Community Care Module

Purpose & Importance

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”

– Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light

In order for activists including students, faculty, and community members to engage in the UBC Human Rights Collective (HRC) in a sustainable manner, addressing and openly talking about how to practice community care is essential. Community members are joining the HRC from different positionalities, lived experiences, and starting points. While some people will experience or show signs of little impact on their health as they engage with the HRC, others will be more severely impacted. We want to ensure that we care for all members of the Collective and create a supportive environment in which we prioritize everyone’s holistic (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) health.

In her article “Healing is Justice”, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, the Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action, reflects that, “As many of us know, activism takes a toll on us mentally, emotionally and physically. Coupled with the stresses of our personal lives, this can create a toxic mixture that eventually leads to burnout.” Deranger makes visible activists’ mental and emotional labor that is often taken for granted and left unacknowledged. 

Furthermore, in the article “Trauma and Social Justice”, Hala Khouri, a counselor specializing in trauma with over 10 years of experience, writes, “Social injustice is traumatizing. This needs to be named in trauma work. When this doesn’t happen, individuals can be blamed for behavior that is a natural response to an overwhelming or untenable situation.Khouri’s reflection applies to the HRC as students, faculty, and community members may feel unprepared and overwhelmed by intersecting social injustices outside of their control. The community of people involved in the HRC can face burnout and secondary traumatization, while not having the resources needed to support their wellbeing. Addressing these health issues and providing more resources is important as it would support the people in this Collective and ensure that we can engage in activism sustainably over the long term. 

Approach to Community Care 

  • Lenses: humanizing/holistic, intersectional, anti-oppressive, trauma and healing informed 
  • Centering community 
    • The module assumes that communities know what is best for them.
  • Building self-trust: trusting your intuition & knowledge 
    • The module encourages you to trust yourself and your lived experiences rather than relying on “experts” to tell you how to feel/react.
  • Building community trust:
    • Rather than ping-ponging students to institutional resources (counselling, etc.), the module encourages your community to build trust, skills, norms, and structures that sustain community care. 

A Note on Seeking Institutional Support

The approach encouraged in this module is for communities engaged in the SAR&HR Collective’s activist work to build trust, skills, norms, and structures to care for one another. This differs from the norm where supervisors/instructors redirect students and community members to institutional health resources that are often not trauma and social justice informed. Rather than redirecting responsibility, this module asks, “What norms and structures can we create within this Collective to care for one another?” It also asks you to trust your intuition and experience rather than seeking for a “professional” to define your experience.

For people who still wish to seek institutional support, UBC’s resources have been provided: UBC’s health resources 

  • Campus Lightbox– Summarizes information about UBC mental health resources

Table of Contents

Note: Click on the chapter to access. Each chapter includes a list of key topics, reflection/discussion questions, and various types of resources.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Community Care

  • The first chapter introduces what community care is, including how it differs from self-care. I also introduce the concept of holistic health to show the importance of holistic safety and accessibility. My hope is that the chapter prompts discussion on the importance of community care in activist spaces.
  •  Sections
    • Introduction & Importance
    • Holistic Health

Chapter 2: Activists’ Health Struggles due to Injustice

  • The second chapter addresses common health struggles that activists face as they are exposed to various forms of injustice throughout their work.
  •  Sections
    • Activist Burnout
    • Vicarious Trauma
    • Grief
    • Depression
    • Anxiety

Chapter 3: “Healing is Justice” (-Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action)

  • This chapter brings in a healing informed lens to ask how we can address activist’ health struggles including vicarious trauma, burnout, grief, depression, and anxiety.
  •  Sections
    • Collective & Holistic Healing
    • Critical Hope

Final Reflections

  • This chapter includes final reflection questions to wrap up the whole module.

Meet the Author 

This module was developed by Nastya Mozolevych (she/her), a Ukrainian student studying Sociology and International Relations, activist, and Program Assistant for the UBC Human Rights Collective.




Thank you to these wonderful humans whose feedback shaped the module 💜

  • Community consultations:  
    • Adriana Laurent
    • Rachel Cheang
    • Hannah Facknitz 
    • Mulalo Sadike
    • Holly Benna
    • Tamara Baldwin
    • Dr. Jenny Peterson

Limitations & Disclaimers

  • My positionality: 
    • I am not a trained counselor. 
    • I have gained some knowledge on the trauma informed lens due to my lived experiences and volunteer work with the AMS Sexual Assault Support Center (SASC). I then applied a trauma and healing informed lens to my work with the Gender+ Collective to help create the Community-Based Research & Data Justice Guide.
    • I am not an “expert” on the topics covered in this module but my lived experiences of having depression and anxiety due to trauma have informed my approach and determination to build this module.
  • Disclaimer about the term “healing”:  This module adapts the Dignity and Power Now’s definition of healing as “an ongoing process of mending as well as building power, resilience, and resistance to transform systems of oppression”. This definition is unlike the Western, medicalized, and capitalist one that believes marginalized people, including people with disabilities, need to be “cured” or “fixed” in order to assimilate. The medicalized definition of healing prioritized by dominant society has not been working: it is creating harm and maintaining systems of power that cause trauma in the first place. 
  • Caution when discussing trauma:
    • If not done in a trauma-informed way, discussing these topics may trigger and re-traumatize people. 
    • Discussions about trauma need to be done within boundaries, with awareness about power dynamics, care, and with trauma-informed facilitators. 
  • The centering of reflection/discussion questions reflects a Western bias in psychotherapy where talking is used to process emotions. However, talking is often not the best way to process emotions and experiences. There is a need to use a variety of other methods (such as art and movement) that are culturally specific and suitable for a diverse group of individuals. 
  • Research gaps in journal articles & need for a variety of sources
    • To my knowledge, there aren’t many journal articles examining activists’ experiences of trauma, anxiety, and depression due to injustice. 
      • Some articles only frame activism as an “antidote” to depression but there are few who show how activists can experience depression due to their work.
    • Considering the limitations within “academic” literature and for the purpose of accessibility, this module uses a variety of sources and ways of knowing. The sources include articles, videos, books, guides, podcasts, and journal articles. 

Licensing and Usage Rights

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Please use this citationMozolevych, Anastasiya. (2021). Community Care Module. Vancouver, BC.