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The UBC rape chant and a call for rites of passage eldership

The Chinese symbol for crisis, as many know, is composed of two individual characters, one for danger and one for crucial point or opportunity. I strive to remember this when life presents me with rough waters, or in this case, when I witness a disturbance happening nearby.

The “rape-chant” incidents at the University of British Columbia and St. Mary’s University in Halifax have gone viral, producing big emotional responses from students, administrators and the general public. I was deeply affected by both incidents and found myself eagerly following the emerging news reports. Quickly I realized that my deepest interest was in the response that university leadership would make. What I’ve seen so far prompted me to write.

Though the rape chant happened during a FROSH week event, I haven’t heard anyone connected to the event mention rites of passage. Rites of passage can be described as a process of rituals of learning and expression that mark the passage of a person through the life cycle, from one stage to another over time, from one social identity to another. Aside from birth and death, the life stage transition that is considered by many rite of passage practitioners and scholars to be the most difficult and important is that of youth to young adult.

Formal, grounded, intentional, and community-based rites of passage led by skilled elders and guides are virtually non-existent in Canada at this time. Yet the innate and age-old human need for such rites are ever-present, as are the dangers of not providing them.  Modern western society has forgotten how to mentor and holistically support its youth into a health young adulthood. When adults abdicate the role of mentors and elders, they normalized the separation of youth from adults in the community, leaving the youth to initiate one another into the adult world.

This is highly dangerous, something our ancestors were all too aware of.  As well known mythologist Michael Meade has famously stated: “If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth.”

See the full article at: http://www.straight.com/news/424796/david-hatfield-ubc-rape-chant-and-call-rites-passage-eldership



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