New Indigenous-led program in Edmonton helps people work through anger, frustration

A new program offered by the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society is looking to tackle feelings of anger and frustration, and provide guidance for how to process those feelings.

Eye of the Storm is offered by the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society

The Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society is a non-profit that provides supports for Indigenous youth and their families. It has run programs in Edmonton for years, with the newest offering focused on helping participants process and better understand feelings of anger and frustration. (Supplied by Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society)

Through a difficult winter for many in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of anger and frustration can be common.

A new six-week program offered by the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society is looking to tackle that and provide guidance for how to understand and process those feelings.

Eye of the Storm: Our Brain on Anger helps participants better understand how our brains work when we're angry and how to effectively deal with those emotions.

"We want to set our intention in making this a safe program for everybody," said Patty Rolinger, a co-facilitator of the program, in an interview with CBC's Edmonton AM on Monday.

"We all have pain, and we want to acknowledge that pain that we've got, but we also want to be able to use that so we can move forward and be able to share and learn from each other."

A non-profit organization, Bent Arrow has helped Indigenous children, youth and families in the Edmonton area for nearly 30 years. Eye of the Storm is being offered through Bent Arrow's Kikosewin Family Resource Network, which offers supports in child development and well-being, social connections and strengthening parenting abilities.

Eye of the Storm seeks to help participants realize that when things are chaotic, there are more effective ways to deal with feelings of being angry or overwhelmed.

The program begins on Thursday of this week. It is being facilitated virtually over Zoom.

"We do a lot of healing teachings through the medicine wheel. And with this in mind, this is where we want to really focus on our emotional, spiritual, mental and physical self," Rolinger said.

Rolinger has worked on similar workshops on anger through the John Howard Society of Grande Prairie. She said she's often tended to bury emotions like those discussed in the new program. Facilitating the program for John Howard taught her to understand herself better, communicate more effectively and be more forgiving of herself, she said.

When she feels overwhelmed and frustrated, she practises forgiving herself for past mistakes and recognizing she's human, she said. When her feelings start to take over, she'll take time for herself by going for a walk, working on an art project or even just talking out loud through her feelings.

One of Rolinger's major goals in facilitating Eye of the Storm is to ensure that participants feel safe and that they can forgive themselves.

She also hopes the program goes beyond anger and taps into lessons teaching participants to honour themselves and their strengths.

"We're just asking people to have an open mind and an open heart as we plant these seeds of knowledge."