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Hi, Intimates! We talk with Yana Skorstengaard again today about her thesis in art therapy. Her research reveals great results from programs for incarcerated folks. Programs involving art can create the kind of self expression and other communication skills necessary for functional relationships.

Outside of programs within incarceration, there are also alternatives available to a very small number of incarcerated folks including indigenous healing lodges. While I acknowledge both she and I are settlers which is to say non-indigenous to this land, the success of the healing lodge programs and our inability to create more spaces like it is too important not to mention, so we’re going to go ahead and try in a flawed and somewhat self aware fashion.

Strategies developed by indigenous peoples in relationship repair and accountability for harming other folks in society are often radically different in approach from European descended strategies like incarceration, and it’s worth lifting up the voices and values of marginalized cultures.

This is especially easy when values align. For example, settler society here in Canada values efficiency, effectiveness, and science-mindedness. Really, we love numeric results, which often plays a role in how we spend our money as a society. However when we see marginalized cultures being far more successful than us, the least we as settlers can do is suck less. Other than the obvious option of being less racist in how we jail, try, and sentence folks, sucking less is easiest when we become open to win-win situations.

Our values for results are aligned with indigenous values for relationship repair as a holistic process that considers offenders and victims, not just the relationship between offender and society focused around a social contract – to use colonial language.

tl:dr – we could be less violent in how we treat consequences of harming others. There are ways to divert people who would be harmed by our traditional system. Yet we haven’t capitalized on solutions like healing lodges that improve recidivism rates by about 100% which is to say they double the number who leave incarceration and stay out of incarceration. That is a truly remarkable accomplishment, literally twice as effective at what we supposedly value: rehabilitation and a restoration of the social contract.

Well, let’s get into the session with Yana and chat more about how art can help people become more intimate with themselves and what her experience was visiting a healing lodge as a settler.