Naomi Sayers – Trauma-Informed Practice & Cultural Competency (#8)

How do we help law help people? Law doesn’t work if it’s not helping people. ~ Naomi Sayers

Naomi Sayers (@kwetoday) is an Indigenous lawyer, teacher, writer and advocate who is committed to making the law work better for people – especially those who have experienced trauma.

She is passionate about re-framing the problems we find in the law to address past wrongs and move toward a better future. Part of this passion takes the form of training she provides to legal professionals in the area of trauma-informed practice.

In this episode, Naomi introduces us to some of the big concepts around trauma-informed approaches that put clients first and equip legal professionals to avoid harm and deliver better services for clients. She also guides us through an introduction to cultural competency, with a focus on Indigenous people and their interactions with law and justice.

Throughout this conversation, Naomi shares some powerful, occasionally heart-wrenching, examples to convey the magnitude of the challenges facing people in this area. She also highlights our collective potential (and responsibility) as legal professionals to move in the right direction.

Topics Covered

  1. Prison Abolition 
  2. Gladue sentencing and restorative justice for Indigenous People
  3. Access to public services for Indigenous People
  4. Trauma-informed legal practice
  5. Racialization and exclusion of Indigenous people
  6. Cultural competency
  7. Perspectives on Indigenous Law

Listen to “8 Naomi Sayers – Trauma-Informed Practice and Cultural Competency” on Spreaker.

The Quiz for this episode is here

Pre-approved by the Law Society of BC for 1.3 hours of CPD credits.

Pre-approved by the Law Society of Ontario for 0.3 hours/minutes of Professionalism Content and 0:30 hours/minutes of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) content.

Are you a member of a law society outside BC or ON? Try here.

Show Notes

Naomi’s writing on prison abolition 7:30

Gladue sentencing 7:50

Restorative justice 8:05

Lack of services for Indigenous people / criminalization of people to access services 9:20

Sex workers’ bad date reporting networks 12:40

Teaching at Algoma University 14:30

Naomi’s path to becoming a lawyer 17:07

Naomi’s advice for people considering law school 19:00

What Naomi would say in an email to herself on the first day of law school 19:30

How Naomi describes her work to other people 23:45

Naomi’s website for her solo practice 23:26

How Naomi became interested in trauma-informed practice 24:20

The harm reduction and trauma-informed care model 24:40

Identifying trauma-informed approaches from non-trauma informed approaches 27:15

Law Times News article with quotes “Trauma-informed advocacy means, to me, understanding that your client is the expert” and“People are the experts in their own lives, so [lawyers] need to learn to not take things personally.” 30:25

The difficulty for some professionals to accept that clients might know more than them 33:15

Reframing the conversation to help law help people 39:40

The potential for law to exploit people 40:10

How is law being used, who is using it and who is able to use it? 40:50

There’s often nothing preventing lawyers for asking for something on a client’s behalf 42:40

Indian Day School Settlement 42:50 

Trauma-informed practice vs cultural-informed practice 46:30

Changes Naomi would make to the system 51:45

Stop associating Indigenous law only with treaties, aboriginal law and criminal law 52:20

The responsibility of lawyers to be more culturally aware and take a trauma-informed approach 57:30

Regulators addressing these issues, but not to the point of over-regulation 1:00:00

Public legal education to help people find better lawyers and ask for better service 1:02:45

As a lawyer, you have to remember you’re dealing with people and that law can cause emotional responses 1:05:46

How Naomi defines success for herself 1:07:37

The toughest choice or sacrifice Naomi made to get where she is today 1:08:02

If she had to do a week’s worth of work in 3 hours 1:09:11

Things Naomi does to look after herself 1:10:10

Key resources or places for busy people who want to learn more about trauma-informed practice 1:12:11

Before my work in the law is done, I want to… 1:13:30

Favourite book in the last year Assholes: A Theory by Aaron James 1:14:49

Favourite podcast: Red Man Laughing by Ryan McMahon 1:16:00

Naomi’s former blog –  and current blog 1:17:10

Naomi’s calls to action 1:17:47

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