(Originally published October 9, 2012, on the RED Blog)
As an instructor at Red River College’s Winkler Campus, she advocates for balanced health in heart, spirit, mind and body.
And as a counselor in the community of Roseau River First Nation, Violet Caibaiosai prescribes an increased awareness of culture and history as the treatment for deficiencies in both mental and physical health.
“One of the most important things would be recognizing what our history is, and then taking an honest look at that history,” says Caibaiosai, who’s taught Applied Counselling courses at Winkler Campus since 2009.
“It’s not always a pretty one, but it’s a difficult one, and it’s important that it be looked at. There’s always an understanding that comes from knowledge and that’s what my goal is, whether it’s in larger society or our own communities. Because people have become so fearful — not only of society, but of themselves.”
A former Ontario native who grew up on the north shore of Lake Huron, Caibaiosai was raised by her parents and grandparents — the latter having imparted the importance of spiritual strength by teaching her about the holistic, healing qualities of traditional medicine.
She incorporates a similar respect for tradition among her students at RRC, noting many who go on to be counsellors may need to draw on that cultural knowledge while working with — and alongside — First Nation residents throughout Manitoba and Canada.
“It’s important for others to understand that history that we have together as a nation,” says Caibaiosai. “There’s a bridge that has to be built, and part of what I do in the classroom is to build those bridges of understanding.”