Community Education for Violence Prevention and Culture Change

Most people may consider Quest to be an isolated community on top of a hill, with its own culture. However, in reality all students that come to Quest bring their own personal experiences, which have been shaped before joining Quest. In most cases, students bring incredible experiences that are informative and eye opening for everyone else. On the other hand, this means that we are part of a global community, where people may experience racism and sexism, among other issues.

Elise Scribner, a Quest graduate, as part of her Question studied oppression and how it can be overcome. She points out on her Keystone  (final project/presentation at Quest), that “oppressive attitudes have become salient in the Quest community over the last few years,” she moves on exploring how this reveals that even in a progressive university like Quest “embedded oppressions remains in interpersonal interactions.”

As a response to the ongoing instances of oppression on the Quest community Elise Scriber and Jessamyn Smyth, together with other Quest students created a new class at Quest. Jessamyn Smyth has worked on public health for 25 years, she has academic training in Classics, comparative religion, and Holocaust studies. The objective of the class is to create a violence prevention and culture change education program. Students who take this class are going to be part of the education program by facilitating monthly workshops on campus or in the Squamish community. As a class we will create a toolkit for the program that will be used and improved by us at Quest and other communities.

The class has already started and a group of 22 incredible students are on this journey. Reading books such as Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire and Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks led us to question our beliefs and for some it was also a liberating experience.

We had visitors coming in everyday for about two weeks. Visitors were Quest tutors: John Reid-Hresko, Bicanca Brigidi, Douge Monroue, and Ahalya Satkunaratnan. We also had a visitor from the Helping Hands in Squamish, Maureen Mackell the Executive Director, and a visitor from Vancouver Perry Omeasoo a First Nations Mental Health Liaison Worker. Finally, we had Tara Dudley, Darren Newton, and our President David Helfand. Through these visits we were able to experience real people doing real work and have powerful discussions; inspiring us to consider this position from an intersectional lense, be accepting of failure, and to be authentic.

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