Turning Stones is a new violence prevention program for families. (submitted)

Turning Stones is a new violence prevention program for families. (submitted)

Holistic violence prevention program underway in Cowichan

Interested participants can self-refer or can be referred from other agencies.

The first session of Turning Stones, an innovative and culturally safe and holistic violence prevention group for families in Cowichan Tribes territory, took place this Tuesday and attendance was at maximum capacity.

Facilitator Ron Schwartz said it’s going to be a full group for this set of sessions, which began March 21.

The program, funded by the Solicitor General of B.C., has been in development for a couple of years.

“It’s basically a blend of best practices out there in the field of domestic violence and an integration with First Nations teachings and cultural practices,” Schwartz explained.

Interested participants can self-refer or can be referred from other agencies.

Individuals, couples or the entire family can attend.

“What happens is that the participants all come together for 16 sessions,” Schwartz said. “At each session everybody comes together and they have a prayer and cultural teachings over a meal. Then following that the group breaks into several small groups, so there’ll be a men’s group off on its own, a women’s group off on its own and a children’s group and a youth group.”

The focus of each group, he said, is on safety in the family, from planning to techniques.

Many different topics are presented from a variety of different techniques and modalities throughout the program.

Everything from cognitive behavioural therapy, to listening to stories, to cultural teachings around residential school and causation, and more, are utilized.

“It’s very, very culturally competent and safe,” Schwartz said. “With each group there are two facilitators and a spiritual elder. I think it’s very unique within the discourse of family violence and it’s a culturally safe program. We use various techniques to enhance a person’s healing journey.”

More information can be found by contacting the Kwun’atsustul Counselling Program at the Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre at 778-422-3122.