To our wonderful Clearmind Community,
Last summer, we put out a statement indicating we stand for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Our hearts continue to hurt as a result of seeing racism starkly in action in the death of George Floyd last summer, evidence of Indigenous residential school genocide this summer – which ignited acknowledgement of so many similar crimes. Hearing from many who have similar racist experiences has challenged our view of the ‘friendly universe.’ We know that racism is one face of oppression that occurs in various forms, including gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, religion, and more. Since we put out our statement, we have engaged in courageous conversations with our current Practitioner’s Training student body and some program graduates, revealing some of our failures in this realm.
This reflection of our failures has been a painful and shameful process. For Duane, this has triggered some deep personal reflection about his own Métis heritage and internal racism. He spoke about this a little in his recent talk on Family Trauma: Healing in the Hard Places. Duane turned 70 last year and has stepped back from some aspects of leadership. I have stepped forward where he has stepped back. I am acutely aware of being a white woman in a position of power and feel very cautious about what I put out here. I want to make it better, not worse. My emotional experience of the last few years has been like one of those dreams where you are walking around naked while everyone else is fully clothed. I am awash in shame, aware of my exposure, yet at the same time unable to see my nakedness fully. I instinctively want to cover up. The most courageous thing I can do is stay naked and allow others to reflect what I cannot see. I thank all of you who have taken the time to do that with me.
We do not want to contribute to a destructive, dehumanizing ethos. And yet, based on feedback we have received, we have. We hear the hurt, anger and outrage in the voices of some of our students, community and team members. It is obvious that we have not met this need adequately.
This statement acknowledges that it will be a long process to actualize our ambition to be an inclusive, anti-racist organization. The scale of this painful, complex problem is much bigger than we can possibly hope to rectify. We commit to doing our part.
What do we stand for?
We stand for transparency, accountability, learning and humility. We stand for the inherent worth of every human being. We stand for becoming an inclusive, anti-racist organization, and we stand for working through this together.
Where have we failed?
We acknowledge that we unintentionally harmed members of our diverse community, including Indigenous, Black and People of Colour, through our lack of awareness. We have leaned to white, heterosexual, binary (Male/Female), ableist norms. We have been too slow to respond to the feedback of impacted community members. We own this and sincerely apologize for the impact of our failures.
Specific examples include but are not limited to:
1. Lack of adequate entry-to-practice level diversity training in our PRAC program for cohorts who began before 2019.
2. Not adequately considering internalized racial oppression in therapeutic processing and intervention. This means not being fully aware of race in therapist/client power dynamics and potential systemic racist wounding that is not traced explicitly to ‘just like when’s’. While we have spoken about intergenerational trauma and dealt with overt racist trauma with sensitivity and apology, we have not considered the kind of covert trauma that evolves generationally, and from being treated as less than.
3. Not acknowledging the social structure that continues to dis-empower Indigenous, Black and People of Colour and focusing too heavily on individual responsibility.
4. Not adequately shifting to a fully inclusive framework, including language in our communication and teaching materials.
To whom do we need to apologize and with whom do we need to repair?
We are actively working to understand the impact of our actions and non-actions. Apology and repair is going to take time. We recognize that an apology acknowledgement in an email is only a start and that rebuilding trust and safety requires ongoing learning, communication, changes, and humility. We commit to that ongoing journey. We want to lift up those who have been marginalized, isolated, or made to feel wrong while in our care. Please know that we want to hear from you and want you to feel safe to speak.
What are we doing to rectify our errors and move forward with integrity, to start:
Personally: Dismantling bias and privilege is the work of a lifetime. We are committed to being vulnerable, open, and continuing our education and self-reflection with humility. Metaphorically, we are staying ‘naked’, and staying with the discomfort.
Organizationally: We are activating accountability measures within our organization. This means that we have further developed our policies on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Bullying and Harassment, added a Student Statement of Rights, and specified diversity training requirements for team members. We are learning together, with ongoing focus particularly on our teaching/facilitating team. We fully expect we will make more mistakes and correct these as we go.
We are creating an internal/organizational cultural safety plan to provide a framework for shifting our team culture. We are hoping this process will shed more light on what we need to shift and tools for how to make that shift. We are addressing our corporate culture (as described above) and hiring practices to attract a more diverse range of applicants and applicants well-grounded in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practices.
The Organization with our Community:
We would like to hear from our affected community members about whether an online ‘listening session’ or sessions would be of value for you. Please email Catherine at [email protected] with your thoughts on that or with other suggestions. The emphasis here is what might be of value FOR YOU. We intend to provide a safe place for you to speak, have your experience accurately reflected back, and receive acknowledgment and apology. We are committed to the repair process, and are willing to continue hearing difficult feedback with openness.
Workshop considerations going forward:
We have added contextual family, cultural and social systems information into our teaching materials on disconnection and ‘the basement’.
We are working to increase our sensitivity and awareness of racial and systemic trauma in its many forms. We have integrated some of this information into our teaching materials on disconnection and ‘the basement’.
We are working to increase our sensitivity and awareness of power dynamics in the therapeutic process associated to race and gender.
Clearmind’s mission is to accelerate personal evolution through REAL relationships. We recognize that a real relationship cannot happen unless we have legitimately arrived at a place of equal consideration for all. Right now, many are feeling legitimately outraged at the entrenched inequity, and it is important to make space for that outrage. None of us are free until we are all are free; none of us are safe until we are all safe. We are all worthy of love, consideration, support, and all deserve to thrive. We remain committed to that goal, and to the messy process of getting there.
Catherine and Duane
Catherine and Duane O’Kane are the founders of Clearmind international. It is Duane’s passion and belief that all that we strive for is held hostage in the middle of every moment, every relationship and every situation. Clearmind was birthed from these principles and continues to evolve. If you ask Catherine how Clearmind began, she says our mission statement “Love out Loud” sums it all up. Anyone can feel wonderfully inspired, but if it isn’t acted upon, it doesn’t have a life.