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

Healing justice is a framework that recognizes the impact of trauma and violence on individuals and communities and names collective processes that can help heal and transform these forces. In a system and society that actively targets Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies with violence, oppression and terror, it is critical to build movements that fight for and achieve justice for all people. This justice includes healing, well-being, and not only surviving, but thriving. Resiliency and healing are strategic – we need everyone in our movements to have access to healing from trauma and violence as it strengthens all of us and all of our movements” 

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Indigenous Climate Action’s Co-founder & Healing Justice Director

Collective & Holistic Healing

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. 

“I don’t think the majority of people are ready to heal and that’s why they repress us as trans and gender variant people, because they’ve done this violence to themselves first.” –ALOK, internationally acclaimed writer, performer, and public speaker, quote from the Man Enough podcast

“So much of the resistance I encounter as a disabled academic I really think is grounded in these folks’ subconscious recognition that academia would have to be so fundamentally reordered to support my full inclusion that the institution may not, in fact, survive such an upheaval.” –Hannah Sullivan Facknitz, Disability Justice Activist, Educator, Historian


  • Healing-informed lens
    •  The lens considers how to support our community’s holistic health, minimize traumanization, prioritize holistic (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) and collective healing, as well as provide flexibility in care.
  • Healing justice
    • Learning from Indigenous and Black activists 
  • Healing as complex, non-linear, messy 
  • Boundaries: emotional, mental, time/energy, physical, material (see Liu’s article below)
  • Barriers (such as)
    • Stigma
    • Binary thinking
      • All or nothing cognitive distortion
      • Good vs evil 
      • Savior vs victim (white savior complex)
    • Re-traumatization 

  • What practices in your life brought you healing before? What practices can you return to?  💜
  • What boundaries do you need to set for yourself to be able to sustainably engage in this kind of activist work? (Coping techniques -> Liu’s article)
  • Considering that healing is ongoing and non-linear, what structures and norms need to be in place throughout this class/engagementship to support all of our wellbeing? How can we respect each other’s boundaries? How can we provide enough flexibility considering that our needs and capacities change? 💜
    • How can we implement the CDC’s 6 guiding principles to take a trauma-informed approach?
    • Ideas: weekly hour (support group?) dedicated to mental health, check-ins and check outs every class/meeting, leniency with deadlines/assignments, etc.
  • Why is rest important? How can we ensure there is space for each of us to take breaks and rest throughout this work without penalties? 💜
  • What barriers (personal, group, structural) might we face when trying to prioritize our healing? How can we address them?


  • Healing in Action: A Toolkit for Black Lives Matter Healing Justice & Direct Action by Black Lives Matter (BLM Healing Justice Working Group) 💜
    • This toolkit was created to collate, condense and share the lessons we have learned in ensuring that our direct actions are centered on healing justice. This toolkit is a beta version; it will develop in real time as we continue to uncover the implications for healing justice in our organizing. We extend our gratitude to the BLM Healing Justice Working Group and all the chapter members who shared your insights, your innovations and your struggles to support our shared knowledge.”
    • Includes grounding exercises (pg 4), organizing community support & resources (pg 5), group and individual work, etc.
    •  Sections
      • Preparing for an action
      • During an action
      • Following an action- restoration & resilience
  • Healing Justice Toolkit by Healing Justice Responders 
    • The toolkit addresses healing justice, trauma, and street rapid response. 
  • Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice Resources and Tools by Racial Equity Tools 
    • The resource includes conflict and mediation resources and tools, concepts and general resources, and restorative justice resources and tools.
  • UBC Climate Hub’s Climate Wellbeing Engagement Network 
    • This includes the Climate Wellbeing Resource Kit, resources on climate anxiety, on flooding and mental health, and more.
  • BLM Resources 
    • This includes the Healing Action Toolkit, Healing Justice Toolkit, Trayvon Taught Me Toolkit: For Black and Non-Black POC Organizers, #TalkAbout Trayvon: A Toolkit for White People, and the Black Lives Matter 4-year Anniversary Report.


  • Healing is Justice: Eriel’s Sabbatical and the Work of Healing in Climate Action by Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action 💜
    • Deranger reflects on her decision to take a sabbatical.
    • “With the support of my team at ICA and my family, I have decided that now is the time to do my own healing - healing that is integral not only for myself but to continue my mission for Indigenous-led climate justice.”
    • “I recognize that being able to take a sabbatical is a privilege. It shouldn’t be, but under our current systems in which we view activist labor as disposable, it is. We should all have opportunities for healing our minds, bodies, and hearts. As Indigenous Peoples, we have experienced trauma - trauma that is passed down through generations - as we continue to grapple with the effects of colonialism, both in the past, but as an ongoing force that seeks to destroy our ways of being. ”
    • The post defines healing justice and addresses its necessity and importance.
    • “In the era of climate change and vast social inequality, when everything is urgent and we often feel we must do everything in our power to push for change - what happens when your body says no?”
    • “ICA has been working through this question very intentionally for the last year - enacting new processes to help support our Indigenous leaders to be able to heal, to work, and to live within the context of our hurting world. We came to a place where finally addressing this was not just the right thing to do, but the necessary thing to do.”
  • “The Future of Healing: Shifting from Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement” by Dr. Shawn Ginwright  💜
    • Ginwright addresses the weaknesses of a trauma informed approach and advocates for a healing centered one. He examines how healing centered engagement is explicitly political, rather than clinical, is culturally grounded and views healing as the restoration of identity, is asset driven and focuses on well-being, and supports adult providers with their own healing. 
    • “A healing centered approach to addressing trauma requires a different question that moves beyond ‘what happened to you’ to ‘what’s right with you’ and views those exposed to trauma as agents in the creation of their own well-being rather than victims of traumatic events.”
  • “Beyond Trauma-Informed Care is Healing-Centered, Culturally Rooted Approach” by Lauren Padilla
    • Héctor Sánchez-Flores, executive director of the National Compadres Network, shares how culturally rooted healing can uplift marginalized communities.


  • Healing Resistance: A Radically Different Response to Harm by Kazu Haga 
    • “Nonviolence was once considered the highest form of activism and radical change. And yet its basic truth, its restorative power, has been forgotten. In Healing Resistance, leading trainer Kazu Haga blazingly reclaims the energy and assertiveness of nonviolent practice and shows that a principled approach to nonviolence is the way to transform not only unjust systems but broken relationships. With over 20 years of experience practicing and teaching Kingian Nonviolence, Haga offers us a practical approach to societal conflict first begun by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement, which has been developed into a fully workable, step-by-step training and deeply transformative philosophy (as utilized by the Women's March and Black Lives Matter movements). Kingian Nonviolence takes on the timely issues of endless protest and activist burnout, and presents tried-and-tested strategies for staying resilient, creating equity, and restoring peace.”
    • Recommended from  Radical Guide for Social Justice: Healing Justice
  • The Body is Not an Apology: the Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor 
    • Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies.”
    • “The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world—for us all.”
  • Taking Back Our Spirits: Indigenous Literature, Public Policy, and Healing by Jo-Ann Episkenew
    • “From the earliest settler policies to deal with the “Indian problem,” to contemporary government-run programs ostensibly designed to help Indigenous people, public policy has played a major role in creating the historical trauma that so greatly impacts the lives of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. Taking Back Our Spirits traces the link between Canadian public policies, the injuries they have inflicted on Indigenous people, and Indigenous literature’s ability to heal individuals and communities. Episkenew examines contemporary autobiography, fiction, and drama to reveal how these texts respond to and critique public policy, and how literature functions as “medicine” to help cure the colonial contagion.”

Journal articles 

  • Bartholomew, M. W., Harris, A. N., & Maglalang, D. D. (2018). A call to healing: Black lives matter movement as a framework for addressing the health and wellness of black women. Community Psychology in Global Perspective, 4(2), 85-100. 💜
    • “This paper seeks to argue that the BLM movement is a critical site for radical transformation for raising critical consciousness. In focusing on the well-being of Black people, BLM puts forth a framework of healing justice that employs an anti-racist, intersectional, holistic, and culturally and politically appropriate informed therapeutic approach. This framework addresses the historical and contemporary trauma that Black people have and continue to experience in the U.S. This paper asserts that this framework can cultivate a space of vulnerability for Black women to heal and to continue to develop resilience for liberation and self-determination.”
  • Ginwright, S. A. (2015). Radically Healing Black Lives: A Love Note to Justice. New Directions for Student Leadership, 2015(148), 33-44.
    • “This chapter describes how present conditions in Black communities have fostered the development of new modes of youth leadership that focus on hope, love, and joy, and are ultimately restorative and redemptive.”
  • Tuck, Eve 2009 Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities. Harvard Educational Review 79(3): 409– 428
    •  “In this open letter, Eve Tuck calls on communities, researchers, and educators to reconsider the long-term impact of "damage-centered" research-research that intends to document peoples' pain and brokenness to hold those in power accountable for their oppression. This kind of research operates with a flawed theory of change: it is often used to leverage reparations or resources for marginalized communities yet simultaneously reinforces and reinscribes a one-dimensional notion of these people as depleted, ruined, and hopeless. Tuck urges communities to institute a moratorium on damage-centered research to reformulate the ways research is framed and conducted and to reimagine how findings might be used by, for, and with communities.”


  • ALOK: The Urgent Need for Compassion | The Man Enough Podcast  💜 💜 💜
    • Content warning: discussion of transphobia, violence of the gender binary, and racism
    • Do you know who you are outside of who you have been told you should be? Acclaimed gender non-conforming writer, performer, and speaker, ALOK, shares their story, and the stories of those who came before them, with an urgency that invites us to step into our power and the power of interdependence. As the creator of the growing movement to degender fashion, ALOK is helping others move beyond the binary into full expression. In a conversation filled with wisdom, historical insight, and radical mercy, ALOK challenges us to value compassion over comprehension, to try harder for each other in the name of love, and reminds us that learning is a sign of being alive.
  • Listen to ‘Don’t Call Me Resilient’: Our podcast about race by Vinita Srivastava 
    • Don’t Call Me Resilient'' is a provocative new podcast about race from The Conversation. Host Vinita Srivastava takes you deep into conversations with scholars and activists who view the world, its problems, and the way forward through an anti-racist lens. Instead of calling those who have survived the pain of systemic racism ‘resilient,’ this podcast goes in search of solutions for the things no one should have to be resilient for.”
  • Dr. Joy DeGruy: Access to Respect | The Man Enough Podcast
    • Dr. Joy DeGruy challenges us to look at the systems of patriarchy, racism, and neglect that have caused incredible injury for generations. Renowned researcher, educator and author, her dedication to healing has led her to develop revolutionary models and tools aimed at increasing racial and social justice. With passion and wisdom, Dr. DeGruy enlightens us all to connect with our intrinsic worth."

Trans people can actually teach the world that transition is possible. Not just between genders but between paradigms.”  -ALOK, internationally acclaimed writer, performer, and public speaker quote from the Man Enough podcast

Critical Hope 

“Hope is not the absence of despair-- it is the ability to come back to our purpose, again and again.” -Alicia Garza, The Purpose of Power (co-creator of Black Lives Matter) 

“Anger and grief have a seat at the table. I think there is something to be said about critical hope as a way of treating anger and grief, so that we are not just tolerating its presence in our home, in our lives and in ourselves but we are actually welcoming it and asking what we can learn from it.” - Dr. Kari Grain, author of Critical Hope (North Atlantic Books)


  • Building/sustaining hope
    • Hope as a practice 
  • Role and importance of hope in activist work

  • What brings you hope/energy/joy when engaging with your activist community? 
  • What does not bring you hope/energy/joy when engaging with your activist community?
  • How can we sustain collective hope even when things fall apart?
  • Why is hope important in activist work? 


  •  The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel, Czech former dissident, playwright, and president 
    • Written in 1978, Václav Havel’s meditation on political dissent – the rituals of its suppression, and the sparks that re-ignite it – would prove the guiding manifesto for uniting Solidarity movements across the Soviet Union. A portrait of activism in the face of falsehood and intimidation, The Power of the Powerless remains a rousing call against the allure of apathy.”


  • "On Protest and Hope as Social Inquiry" by Dr. William Paris 
    • In 1948, Marxist philosopher C.L.R. James, addressing Black political militancy, insisted “that the independent Negro movement that we see today and which we see growing before our eyes is nothing strange. It is nothing new. It is something that has always appeared in the American movement at the first sign of social crisis” (184). Following James, I believe the protests we saw this past year in the wake of the murder of George Floyd should not surprise us. They should not surprise us because American society has been in crisis for decades. But these protests also should not surprise us because, as James reminds us, Black struggle has “deep historic roots in the past of America and in present struggles” (180). Something is quite wrong in the basic structure of American social life, yet these protests are a sign of hope. But how we should understand this hope is not yet clear.”
  • "Even when optimism has been lost, hope has a role to play" by Dr. Katie Stockdale and Dr. Michael Milona 
    • Confronted with the most significant crises of our times, patient hope and hope tainted by fear are among the final forms of rational hope available that can prevent us from falling into despair.”
  • “Why politics needs hope (but no longer inspires it)" by Dr. Titus Stahl
    • “In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the word ‘hope’ was ubiquitous in Western politics. While its use in the Barack Obama presidential campaign has become iconic, appeal to hope was not limited to the United States: the Leftist Greek Syriza party relied on the slogan ‘hope is on the way’, for example, and many other European parties embraced similar rallying cries. Since then, however, we rarely hear or see ‘hope’ in the public sphere.”

Journal articles

  • The Social Justice Turn: Cultivating ‘Critical Hope’ in an Age of Despair” by Dr. Kari Grain and Dr. Darren E. Lund
    • Recent global headlines about suicide attacks, xenophobic rhetoric, systemic gun violence, and the continued displacement of those fleeing civil war and environmental catastrophe have foregrounded social justice issues pertaining to race, nationality, socioeconomic status, religion, and a host of other factors. We suggest in this paper that the pervasive despair of our current historical moment has necessitated the urgent development of the conceptual “Social Justice Turn” in service-learning. This move uses as a foundational starting point three trends that have been consistently marginalized but are gaining momentum in our field: a) critique of the field’s roots in charity; b) a problematization of White normativity, paired with the bolstering of diverse voices and perspectives, and c) the embrace of emotional elements including tension, ambiguity, and discomfort. Finally, we offer “critical hope” (Bozalek, Carolissen, Liebowitz, & Boler, 2014; Freire, 2007) as a conceptual space in which service-learning as a field may simultaneously acknowledge the historical and contextual roots of current despair, while using this affective element as a pedagogical and curricular means to engage service-learning more intentionally as a vehicle for social justice goals.”
  • “Harnessing Hope through NGO Activism” by Dr. Sasha Courville and Dr. Nicola Piper (2004)
    • “This article explores the relationship between hope and agency in the contexts of migrant rights activism and alternative trading relationships created through social and environmental certification systems. Using interviews with key respondents from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), hope is assigned a positive role in the complex process of social change, providing that common goals can be agreed upon and achieved along the way. Two main layers of analysis emerge in this article. The first explores the relationship between hope and agency, with a particular focus on power, both enabling and coercive. Powerful groups can hijack hope, but also hope can be used to mobilize various marginalized groups to find a collective voice, eventually leading to empowerment. The power relations among groups determine how competing collective hopes play out in action. A second layer to the relationship between hope and action is the way in which hope effects social change. Through conceptualizing hope within the context of the change process, we address the relationship between hope, agency, and time. An important ingredient linking hope, agency, and time in a sustainable manner is the notion of empowerment.”


  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
    • First published in Portuguese in 1968, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was translated and published in English in 1970. The methodology of the late Paulo Freire has helped to empower countless impoverished and illiterate people throughout the world. Freire's work has taken on especial urgency in the United States and Western Europe, where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is increasingly accepted as the norm. With a substantive new introduction on Freire's life and the remarkable impact of this book by writer and Freire confidant and authority Donaldo Macedo, this anniversary edition of Pedagogy of the Oppressed will inspire a new generation of educators, students, and general readers for years to come.”
  • Critical Hope (2022) by Dr. Kari Grain
    • “Hope is transformational–but in moments of despair, or when you’re up against profound injustice, it isn’t enough on its own. Hope without action is, at best, naive. At its worst, it tricks you into giving up the power and agency you have to change systems that cause suffering.”
    • “Enter critical hope: a spark of passion, an abiding belief that transformation is not just possible, but vital. This is hope in action: a vibrant, engaged practice and commitment to honoring transformative potential across a vast spectrum of experience.”
    • “Here, Dr. Kari Grain, PhD, introduces critical hope: what it is, how it works, and why we each need it if we’re to be a conduit of change in an unjust world. Inspired by her global research, teaching experiences, and education curriculum taught at the University of British Columbia, Grain argues that to cultivate critical hope (and combat despair), you need to show up with your whole self, in all its messy, passionate, vibrant complexity.”


  • Critical Hope in the Public Sphere panel event by the SAR&HR Collective 
    • During this event we explored the importance of (critical) hope, how we can sustain it, and how it has and could be integrated into activism work and academia. Featuring guest panelists: Andrea Reimer (she/her), Dr. Peter Biar Ajak (he/him) and Dr. Kari Grain and moderated by Antonin Lacelle - Webster.”
    • About the event 
    • Blog post summarizing the event 
    • Resources from the event:
      • Dr. Peter Biar Ajak mentioned The Cure at Troy by Seamus Heaney
      • Dr. Kari Grain mentioned:
        • Gloria Anzaldúa
        • Poem by Rumi- Love as a Guest House

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