As with a circle, never ending, healing is conceptualized as an active process, a journey or movement along a path. The goal of moving towards healing involves the removal of pain and establishing and maintaining a balance in one’s life.
The Indigenous worldview indicates a need to understand the interconnections between individuals, communities and their choices “An individual’s inner spirit is [understood to be] intertwined with their family, community, and the land and cannot be understood apart from them” (Dell et al., 2008:86). Individuals cannot be separated from their communities.
The circle process thus brings together all those who share in the collective responsibility of the family. The collective shares, listens and learns from one another’s perspective and will collectively plan, decide and commit to work with all members of the family.
The historical and contemporary realities of Indigenous communities has resulted in communities viewing child welfare as an agent of colonialism rather than a support to the safety and well-being of Indigenous children and youth.
Relationships that challenge power imbalances, institutional discrimination and colonizing practices demonstrate cultural safety. Safe services are defined by the recipient of the services and require the practitioner to understand that “[c]hildren, youth and families cannot be viewed in isolation from their extended family, their communities and the mental, physical, environmental, social and spiritual realms of their lives” (APPF, p.14). These connections /relationships are situated in the past, present and future.
Practitioners must attend to and ensure the safety of parents and family members participating in meetings and family circles/talking circles, and must ensure that these meetings/circles are experienced as safe, supportive and non-threatening.