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Kamloops trauma councillor shares insights into city's social disorder

Counsellor Shelly Dean (left) and Mastermind Studios CEO Peter Cameron-Inglis work on a podcast in Kamloops. Shelly Dean, a counsellor at the Centre for Response Based Practice in Kamloops

A production company in Kamloops is continuing a collaborative approach to finding solutions for communities impacted by social disorder through a video podcast called Crisis Storm.

Mastermind Studios CEO Peter Cameron-Inglis has been interviewing front line workers, industry experts and those impacted by homelessness, substance use and crime to better understand the challenges and identify possible solutions.

“We want everybody’s perspective at the table, it’s not a one-sided bias thing,” he said in a previous interview with iNFOnews.ca. “Everybody has their own truth.”

This week, he interviewed Shelly Dean, a counsellor at the Centre for Response Based Practice in Kamloops who works with victims of violence and trauma, and those who have used violence to harm others.

“We’re working with families where violence is an issue for either victims or perpetrators of violence, and where it’s a serious child protection issue,” Dean said. “And so we’re doing risk assessments and intervention services for all members of the family.”

Dean touched on many topics including the increase in violence she's seeing, some of the factors that lead up to the current crisis and some ideas on how to tackle the challenges as a collaborative going forward.

“From what we see in terms of volume and severity it appears violence is increasing,” she said. “It’s a very hard thing to measure, but it sure appears that way.”

Dean said a whole bunch of things happening over a long period of time have resulted in the current homelessness and substance use challenges, one of which is a lack of available free or low-cost resources for families and children.

“We have a real crisis in primary care, what happens for people when they can’t meet their medical health needs, when they’re experiencing anxiety and depression? The services haven’t been available for a long time, it’s appropriate to call this a crisis storm.

“It’s not surprising we’ve led up to this, we haven’t put the money where it’s needed to go to prevent all these kinds of things happening.”

Dean said there is a general lack of education around the topic of violence and there are more ways to help children and families at earlier stages.

“When children are in primary school and things are scary at home, they’re not behaving quite the same and teachers who are trained in recognizing issues of violence in children can get the supports in place at that level,” she said.

“There are all kinds of things we can do as a community that are more helpful, less intrusive and way earlier. If we were making good decisions now at a policy level in education and across all sectors we wouldn’t be having the same kinds of issues that we have today.”

READ MORE: More homeless people leave Kamloops than arrive: provincial data

She said it’s important to create more work spaces, social spaces and conversations that are safe, where people can get support and have more professionals in all sectors with training on how to recognize victims of violence.

In the podcast, Dean delves into the perks and perils of social media and draws connections to the violence, and where more accountability and responsibility could be helpful in creating safer spaces.

“Polarization is happening, people are making a decision to attack one another,” she said. “I think there is a collective fear that leads to justifying bad behaviour. When you can attack people on social media it lacks accountability. We see that in predators going after our children in their sacred places of play in their gaming and Facebook, it’s contributing to the problems.”

READ MORE: 'Invisible to most': Kelowna volunteers raise concerns about worsening homeless crisis

Dean believes the community has the ability to make positive changes using open communication, active listening and compassion.

“I believe Kamloops can be a safe place and lack of safety can change. Talking about it as a collective is how it can happen with an overt, clear goal that can be described in a way of action.”

READ MORE: 'Just normal people like everybody else': The reality of homelessness in Kelowna's tent city

Crisis Storm is part of a much bigger, long-term documentary project called Finding a Way Forward – A City in Crisis that provides resources, Indigenous wisdom and academic insight into social disorder.

Sponsors are needed to keep the series moving forward, but while waiting for funding, the podcasts are a way to keep the conversations going, share research and start making a difference.

The podcast with Peter Cameron-Inglis and Shelly Dean will be released here before the end of the month.

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