF THE BOOK THAT ARE
VIOLENT AND AWFUL, HE HAS THIS
MASK OF RAGE.
IT'S WHO HE--IT'S THIS IDENTITY
THAT HE HAS AS A VIOLENT MAN.
AND THEN WE SEE THIS MASK, YOU
SAW IN THAT PICTURE, IT BREAKS
APART.
AND THEN AT ONE CRITICAL POINT
IN THE BOOK HE HAS AN
OPPORTUNITY TO GROUND HIMSELF IN
A POSITIVE IDENTITY AND THAT
MASK CHANGES TO REPRESENT WHAT
THAT IDENTITY IS.

Piya says OKAY, LET'S BRING UP OUR THIRD
PICTURE HERE, DRAWING I SHOULD
SAY.

Patti says YEAH.

Another drawing pops up. It shows another young man, with a shiny black and white mask. The black part forms the silhouette of a calling bear. Swirls of pink smoke float around his head.

Piya says NOT PICTURE; THERE IT IS.

Patti says SO THERE IT IS.

Piya says YEAH, THERE'S HIS MASK.
AND THAT IS REPRESENTING PETE AS
A PROTECTOR, AS A PROVIDER, A
PERSON WHO HAS A POSITIVE SENSE
OF SELF, WHO HAS CONNECTED TO
WHO HE IS AS AN ABORIGINAL MAN.
AND THAT PICTURE OF A BEAR IS A
REPRESENTATION OF HIS SPIRIT.

Piya says HMM.
I WANT TO PICK UP ON SOMETHING
FROM OUR FIRST PHOTO, THE ONE
WITH THE--ALL THE DIFFERENT
THINGS.

Patti says YEAH.
AND SO IT SHOWS PETE'S BLEEDING
ARM.
MM HMM.
DIFFERENT LEGACIES, UM, THROUGH
CANADA'S RELATIONSHIP WITH
ABORIGINAL PEOPLE, RESIDENTIAL
SCHOOLS, THE INDIAN ACT.
THERE'S ONE UP THERE, THE 60S SCOOP.

Patti says RIGHT.

A close-up of the blood tattoo drawing reveals that two of the blood rivers read “Sixties scoop” and “Residential schools.”

Piya says I THINK MOST CANADIANS
DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS.

Patti says DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT IT.

Piya says MOST HAVE AT LEAST HEARD
OF THE INDIAN ACT AND THE
LEGACIES OF THE RESIDENTIAL
SCHOOL EXPERIENCE.
TELL ME ABOUT THE '60S SCOOP.

Patti says SO, MY UNDERSTANDING OF
THE '60S SCOOP IS THAT
RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS BEGAN TO BE
CLOSED IN THE 1950S.
YOU KNOW IT WAS AN EXPERIMENT BY
THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT THAT
CHILDREN WOULD BE TAKEN AWAY,
THEY'D BE SEPARATED FROM THEIR
LANGUAGE, CULTURE, AND
SPIRITUALITY, AND THEY'D BE
ASSIMILATED INTO EUROPEAN OR
CANADIAN VALUES.
AND IN THE '50S THE GOVERNMENT
DECIDED THAT THIS EXPERIMENT
JUST WASN'T WORKING.
IT WASN'T HAVING THE OUTCOME
THAT THEY WANTED.

Piya says LET'S JUST REMIND OUR
VIEWERS THAT THE LAST
RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL JUST CLOSED A
FEW YEARS AGO.

Patti says YEAH, IN 1996, EXACTLY.
BUT THEY STARTED TO CLOSE DOWN.
SO IN THE '50S THERE WAS NO
CHILDREN ON THE CHILD WELFARE
CASELOADS 'CAUSE THEY WERE
ALL--ABORIGINAL CHILDREN WERE IN
THESE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS.
BUT AS THEY CLOSED, THE NEXT
WAVE OF ASSIMILATION WAS THE
IDEA THAT WE WOULD PLACE
ABORIGINAL CHILDREN IN GOOD
WHITE HOMES.
AND THEY WOULD LEAVE THEIR
INDIAN IDENTITY BEHIND AND
THEY'D LEARN TO BE GOOD CANADIAN
CITIZENS.
AND SO, UM, THEY REFERRED TO IT
AS THE '60S SCOOP BECAUSE CHILD
WELFARE WOULD COME TO RESERVES
AND THEY'D APPREHEND CHILDREN BY
THE BUSLOADS.
SO THEY'D FILL BUSLOADS OF
CHILDREN AND THEY'D TAKE THEM AWAY.
AND BACK THEN CHILD WELFARE WAS
A CLOSED BOOK, SO CHILDREN
DIDN'T HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO
EVER LEARN WHO THEIR BIOLOGICAL
PARENTS WERE.
THEY WERE SCATTERED ALL OVER CANADA.
SOME WERE SOLD TO THE UNITED STATES.
SOME WERE USED AS LABOURERS.
SO WHEN THEY REFER TO IT AS A
SCOOP IT WAS ABOUT THIS MASS
APPREHENSION.

Piya says AND WHEN YOU SAY THE WORD
APPREHENSION YOU MEAN THEY WERE
PHYSICALLY TAKEN--

Patti says FORCIBLY.

Piya says AGAINST THE PROTEST, IN MANY
CASES, MOST CASES--

Patti says RIGHT.

Piya says OF THEIR PARENTS.

Patti says AND THERE'S -- THERE'S A SECTION
OF THE BOOK THAT DOES GO THROUGH
THAT AND TALK ABOUT HOW
ABSOLUTELY PAINFUL AND TRAUMATIC
IT WAS FOR PEOPLE TO LOSE THEIR
CHILDREN.
AND TO HAVE THEM TAKEN AWAY, ALL
CHILDREN--ALL YOUR CHILDREN
APPREHENDED AT ONCE.

The caption changes to “A history of trauma.”

Piya says IMAGINE.

Patti says YOU KNOW, CUTTING THE CHILDREN
OUT OF THE FAMILY UNIT.

Piya says WHY DO YOU THINK WE DON'T KNOW
THIS PART OF OUR HISTORY?

Patti says WELL IT'S JUST NOT TAUGHT IN OUR
HIGH SCHOOLS.
YOU KNOW, WE--THIS IS NOT
EMBEDDED IN CANADIAN CURRICULUM YET.
IT'S A PAUCITY OF OUR EDUCATION
THAT I HAD TO DO A PHD AND FOCUS
ON THIS AS ONE OF MY AREAS OF
STUDY TO UNDERSTAND CANADIAN HISTORY.
THAT'S--THAT'S HALF THE REASON I
WROTE THIS BOOK.
I WANT YOUNG PEOPLE TO KNOW OUR
HISTORY.

Piya says HMM.
OKAY, SO PETE'S JOEY IN THE
BOOK--

Patti says YUP?

Piya says HE GETS SENT INTO FOSTER CARE.

Patti says HE DOES.

Patti says OKAY, UM, SO--SO MAKE THE TIME
LINK FOR ME, AND WE'RE TALKING
ABOUT THE '60S AND HOW CHILDREN
WERE APPREHENDED AND PUT INTO CARE.

Patti says RIGHT.

Piya says UM, NOW IN 2015--

Patti says OUR STATS ARE EVEN WORSE.

Piya says OKAY, SO THROW THEM--DO YOU KNOW THEM?

Patti says I DO KNOW OUR STATS.

Piya says YEAH, OKAY, GIVE THEM TO ME.

Patti says SO THE NATIONAL HOUSEHOLD SURVEY
SAID THAT 50 percent OF THE ALL
CHILDREN IN CARE ACROSS CANADA
ARE ABORIGINAL.

Piya says 50, 5-0?

Patti says 50.

Piya says YUP.

Patti says IN ALBERTA IT'S 68.7 percent OF ALL
CHILDREN IN CARE ARE ABORIGINAL.
WE'RE APPREHENDING CHILDREN MORE
THAN WE EVER HAVE, NOW.
AND SO JOEY'S A REPRESENTATION
OF WHAT'S GOING ON RIGHT NOW.
AND WE JUXTAPOSED IN THE BOOK
PETE'S INCARCERATION AND JOEY'S
APPREHENSION AND IN A GROUP HOME
TO SHOW THAT THEY WERE FEELING
EXACTLY THE SAME.
YOU KNOW, ONE WAS IN PRISON, ONE
WAS IN A GROUP HOME, BUT THEY
BOTH FELT DISCONNECTED.
THEY WERE LONELY.
THEY WERE COMPLETELY AWAY FROM
THEIR FAMILY AND THEY FELT VERY
HOPELESS AT THAT POINT.

Piya says OKAY, PATTI, SO THIS IS THE
SHARED EXPERIENCE, TWO BROTHERS,
DIFFERENT SITUATIONS BASICALLY,
BUT SAME EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL
EXPERIENCES FOR THEM.
I WANT TO BRING IN THE
ABORIGINAL ASPECT INTO THIS
BECAUSE IF WE JUST USE THE
STATS, WHICH IS 50 percent OF KIDS IN
CARE ARE ABORIGINAL, THAT MEANS
50 percent ARE NOT.
JUST EXPLAIN, I DON'T KNOW IF
THE WORD IS DIFFERENCE, BETWEEN
WHAT ABORIGINAL KIDS IN CARE
WOULD GO THROUGH VERSUS
NON-ABORIGINAL KIDS.

Patti says SO I THINK THE DIFFERENCE IS, IS
THAT WE NEED TO LOOK AT
APPREHENSION AND INCARCERATION
FROM A HISTORIC TRAUMA PERSPECTIVE.
AND SO, UM, ONE OF THE MOST
DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF
COLONIZATION FOR ABORIGINAL
PEOPLE HAS BEEN THE
INTERNALIZATION OF NEGATIVE
STEREOTYPES OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE
THAT EXIST IN CANADA RIGHT NOW.
AND SO, UM, IN ACADEMIA WE CALL
THAT A COLONIZED PSYCHE.
BUT WHAT THAT REALLY MEANS IS
THAT THE INTERNALIZATION THAT TO
HAVE AN INDIAN IDENTITY, TO BE
AN ABORIGINAL PERSON, IS TO HAVE
AN INFERIOR IDENTITY.
MANY ABORIGINAL PEOPLE HAVE A
DEEP SENSE OF SHAME ABOUT THEIR
ABORIGINAL IDENTITY.
AND THEY'VE PICKED THIS UP FROM
THE GENERAL, YOU KNOW, FROM WHAT
THEY SEE ON TV.
WHAT THEY EXPERIENCE IN THE
CANADIAN PUBLIC.
AND THIS DEEP SENSE OF SHAME IS
CONNECTED TO A DISCONNECT FROM
WHO THEY ARE AS ABORIGINAL PEOPLE.
AND THEN WHEN WE LOOK AT THE
EXPERIENCE OF RESIDENTIAL
SCHOOLS, AND THE DAMAGING OF THE
FAMILY UNIT, AND THE
APPREHENSION OF CHILDREN, YOU
HAVE DISCONNECTED PEOPLE WHO
HAVE GROWN UP WITH HOPELESSNESS,
HELPLESSNESS, AND POWERLESSNESS.
AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON.
I KNOW THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON
FOR JOEY AND PETE IN THOSE
SEGMENTS, IS THIS DEEP SENSE OF
HOPELESSNESS, AND HELPLESSNESS,
INABILITY TO CHANGE THEIR
SITUATION.

Piya says SO HERE ARE THESE KIDS, UM,
BECAUSE THEY ARE KIDS
ESSENTIALLY.

Patti says THEY ARE.

Piya says THEY'RE YOUNG--THEY'RE YOUNG
MEN, AND THEY'RE FEELING
DISLOCATED, DISASSOCIATED,
DISILLUSIONED.

Patti says ABSOLUTELY.

Piya says THERE'S NOT REAL GREAT FUTURE IN
THEIR OWN HEADS, OR PROBABLY FOR
THEM IN A LOT OF PRACTICAL WAYS
AS WELL POTENTIALLY.
AND SOME OF THEM TURN TO GANGS.
HOW DOES THAT TRANSITION HAPPEN?

Patti says SO, IF YOU--IF WE LEAVE CHILDREN
TO GROW UP FEELING HOPELESS
ABOUT THEIR FUTURE, THAT THEY
HAVE NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO,
AND HELPLESS TO MAKE A CHANGE IN
THAT, AND THEY'VE GROWN UP IN
FAMILY ENVIRONMENTS WHERE THEIR
PARENTS HAVE BEEN VERY HOPELESS,
AND THEY FEEL ABSOLUTELY
POWERLESS WHEN IT COMES TO
ANYBODY WITH AUTHORITY, LIKE THE
POLICE, LIKE CHILD WELFARE, LIKE
DOCTORS, LIKE CROWN PROSECUTORS.

Piya says TEACHERS.

Patti says TEACHERS, ALL OF THAT.
WHEN YOU GROW UP HOPELESS AND
HELPLESS IT STANDS TO REASON
THAT A YOUNG PERSON WOULD LOOK
TO A GANG TO HAVE A SENSE OF
POWER, TO GAIN RESPECT.
I MEAN IN A REALLY TRAGIC
VIOLENT KIND OF ENVIRONMENT.
BUT AT LEAST THEY ARE
SELF-DETERMINING THEIR OWN
FUTURE, TO SOME DEGREE, RIGHT?
IT'S NOT GREAT.
SO WHEN WE SEE PETE AT THE
BEGINNING OF THE BOOK HE'S
TRYING TO BE A PROTECTOR AND A
PROVIDER FOR HIS FAMILY.
YES, HE'S GANG-AFFILIATED.
SURE, HE'S RUNNING KIDS OUT ON
THE STREETS FOR DRUGS.
BUT HIS WHOLE GOAL IS TO TAKE
CARE OF JOEY IN THAT SPARSE APARTMENT.
YOU KNOW HE GOES BACK AND
HE'S--HE BRINGS JOEY A VIDEO
GAME AND THEY PLAY VIDEO GAMES
AND SLEEP ON THE FLOOR.
HE'S STILL TRYING TO DO WHAT
HE'S SUPPOSED TO DO, BUT HE'S
GOT NO GOOD INFORMATION, AND NO OPTIONS.
HE DOESN'T SEE ANY CHOICE IN HIS
LIFE AT ALL.

Piya says I WANT TO SEE IF YOU HAVE
ANOTHER STAT HERE BECAUSE--WELL
HELP ME OUT WITH THIS ONE.

Patti says OKAY.

Piya says HOW MANY YOUNG ABORIGINAL MEN
ARE ENDING UP GOING THROUGH OUR
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM?

Patti says WELL, I CAN TELL YOU IN 1999 THE
FEDERAL PRISON POPULATION, 12 percent
OF IT WAS ABORIGINAL.
IN MARCH 31, 2015, 24 percent OF THE
TOTAL FEDERAL PRISON POPULATION
IS ABORIGINAL, A FULL QUARTER,
WHEREAS, ABORIGINAL PEOPLE MAKE
UP 4.5 percent OF OUR CANADIAN POPULATION.
WE ARE EXPERIENCING A CRISIS OF
OVER REPRESENTATION.
AND ON TOP OF THAT, WE,
ABORIGINAL PEOPLE REPRESENT 46 percent
OF ALL SELF-INJURY IN PRISON,
WHICH TALKS TO THESE REALLY
SERIOUS MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES OF
THE PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO
PRISON, THAT ARE NOT BEING
ADDRESSED.

Piya says OKAY, WE'VE GONE FROM 12 percent TO 24 percent
IN JUST OVER, SOME NUMBER OF
YEARS, SHORT TIME SPAN.
WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE?

Patti says WELL WE'RE NOT--SO IF WE KNOW,
AND WE DO KNOW, THAT CRIME AND
CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR AND GANG
AFFILIATION IS RELATED TO
HISTORIC TRAUMA, OBVIOUSLY WE'RE
NOT ADDRESSING HISTORIC TRAUMA
FACTORS IN PRISON.
WE ARE NOT EFFECTIVELY REHABILITATING.
IT'S REALLY INTERESTING THAT THE
BIGGEST PREDICTOR OF
INCARCERATION FOR ABORIGINAL
PEOPLE RIGHT NOW IS PAST
INCARCERATION.
IT'S A CYCLE OF INCARCERATION.

Piya says ISN'T THAT TRUE OF
EVERYONE, IN TERMS OF
INCARCERATION APPLIED TO
DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES?

Patti says NO.

Piya says NO?

Patti says NOT--IT'S MY UNDERSTANDING IT'S NOT.
BUT IT IS ONE OF OUR BIGGEST PREDICTORS.
AND SO WE ARE NOT ADDRESSING,
WE'RE NOT REHABILITATING PEOPLE
WHEN THEY GO TO JAIL.
AND THEY ARE COMING BACK INTO
JAIL IN A CYCLICAL MANNER.

Piya says OKAY, THIS IS A GOOD SEGUE INTO
THE WORK THAT YOU DO WITH
ABORIGINAL MEN BECAUSE--WELL,
IT'S CALLED--IT'S CALLED
THE WARRIOR PROGRAM.

Patti says THAT'S RIGHT.

Piya says OKAY, SO WHAT ARE THE GUIDING
PRINCIPLES OF THE PROGRAM?

The caption changes to "In search of your warrior."

d says SO THERE'S THREE THINGS.
FIRST OF ALL, WE ARE
RECONNECTING MEN TO A POSITIVE
SENSE OF ABORIGINAL IDENTITY.
WE ARE DEALING WITH ALL OF THAT
SHAME, ALL OF THOSE NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES.
WE'RE RECONNECTING THEM TO--TO
THE CULTURE, TO THE CEREMONY, IF THEY WANT.
YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT THAT WE ARE
CONVERTING ANYBODY.
BUT WE OFFER THEM AN OPPORTUNITY
TO SEE WHAT IT MEANS TO SEE A
REALLY BEAUTIFUL, FLEXIBLE
POSITIVE ABORIGINAL IDENTITY.
THEN, THE SECOND THING THAT WE
DO, IS WE WORK ON RECONCILIATION.
AND WE ENCOURAGE THEM NOT ONLY
TO RECONCILE THEIR RELATIONSHIP
WITH THEMSELVES, AND MAYBE WITH
THEIR CREATOR, BUT ALSO WITH
THEIR FAMILY.
WE HELP THEM TO LOOK AT THEIR
FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS AND WHAT HAPPENED.
WE BUILD THIS WHOLE BACKSTORY
OF COLONIZATION, RESIDENTIAL
SCHOOLS, THEIR OWN FAMILY TRAUMA.
AND WE TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE
OF FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS.
AND THEN WE HELP THEM.
AND THIS IS A VERY EXPERIENTIAL
KIND OF KINAESTHETIC, UM, SLOW,
UNFOLDING, PEELING BACK THE
LAYERS OF THE ONION, KIND OF
EXPOSING WHAT'S GOING ON.
IT'S DONE WITHIN SAFETY, WITH
KINDNESS, AND RESPECT.

Piya says WHAT IS IT, COUNSELLING?

Patti says NO, IT'S A GROUP, IT'S GROUP WORK.
IT'S GROUP WORK IT IS, UM, IT'S
NOT THERAPY.
IT'S JUST--IT'S A PROCESS
WHEREOF LEARNING, AND EXPLORING,
AND EXPERIENCING.
AND IT'S ALL GROUNDED IN CEREMONY.
AND THEN THE THIRD THING THAT WE
DO IS HELP THEM TO
SELF-DETERMINE GOOD DECISIONS.
SO ANY HEALING PROGRAM HAS TO BE
A SELF-DETERMINED PROCESS.
NOBODY CAN HEAL ME.
I HAVE TO HEAL MYSELF.
AND SO OUR FACILITATORS WALK
BESIDE THESE MEN, HELP THEM TO
SEE THAT THEY HAVE CHOICES IN
THEIR LIFE.
BUT THE HEALING JOURNEY IS ALL
THEIR OWN.
THEY HAVE TO OWN IT AND THEY
HAVE TO DO IT.

Piya says OKAY, JUST TAKE US THROUGH THE PROCESS.

Patti says OKAY.

Piya says SO I'M A YOUNG ABORIGINAL MAN.
I COMMIT AN OFFENCE, I'M CONVICTED.
I'M SENTENCED TO JAIL OR PRISON TIME.
WHERE DOES YOUR PROGRAM
COME IN AT THIS POINT?

Patti says OKAY, SO WE RUN AN INSTITUTION.
WE RUN A HEALING CENTRE CALLED
THE STAN DANIELS HEALING CENTRE.
IT'S IN THE MIDDLE OF EDMONTON,
INNER CITY.
AND, UH, MEN WHO ARE
INCARCERATED, THEY GO THROUGH
THE FEDERAL PRISON SYSTEM AND
THEY COME TO OUR PLACE, KIND OF
AT THE END OF THEIR SENTENCE, RIGHT?
WE HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WHERE WE'RE
GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO RUN OUR
OWN JAIL, SET OUR OWN POLICIES,
AS LONG AS WE FOLLOW THE LAWS OF CANADA.
IT'S CALLED A SECTION 81 FACILITY.
AND SO, UM, THEY WOULD COME TO
STAN DANIELS HEALING CENTRE AND
THEY WOULD START THE WARRIOR
PROGRAM.
IT'S A SIX-WEEK INTENSIVE PROGRAM.
IT'S--IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO
EXPLAIN EXCEPT THAT WE DO HAVE SESSIONS.
SO WE LOOK AT ABANDONMENT, WE
LOOK A NEGLECT.
WE LOOK AT FAMILY TREES.
WE TALK ABOUT SOME THINGS THAT
PEOPLE WOULD EXPECT IN A VIOLENT
OFFENDER HEALING PROGRAM.
BUT IT IS GUIDED BY THE ELDERS,
WHICH IS DIFFERENT.
AND IT IS COMPLETELY GROUNDED IN CEREMONY.
SO A LOT OF THE TRADITIONAL
TEACHINGS ARE TAUGHT BY ELDERS
IN CEREMONIES.
AND GIVING PEOPLE AN OPPORTUNITY
TO EXPERIENCE THESE TEACHINGS,
TO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF
THEIR RELATIONSHIPS, AND HOW
THEIR RELATIONSHIPS SHOULD LOOK,
AND WHAT THE VALUES THAT GUIDE
THOSE RELATIONSHIPS ARE, THAT'S
ALL DONE IN CEREMONY.
AND SO, UM, I'M NOT TRYING TO
SAY THAT THEY ARE FORCED TO DO
THIS, BECAUSE WE DO HAVE PEOPLE
WHO ARE CHRISTIANS, PEOPLE WHO
ARE ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS,
WHATEVER, YOU KNOW.
AND OTHER PEOPLE WHO WANT TO
EXPLORE TRADITIONAL
SPIRITUALITY.
WHAT WE DO IS OFFER THEM AN
OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE
SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT BEING
AN ABORIGINAL PERSON, TO
EXPERIENCE THIS CEREMONY AND TO
DEBUNK ALL THE MYTHS AND
NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES ABOUT
CEREMONIES.
AND JUST TO PRESENT IT TO THEM
AS AN OPPORTUNITY.
DEBUNK SOME OF THOSE.

Patti says OF THE MYTHS?

Patti says WELL, YOU KNOW IT'S INTERESTING.
IN MANY PROJECTS, RESEARCH THAT
I'VE DONE, I'VE WORKED WITH
PEOPLE WHO BEFORE THEY STARTED A
HEALING JOURNEY THEY HEARD
NOTHING BUT NEGATIVITY ABOUT
ABORIGINAL CEREMONIES.
THAT THEY WERE WITCHCRAFT OR
VOODOO OR HEATHEN OR PAGAN OR
WHATEVER YOU WANT TO--WHATEVER
THOSE NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES ARE.
AND ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL
THINGS THAT OUR ELDERS DO, THAT
WORK WITH US, IS THEY KIND OF
UNPACK THIS SPIRITUAL DIVIDE.
AND WE DO A LOT OF
RECONCILIATION, YOU KNOW.
MANY OF THE ELDERS COME FROM THE
PERSPECTIVE THAT WE ALL PRAY TO
THE SAME GOD.
SO WHETHER YOU GO TO CHURCH TO
PRAY TO GOD OR YOU GO TO A
SWEAT, OR YOU GO TO A TEMPLE, OR
WHATEVER, WE'RE JUST PRAYING TO
THE SAME GOD, AND IT'S ALL GOOD.
AND IF YOU WANT TO PRAY WITH US
HERE YOU CAN.
IF YOU'D PREFER TO GO TO THE
CHURCH DOWN THE STREET
YOU'RE--YOU'RE FREE TO DO THAT TOO.

Piya says NO WOMEN, THIS IS A PROGRAM
EXCLUSIVELY FOR YOUNG MEN?

Patti says OKAY, SO AT THE STAN DANIELS
HEALING CENTRE WE DO THE IN
SEARCH OF YOUR WARRIOR PROGRAM FOR MEN.
WE OPENED THE VERY FIRST SECTION
81 FACILITY FOR WOMEN RECENTLY,
THREE YEARS AGO.
AND WE HAVE A PROGRAM CALLED THE
SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR FOR WOMEN.
SO IT WAS ADAPTED FOR WOMEN,
JUST AS SUCCESSFUL.

Piya says WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE IN
TERMS OF APPROACH?

Patti says WELL IT'S WOMEN-CENTRED.
WE TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE VERY
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES THAT
ABORIGINAL WOMEN FACE, BEING
WOMEN WHO ARE REALLY AT THE
BOTTOM OF THE SOCIAL TOTEM POLE
AS WE WOULD SAY.
AND WE HONOUR THOSE EXPERIENCES
OF BEING WOMEN AND THE LOSSES
THAT SOME WOMEN EXPERIENCE
AROUND PERHAPS ABORTIONS OR, UM,
YOU KNOW HAVING THEIR CHILDREN APPREHENDED.
AND IT'S VERY WOMEN FOCUSED,
WOMEN-CENTRED.

Piya says OKAY, HERE'S THE BIG QUESTION
THAT EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW.
SOUNDS NICE, PATTI.
WHAT'S THE EFFECT?
WHAT'S THE EFFECT ON THE
RECIDIVISM RATE?

Patti says YEAH.
WELL, I CAN TELL YOU THAT THE
CORRECTIONAL SERVICES OF CANADA
DID A REVIEW OF THE IN SEARCH OF
YOUR WARRIOR PROGRAM SOME YEARS
AGO AND FOUND THAT IT WAS WILDLY
MORE EFFECTIVE THAN ANY PROGRAM
OFFERED FOR--IN THE MAINSTREAM
CORRECTIONAL SERVICES CANADA PROGRAMS.
I CAN TELL YOU THAT AT THE STAN
DANIELS HEALING CENTRE WE HAVE
ENJOYED SOME OF THE LOWEST
RECIDIVISM AND RE-INCARCERATION
RATES ACROSS CANADA OF ANY
INSTITUTION.
UM, AND I KNOW ANECDOTALLY THAT
WHAT WE DO WORKS.
I KNOW THAT MEN FEEL SUPPORTED,
ARE IN A SAFE PLACE, DO THEIR WORK.
WE ALSO DO JOBS SKILLS TRAINING.
WE DO ALL OF THAT STUFF.
OUR GOAL IS TO RELEASE MEN WITH
A MONTH'S RENT, A DAMAGE DEPOSIT
IN THE BANK, AND SOME JOB
SKILLS, AND SOME--A HEALING
JOURNEY TO RELY ON WHEN THEY
LEAVE OUR JAIL.

Piya says WE KNOW THAT WHEN PEOPLE LEAVE
GANGS--

Patti says MM HMM.

Piya says DIFFERENT KINDS OF GANGS.
AND TRY TO GO ON A BETTER PATH
IN LIFE, LET'S JUST USE THE
EXAMPLE THAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE.
THEY'RE IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
FOR A NUMBER OF WEEKS.

Patti says YUP.

Piya says AND THEN THEY'RE SET FORTH.
AND WHAT OFTEN HAPPENS IS YOU
RETREAT BASICALLY BACK TO A GANG.
THERE'S PRESSURE TO COME BACK.
IS THERE BLOW-BACK FROM THE
GANGS THAT YOU'VE SEEN?

Patti says OKAY, SO YES, THERE'S PRESSURE
FROM THE GANGS TO COME BACK, AND
YOU CAN'T DISMISS THAT.
I WOULD AGREE.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, GETTING A
JOB, FEEDING YOURSELF, UM,
DEALING WITH THE RACISM THAT
ABORIGINAL PEOPLE FACE EVERY
SINGLE DAY IN MAINSTREAM
CANADIAN SOCIETY, DEALING WITH
ALL OF THAT STUFF IN MY MIND IS
MORE DIFFICULT THAN DEALING WITH
THE GANG ISSUE.
TO ME IT'S A FALL BACK BECAUSE
HAVING A JOB, KEEPING A JOB, ALL
OF THESE THINGS ARE DIFFICULT
WHEN YOU ARE VISIBLY ABORIGINAL,
HAVE A CRIMINAL HISTORY, HAVE
JUST BEEN RELEASED FROM JAIL.
THIS IS WHY I WAS SAYING THAT
THE EMPLOYMENT STUFF IS JUST AS
IMPORTANT AS THE HEALING STUFF.
WE NEED TO HELP CREATE THIS
ENVIRONMENT AND THIS SKILL SET
TO HELP THESE MEN BE ABLE TO
KEEP A CRIME FREE LIFESTYLE.

Piya says DO YOU HAVE A STORY THAT STANDS
OUT FOR YOU, OF SOMEBODY WHO'S
GONE THROUGH THIS PROGRAM AND
HAS CHANGED THEIR WAYS?

Patti says TOTALLY.
I HAVE A STORY THAT MAYBE IS A
LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT BUT IT
REALLY SPEAKS TO THE STAN
DANIELS HEALING CENTRE.
THERE'S AN INDIVIDUAL WHO CAME
TO US AFTER HE WAS INCARCERATED
FOR 46 YEARS.

Piya says 46 YEARS?

Patti says 46 YEARS.
SO HE WAS--HE WAS CONVICTED OF A
MURDER THAT IS STILL UP IN THE
AIR AS TO WHETHER HE REALLY DID
IT, BUT THEN COMMITTED ANOTHER
MURDER INSIDE THAT HE ABSOLUTELY DID.
SO HE'S A LIFER, HE'S NEVER EVER
GOING TO GET OUT, RIGHT?
SO, UM, HE CAME TO US AFTER
BEING INCARCERATED FOR SUCH A
LONG TIME AND HE WENT THROUGH
THE WARRIOR PROGRAM.
AND AFTERWARDS WE DID A VIDEO
WITH HIM AND ALL OF THIS STUFF.
AND HE SAID THAT HE HAD NEVER
EVER BEEN TREATED IN A FRIENDLY
MANNER, WITH KINDNESS, UNTIL HE
CAME TO STAN DANIELS.
AND HE--IT CAUGHT HIM OFF GUARD.
AND HE FELT AT FIRST THAT HE WAS
BEING SET UP IN SOME WAY.
IT TOOK HIM A LONG TIME.
AND THROUGH THIS PROGRAM, AND HE
TALKED ABOUT THE POWER OF THE
MASK IN THE PROGRAM, AND HOW HE
REALLY LEARNED A LOT ABOUT HIMSELF.
AND SO HE STILL STAYED WITH US.
AND EVERY TIME HE--EVERY TIME HE
GETS OUT, THE PAROLE BOARD WOULD
GIVE HIM PAROLE, HE WANTED TO
COME BACK BECAUSE HE SAYS THAT
THE STAN DANIELS HEALING CENTRE
IS HIS FAMILY.
AND RECENTLY HE DEVELOPED CANCER.
HE'S IN HIS 70S, AND HE ASKED
THE CEO IF HE COULD STAY UNTIL
HE DIED BECAUSE THIS IS WHERE
HIS FAMILY IS.
AND SO I'M NOT REALLY SURE WHAT
THE AVERAGE CANADIAN WOULD THINK
OF THAT STORY, BUT I DO KNOW
THAT THIS MAN FOUND KINDNESS.
THIS MAN FOUND SOME PEACE IN HIS LIFE.
AND, YES, HE HAS TO ABIDE BY THE
LAWS OF CANADA AND WE DO VERY
GOOD COMMUNITY SUPERVISION.
BUT HE FEELS LIKE HE HAS A
FAMILY NOW.

Piya says THIS IS--THIS IS A GOOD POINT
THAT YOU RAISE.
AND SOME PEOPLE WOULD SUGGEST
PROGRAMS LIKE YOURS ARE KIND OF
A GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD.

Patti says ABSOLUTELY.

Piya says PEOPLE WHO ARE LIKE TOUGH LAW
AND ORDER, YOU KNOW, YOU DID THE
CRIME YOU DO THE TIME, THAT'S IT.

Patti says OKAY, SO YES, THEY ALL DO THE TIME.
THE PUNISHMENT IN OUR JUSTICE
SYSTEM IS TO TAKE AWAY A
PERSON'S FREEDOM.
AND, ABSOLUTELY, EVERY PERSON
WHO GOES TO JAIL HAS NO FREEDOM
WHATSOEVER.
WHILE THEY'RE THERE THOUGH, IF
WE WANT TO PREVENT THE
RE-INCARCERATION THEN WE HAVE TO
DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL.
AND I CAN TELL YOU THAT THE COST
OF INCARCERATION IS
ASTRONOMICALLY HIGH.
IT'S OVER 118,000 dollars PER YEAR TO
KEEP A MAN INCARCERATED.
AND SO WHY WOULDN'T WE DO THIS?
IF NOTHING BUT AN ECONOMIC
BENEFIT TO CANADA, WHY WOULD WE
NOT INVEST IN HEALING PROGRAMS
SO THAT WE DO AWAY WITH
RE-INCARCERATION AND THESE MEN
GO OUT AND GET A JOB AND PAY TAXES.
IT'S A WIN-WIN FOR ALL CANADIANS.
IT'S NOT A GET OUT--AND THIS IS
HARD WORK.
AND THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS
ABOUT THE GRAPHIC NOVEL THAT WE
CAN SHOW.
PETE--THIS IS THE HARDEST THING
HE HAS EVER DONE IN HIS LIFE, IS
TO UNPACK HIS OWN HISTORY, AND
FIGURE OUT WHAT THE HECK
HAPPENED, AND MAKE SOME GOOD
CHOICES FOR HIMSELF.

Piya says WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO--TO
GET OUT OF READING
THE OUTSIDE CIRCLE?
'CAUSE IT--'CAUSE IT'S VERY
DENSE, THERE'S A LOT PACKED IN THERE.

Patti says TOTALLY.
WELL, NUMBER ONE, I WANT PEOPLE
TO UNDERSTAND THAT MEN IN JAIL
ARE NOT BAD PEOPLE.
YOU KNOW, THEY'VE DONE SOME
PRETTY HORRIFIC THINGS.
THEIR--THEIR ACTIONS HAVE BEEN BAD.
BUT WE ALL START OUT AS THESE
BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN.
WE'RE ALL GIFTS FROM THE CREATOR.
AND SOMEHOW THEIR LIFE
EXPERIENCE HAS SHAPED THEM TO BE
WHAT THEY ARE, VIOLENT MEN.
VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR IS LEARNED
BEHAVIOUR.
SO IF WE CAN LEARN IT WE CAN
UNLEARN IT.
AND THE POSSIBILITY FOR
TRANSFORMATION EXISTS WITH
EVERYBODY, THERE'S NO THROWAWAY PEOPLE.

The caption changes to "Theagenda.tvo.org"

Piya says THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS BOOK.
IT'S, UM--WE WERE TALKING JUST
BEFORE WE STARTED, BUT YOU COULD
HAVE TOLD THIS STORY IN MANY WAYS.

Patti says YEAH.

Piya says AND MAYBE HAD LESS IMPACT.
THIS IS A VERY POWERFUL BOOK.
THANK YOU FOR WRITING IT.

Patti smiles and says THANK YOU.

Watch: Patti LaBoucane-Benson: The Outside Circle