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Building Community Resilience Through Film Screenings

The Safe Spaces Network, a project of Northside Rising, aims to create a more trauma- informed Cape Breton Regional Municipality. As the name suggests, the Safe Spaces Network’s primary focus is to explore the conditions needed to foster healing on both an individual and community level in spaces that people access.  

We can all play an integral part in building a trauma-informed community- educating ourselves and those around us is a crucial first step. By properly equipping our community with information about trauma, and how it can present itself, we will be able to work towards a world that is more understanding, supporting and empathetic.  

We need to find new, innovative ways of learning and engaging with one another. Over the last several months, Northside Rising, through its project Safe Spaces Network, have been hosting a series of free film screenings and community discussions to get the conversation going here in Cape Breton. 

Photo 1: Community members watching Wisdom of Trauma  

“As a community, when we identify how and when to support community members during the course of development, we can change how the story unfolds so that all of us, regardless of background and life circumstances, have the chance to lead happier, and healthier lives, build stronger communities, and foster opportunities to heal collectively. ”

Suzi Oram-Aylward, Safe Spaces Coordinator at Northside Rising 

The idea behind this series was to find a community engagement platform which would allow us to introduce the concepts of Safe Spaces Network and trauma informed practice in a way that could be replicated across Inspiring Communities initiatives. 

Watching a film together as a community is a beautiful and eye-opening tool for bringing about social impact. Films can unravel hidden stories and can introduce us to other perspectives and individuals that we otherwise would not have an opportunity to interact with. 

These events are meant to establish and build on increasing comprehension through compassion using film and facilitated community conversations to show participants tangible ways of weaving trauma informed practice into their individual lives, and how they engage with others.  

Photo 2: Suzi Oram-Aylward, Safe Spaces Coordinator, facilitates community discussion for Paper Tigers

This series, which include documentaries such as Wisdom of Trauma, Paper Tigers, and Resilience, has been very successful and the community conversations being the highlight. There have been cross community partnerships built and evaluation has shown us that learning together and doing it in-person are so needed after the last several years in isolation and just being online.  

“This film (Wisdom of Trauma) reinforced my belief in the importance of holding space, for one another and how knowledge about trauma can prevent.” 

event participant, Wisdom of Trauma

During each of the free film screenings, participants will watch a documentary meant to introduce a key concept of the Safe Spaces Network. They will then participate in a community discussion to reflect on how organizations and individuals in the communities of CBRM can work towards creating more understanding and empathy in our communities. 

Key Concepts of the Safe Spaces Network: 

Film Documentary Key Concepts
Wisdom of TraumaIndividual Trauma, Community Trauma, Addiction  
Paper TigersACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)  
ResilienceResilience, Toxic Stress 
Table 1: Safe Spaces Network Key Concepts

This film screening and community discussion series was designed to be recreated across the province through our IC site initiatives and can be used as a shared resource for our partners. 

Each event comes with its own introduction, facilitation plan, discussion guide and evaluation form (designed to be adapted for each community). This means that aside from a location fee, these events can now be implemented at little to no cost and formatted to gain valuable community connections and partnerships.  

” Although I was aware of these concepts, learning in community and meeting different people with different points of view was eye opening “

event participant, Paper Tigers

Finding innovative ways to gather, co-learn and create more understanding and empathy in our communities are needed now more than ever and film screenings are one of the ways we can engage the community and spark conversations about how we can improve the systems and contribute to making a positive impact in our society.  

If you are interested to know more about Safe Spaces Network or hold a screening, please do not hesitate to reach out to Safe Spaces Coordinator, Suzi Oram-Aylward at saylward@inspiringcommunities.ca

Make sure to also sign up to Northside Rising’s mailing list or follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get updates on Safe Spaces Network and other community activities.   

Northside Rising is an initiative by Inspiring Communities.

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