E Tū Whānau inspires Canadian researcher

A glimpse of E Tū Whānau in action was “an inspiration” and an “eye-opener” for visiting Canadian researcher, Dalal Badawi.

The University of Toronto Masters student said that a Māori world view, as expressed in the E Tū Whānau kaupapa with its potential for supporting positive change in all communities, provided her with enduring insights.

“The deceptively simple idea that a person or family is primarily accountable to their community which wraps itself around and supports them through their journey of change, is logical and so impactful,” says Dalal Badawi.

Dalal was in the midst of a three-month stint at the Women’s Health Unit at Victoria University researching the resettlement experience of migrants and refugees in Aotearoa when she accepted an invitation to the first E Tū Whānau Kahukura hui held in June 2018.

“It was an eye opening experience to see community organisers, and community members, including people who had been perpetrators of family violence, sitting in the same room as people in government.

“It’s easy to imagine how change could happen when people with the power to create change and those who could most benefit from it, are in the same room talking and listening to each other.”

Refugee experience

Dalal is a member of Canada’s Iraqi community. She was just eight years old when she and her family arrived in Canada, four years after fleeing the increasingly volatile and violent situation in their home in the southern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Growing up, Dalal developed an interest in First Nations culture and the issues faced by the indigenous people of her new home.

“I became aware of the misinformation about Canada’s history that we were taught in school, and a lack of awareness of, and collaboration with First Nations people. When I got to university, I made an effort to be more involved.”

Connections to Māori

Although she knew little about Māori before coming to New Zealand, she recognised in the kōrero at the Kahukura hui, similarities with her personal experience growing up in a culture different from that of the majority. She was interested to hear refugee and migrants views on the problems that exist in their communities and the positive changes they are seeing as a result of using the E Tū Whānau framework.

“It was particularly interesting to hear from a Somali woman called Naima who talked about the prevalence of violence in her community, and the stigma around it which means that it’s not openly talked about.  She talked about how forums like the Kahukura hui can change that.”

Dalal is taking a very important lesson back home with her.

“In order to directly impact social change, you need to have people who understand the experience that those in need are going through in the same pace as those with the power to make change. I’ll definitely be pushing for places like this when I get back to Toronto.”