CFUW-Stratford features Expressive Arts Therapy at the October 27th Zoom General Meeting.

Lorrie Gallant is Haudenosaunee born and raised on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in Ontario.  She is a writer, illustrator, storyteller, singer, visual artist, educator, consultant, and Expressive Arts Practitioner.  Lorrie is the recipient of 2015 Ontario Arts Foundation Artist Educator Award and worked 11 years as Education Program Coordinator at Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford (former Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School).

Lorrie’s methodology comes from her culture. She takes an active approach to revealing the rich and beautiful civilization of First Nations people; their history, trauma and how it has brought us to our current issues, through art-based teaching, presentations, workshops and has written and illustrated a series of children’s books.

Lorrie is a board member for the Canadian Expressive Arts Therapy Association, sits on the Indigenous Education Advisory Circles for The Royal Ontario Museum, Peel District School Board, and Toronto Museums and Heritage Services.  Lorrie shares her skills with: Community Builders and Youth Leadership on social justice issues and mediation skills; facilitates an on-line course “Stolen Lives, The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools”, for Facing History and Ourselves;  Currently is an Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Family Medicine McMaster University, ‘Indigenous Teaching Through The Arts’.  Lorrie has taught “Professionalism in Expressive Arts” for Fleming College and is currently part-time Professor for Mohawk College Expressive Arts program.

Lorrie is married to a restaurateur, has two beautiful daughters, a wonderful son-in-law and is a first-time grandmother to a beautiful little spirit named Cash.

Lorrie gave a very informative talk, explaining that  Expressive Arts Therapy uses imagery, storytelling, dance, music, visual arts, etc.  to foster  human growth, development and healing. She noted that our indigenous ancestors called upon the arts for spiritual guidance in navigating the perplexities of life.

According to Lorrie, we are all born creative.  We are all artists, and we can create. Creativity is a form of self-care and helps us to better understand ourselves on a daily basis. It’s not about what we create; rather, it’s about our response to the creative experience where healing can occur. Participation in arts leads to self-discovery and change.

Lorrie asked group members to draw three different symbols representing who we are to our community, who we are to our family/home, and who we know ourselves to truly be. She then asked us to carefully examine each symbol in order to better understand ourselves and our behaviour. Lorrie explained that the symbols represent our identities, our connectedness to our surroundings and our boundaries.

Group members then wrote responses to the following questions:

What are the things that ground you and/or make you feel grounded?

Who are the people who ground you?

What do you do that makes you feel peaceful?

Where do you go to feel comfort and strength?

From there, we picked 5 key elements in each answer to develop a self-care plan that took the following form: Today I will spend time with_____, doing _________ in my place where I find strength ___________.

Lorrie suggested that we practice the plan for 5 days and then redraw our symbols and compare them with the originals to see how they’ve changed.

Lorrie explained that self-care “centres us”; makes us realize how important we are. If we are not well centred, we cannot take care of others.

Pat Bayliss thanked Lorrie on behalf of the members and noted the importance of self-care and healing.

Breakout Chat Rooms: Nora Walden broke the group into smaller ones to attend 6 chat rooms, where the topic of discussion was: “Hobbies or artistic pursuits that we undertake to reduce stress”.

A volunteer from each chat room shared her group’s list, which included: gardening, bird watching,  upholstery, singing, dancing, genealogy, creating comic books, yoga, playing solitaire, listening to podcasts, cooking, hiking, swimming, being around water, nature, on-line gallery and museum tours, on-line lectures, knitting, painting,  horses, crocheting, drawing, festival subscription, domestic chores, sewing, pets, reading, puzzles, listening to music.