Michael Lapsley’s international visit

29 April 2024

Discover the rich encounters of this memorable visit

We were delighted to welcome Michael Lapsley, founder of the Healing Memories workshop, to Quebec from March 20 to 30, 2024, as part of an international visit to North America.

Please read this article to learn more about Michael Lapsley’s life story.

Fresh from South Africa, Michael Lapsley and his accompanier Philani Dlamini, were invited to meet the CSJR Board of Directors and permanent team on Thursday, March 21. A warm aperitif dinner to get to know each other better and celebrate our partnership since 2016 was organized.

On Friday March 22, we headed for Trois-Rivières to prepare the first Quebec edition of the Phase II Memory Healing workshop. Michael Lapsley provided training for the facilitators, who were happy to deepen their knowledge based on the experience of facilitating the Phase I workshop.

On Saturday March 23, we welcomed 35 people from all over Quebec to our Phase II workshop. Open to those who had attended one of our last 12 Phase I workshops, this one quickly sold out. Its theme: What to do with anger? How to overcome hatred? How to deal with forgiveness ? Etc. It aimed to continue the personal journey that had begun during the Phase I workshop. Michael Lapsley said it was the largest Phase II workshop ever organized around the world. Participants and facilitators were happy to see each other again.

On Sunday, March 24, the CSJR collaborated with the Manawan community and invited chef Sipi Flamand and some 15 community leaders to brunch. Michael’s history and experience in South Africa helped put the issues faced here into perspective.

Brian Bronfman of the Network for Peace and Social Harmony and Amal Elsana of PLEDJ – Canada (Promoting Leadership for Empowerment, Development, and Justice) were interested in meeting Michael Lapsley and learning more about the Healing of Memories workshops as part of their project entitled “Dialogues of Solidarity: Strengthening our Common Spaces in Times of Conflict“. This encounter led to several Jewish and Muslim leaders meeting on March 25. A frank exchange on existing tensions in Quebec and the importance of creating spaces for “courageous, non-violent conversations.” A project to follow.

On Tuesday, March 26, Michael Lapsley and the CSJR met with Lauréanne Fontaine and William Daibhid Fraser, the Ville de Montréal’s Aboriginal Relations Officers. It was a most rewarding informal exchange.

In the evening, the main event of Michael Lapsley’s visit took place: a captivating public evening on the theme “Guérir du passé / Redeeming the past,” with the participation of Michael Lapsley and Mohawk Elder Tom Dearhouse.

We were fortunate enough to be hosted in the magnificent space of the First Peoples Justice Center of Montreal, a wonderful partnership for which we are grateful. We savoured Chef Swaneige’s delicious buffet of First Nations dishes. Thank you to Rose-Anne Gosselin, facilitator for the Healing Memories workshops, who animated the evening with brio and gentleness.

The two men shared their life stories, which coincided in many ways. Their testimonies clearly demonstrated how overcoming personal hardship can be metamorphosed into social commitment.

Following this exchange, we were treated to the magnificent traditional Indigenous song and dance of Owen Skahionwiio Mayo and Kwena Boivin. We were particularly moved by their heartfelt and instructive performances. The evening ended on a high note with a superb intertribal dance and peace pipe ceremony hosted by Tom Dearhouse.

Amélie Mouton, a journalist with Radio-Canada Espaces autochtones, attended the event. Read her article here.

Discover the evening’s discussions and lessons in the video below:

On Wednesday, March 27, Michael Lapsley met with a dozen students from the Building 21 community, a multidisciplinary research institute at McGill University. The meeting, organized by Carole Graveline, enabled the students to learn more about the healing process proposed by Michael Laspley and to place it in both an individual and a collective context. The students were touched by this encounter and appreciated the human exchange that took place in this university setting. Their curiosity and interest in the Memory Healing approach and Michael’s journey were palpable.

On Thursday, March 28, Michael Lapsley and several members of the CSJR team were invited by the community of Waseskun, an indigenous Healing Centre for rehabilitating indigenous men.

It was a privilege to take part in 2 talking circles with Mohawk Elder Bryan Deer and 35 native men who reside at the center. Indigenous women were also present, some working with the correctional service and others with the Missinak organization in Quebec City. We received wonderful testimonials from residents who appreciate the feeling of being part of a family in this unique place in Quebec and whose teachings are close to their cultures. After dinner, a resident offered a tour of this living space, which enables them to heal through various indigenous ceremonies.

The in-depth exchanges were very touching, truthful, welcoming and open-hearted. They allowed us to hear wounded stories, both individual and collective, but also stories of resilience. It was a day that reminds us of our common humanity and the importance of journeying together.

Michael Lapsley and Philani Dlamini then flew to Nunavik, where a Phase I Memory Healing workshop was held for the first time. The visit was organized by a committee of Inuit women and a former workshop participant. Michael was able to discover Inuit culture and share his journey and experiences.

The CSJR would like to thank Health Canada – the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) for making this visit possible, and all our partners in this week of enriching encounters, especially:

  • Sipi Flamand, Thérèse Niquay, Jennifer Petiquay-Dufresne, and the Manawan community leaders for their trust,
  • Brian Bronfman, Amal Elsana, and the various Jewish and Muslim leaders we met for their openness,
  • The team of the First Peoples Justice Center of Montreal for their generosity,
  • The Waseskun team and its residents for their welcome,
  • The CSJR Memory Healing Committee and,
  • All those who contributed in any way to this international visit.

Discover the photo slideshow of Lucie Brousseau, Memory Healing facilitator, and professional photographer, who followed every day of this unforgettable visit:

Photo credit: Lucie Brousseau

Centre de services de justice réparatrice | 7333 rue Saint Denis, Montréal Qc H2R2E5 | 514 933-3737 | csjr@csjr.org 

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