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Feedback will be in “quotes,” and notes from me will be in [square brackets]. The code is to keep students anonymous and reminds me of the semester, year, and the random number assigned to each page. Feedback from students is entirely voluntary – while there were only 30 in attendance (winter storm) – below is the feedback submitted at the next class on November 12th (lower attendance due to worse weather conditions).

Monday, November 11th, 2019, topic “Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health”, Violence in Society course, 3rd & 4th year students, Criminology Department, Ryerson University.

RU01A2019: “Christine, thank you for the informative and passionate presentation, yesterday, Monday, November 11th. I could tell that mental health and advocating for those struggling with mental health challenges, especially members of the LGBTQ2S communities, as well as educating people on the topic and relevant information is very important to you. I found the presentation to be sad as I have family members who struggle with mental health, and hearing about others’ struggles makes me think of them. Furthermore, it is discouraging what people do, the hate crimes against LGBTQ2S people, people of colour within those communities, and against first responders, especially in cases of sanctuary trauma. I wanted to ask what your thoughts are on people with mental health challenges reading books about the struggles of other people. My family member mentioned that she finds it hard, but I decided not to ask because I figured the answer would be depends on the purpose of the book. Thank you again for the presentation. Two things I am taking away from it is to show empathy for others (and what each of the letters stand for), and to keep in mind when my cognitive biases are affecting my perception. I applaud your work entirely, but especially your work with police as we know this is very much needed.”

[On reading books about mental health – the better publishers will include the appropriate trigger warnings at the start of a book. Such is the case in Brainstorm Revolution, so that people can choose to read or not, the stories within. I find it unfair to spring things on people who are working on their growth and resiliency. Don’t force it, work with what works best in each case.]

RU02A2019: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for speaking to our Violence in Society class and sharing your personal experiences that you encountered. The presentation allowed me to gain insight on the history of violence that took place in the United States, all of which I knew nothing about, and the affect it had on the LGBTQ communities. It made me realize that as individuals, we do not know what another person’s life experiences are like, and that we should not be so quick to judge. Instead, we should come together as one and support each other.”

RU03A2019: “Hi Christine, thank you so much for your presentation yesterday. My favourite part was when you asked people to stand up and declare that we would all like to contribute to making the world a better, safer, and more inclusive place for EVERYONE.”

[The hero exercise near the end is always popular, see graphic below from Unconventional Love Stories – Barrie, Ontario – Valentine’s Day 2019]

RU04A2019: “The lecture was very informative. I appreciated you sharing your own stories, I believe that will help people gain a better perspective. The statistics were also very useful. You are clearly very passionate about these issues and it is good to see that your presentation helps people that may not be ready to have that “uncomfortable” conversation about issues. Thank you so much for sharing your stories, Christine.”

[I was pleased to be able to squeeze in 50 years of history in 90 minutes of lecture.]

RU05A2019: “The lecture was very insightful on issues related to violence against LGBTQ individuals. Through your experiences and the cases you mentioned, I have become much more educated on the issues these groups face. In future, I would like to hear a great deal more about racial/ethnic minorities and the violence they face. I would like more specifics on types and statistics.”

[Unfortunately, there are not a lot of cases publicly available for discussion. Statistics still remain sketchy at best, as much is underreported in case files. See recent story from The Guardian (published the day after the lecture) about highest number of hate crimes in the United States in 16 years according to FBI.]

RU06A2019: “Christine, thank you for coming in to visit and speak with our class. I very much enjoyed your lecture and found it very inspiring. I think it is always a good thing to learn about the struggles of others and found the presentation very educational. Even with having heard about a lot of the history before, I still learned something new, and it helped me to remember pieces I had forgotten. I liked the way you ended things on a positive note as well, since the material discussed in class can be upsetting, and can at times leave you feeling hopeless afterward. Thank you.”

RU07A2019: “Christine, thank you for coming in and sharing your story. It takes courage to be able to speak about and re-live those dark times from the past, however, in doing so you have inspired and shown us that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m also thankful that you spoke so candidly about racialization — I’m sure in doing this that you have educated at least one ignorant person — and as a black woman I am thankful for that especially. I, myself, was able to learn and educate myself from your lecture about matters in the LGBTQ communities that I was probably ignorant about, as well. Overall, I want to thank you for coming in, inspiring and educating — I hope you continue to move in this positive light to share your story and knowledge with many more students! Thank you!”

[I cannot speak for folks, but I can point out the inequities and amplify their voices constantly.]

The last slide, and my favourite story to share. Nat and I sharing a moment and reminding each other of our usual three words, “I’ve got you.” It fits with a vow we made some time ago, and we always end our conversations with it, “I’ll love you forever and a million days more.” We still share this photo when asked, for those working on the front lines, when they need a reminder that love still exists.

Imagine my delight when trudging through the snowstorm for a post-lecture lunch, when we were seated, my professor said, “I thought the lecture you gave last year was your best ever, but today, you set the bar even higher, everything about today was perfect!” I’d say from the feedback on the day of, and reading the few who sent something written, I got my *one* who got something important from the lecture. Next week I’ll be at Humber Lakeshore with a Police Foundations Program class.

Love, sunbeams, and kitten dreams.

Christine 💙💙