How to make a COVID-19 schedule

As an art therapist and a parent, this suggestions come from both research and experience. Please note that there is no one-size fits all approach but feel free to use any suggestions that makes sense for your family.

I began with a basic structure, inviting my family to contribute to setting expectations and daily themes. This way, they become part of the process and their own learning. This can give children a sense of empowerment and self-esteem in knowing that they are heard. Self-esteem is critical to learning. If a child feels good about themselves, they will be more open to new information and challenge.

This is an example of our schedule. Although it seems rigid, it is not. There are times where playing outside takes an extra hour or times when the learning activity goes over by 30 minutes. There are times when math feels too much and we do a limited amount of time. I encourage play and flexibility and to follow the flow of the children. The age range is 12 and 7, so the schedule shifts based on their developmental needs as well.

Structure can help them to feel normalcy, stability and self-organization during a time in the world where everything feels unstable. It gives them a container to feel what they need to feel and to work through it safely with an adult.

IMG_3893Setting up the learning environment is also important to create structure.We chose a place in the house to dedicate to the “learning spot”. They gathered the materials they thought they would need and know where to go when it’s time for research or math games.

Although learning objectives can be important, remember to have time for unstructured play. Children learn through experience and we as parents can create teachable moments as we explore together. Connect, be with, and listen.

They too are grieving the losses that come with isolation. They have lost their friends; their school structure; their routine; their freedom; their sense of security in the world. Loss can often evoke complex feelings, which can come alive at different points in the day. Be gentle with them. Know that behavior challenges will be normal or that narratives of isolation or disease may come up in their play. Children process and express information differently, so when we are cued into to being a part of their play we may catch those moments to process with them.

Be there when they are challenged, encourage effort and model problem-solving. We do not have to be experts but we can create spaces of learning.

Foraging our Paths Community Art Work

From February 22nd to 24th, Canadian Roots Exchange and its partners invited me to facilitate a 3-day emergent sculpture as part of the Foraging Our Paths youth conference. Participants were Indigenous and non-indigenous who attended came from coast to coast. They were invited to bring objects from their homeland together create a group sculpture as part of the dialogue around environmental violence and land relations.

Gathering at 4th space to explore found objects

Hosted by Concordia University’s 4th space, local resources were donated for the project including garbage, recycling and other found objects. Participants were invited to explore the objects and use them to tell a story about their relations to the land. Some came in with ideas and others used the materials to speak for them. All objects were secured using different glue-based fixtures. 

Youth from across Canada, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, making art and community to discuss the same issues.

Over our time together, conversations emerged around natural resources, climate change, capitalism and the role of each of us in building bridges to a healthier world. Many brought their experiences with infrastructures and some brought their innocence. Together we were able to bridge community through land.

These conversations came a critical time, when communities across the nation were coming together to stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people in their stance against the Canadian pipeline proposed to run through their community. In a long line of history of land removal in this way, barricades and teachings went viral around indigenous history and the importance of speaking for the land.

#cre #survivance2020

APTN Skindigenous Mini-Documentary Series

As part of APTN’s season 2 series called Skindigenous, I was invited to participate in a mini documentary about art therapy in First Nations communities.

In our conversation, we explored the role of multigenerational trauma and the impact of cultural restoration in community health. There was focus on identity exploration and the power art-making lends to its creator to deconstruct and reconstruction what it means to be Indigenous.

Youth Reconciliation Mural

Between November 30th and December 1st, I facilitated a 12 hour mural weekend workshop to help a group of youth envision and create an image to reflect their conversation about decolonization.

Beginning with an open studio art-hive approach, the group was invited to visually and symbolically explore their experience of privilege, decolonization and reconciliation. As a collective, we co-created a unified image that reflected each voice within the process. Through this project, it was evident how the creative process can support individuals to process challenging social, political and person content as well as build a sense of community.

Thank you CRE Youth Reconciliation Initiative, Press Start, Concordia’s office of community engagement and the Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK for inviting me to build a creative community with these young change-makers. This mural can be seen at Batiment 7.

Decolonizing Consent

On September 24th 2019, I was invited to facilitate an arts-based workshop on decolonizing consent; reclaiming land and body for McGill University’s consent compaign. With support from the First People’s house and McGill’s response, education and support for sexual assault initive, this evening was made possible. Through an immersive experience,  participants were invited to create art and dialogue about environmental justice, multigenerational trauma and indigenous ways of knowing.

We, as a community, may not have change the system, extraction industries and commercialism, but we have changed the ways we have come to understand our connections between the land and body.

The Art of Art Therapists

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Between now and the end of September, an exhibition is being held at the La Ruche D’Art Art Hive. The Art Hive is a community art studio where individuals and groups are invited to freely create with the materials available, free of cost. This studio increases accessibility to community building, creativity and mental health support through the visual arts.

The current exhibition features both art therapists and art facilitators as they explore their own identity as professionals in the field. The artworks I have included in this exhibition are for sale. If interested, please contact me via my contact page to set up an e-transfer or visit the exhibition.

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Cellblock Mural

In July, the elders and I organized a mural project for ten Indigenous male inmates as part of their group work towards holistic and culturally safe healing at a federal prison. Together, from drawing the concept to its final realization, we spent two weeks co-creating a wall mural that extended throughout their cell block.

It was a moment of positive social exchange and teamwork as well as a moment of self-reflection and building cultural identity. It was access to cultural safety, identity and self-expression; it was trauma work.

There was both laughter and seriousness as we spent time in candid conversation, casually painting. There were moments of focus, contemplation and the delight of mixing colours. There was pride and courage to try something new as well as unconditional support when self doubt spoke too loud. There was joy and there was gratitude. Overtime, the wall began to transform into a change of seasons that blended each of their traditional territories, mirroring their own growth as people.

On the surface, what we created during those two weeks was a large colouring painting but what we really did was make social change