Britannia Elders – Realms of Refuge


Our workshop in October with the Seniors Healthy Choices program was one of our first with community groups at Britannia. Amid tea and cookies, we arrived with our markers and flip charts feeling a bit shy. But we were welcomed so graciously that we quickly felt at ease. The 10 participants had been coming for sixteen weeks to partake in activities ranging from foraging to cooking to gardening, all focused around food, nature, and land. The partnership of this workshop with the Realms of Refuge project was perfect. We were curious about how the elders had experienced refuge during their program, and we looked at four “realms”: Hereland, Lostland, Storyland, and Dreamland.


As you can see, our initial brainstorm was fruitful and pretty divergent! We collected all the information we could and enjoyed the enthusiastic participation of the group, who were soon calling out ideas. I will never forget Maria, the Italian mama of the group, stating emphatically “cuesta terra e la terra di latte e miele!” (this land is the land of milk and honey!)

Soon we’d filled the page and we began looking at what was there, identifying themes and pulling out what seemed to be essential. Ronnie created a word cloud to help us see visually what ideas had been used the most. We played with how these words arrived in our bodies and what gestures might accompany these words. And finally with Ronnie’s guidance we arrived at the following statement that seemed to speak to the central value of the group:


Everyone signed off on it, feeling incredibly proud of the piece of wisdom that had been distilled from their knowledge, understandings, and perceptions. It was a real honour to witness this group of people make a strong statement about what was important to them, who they are, and what role they play in the Britannia community.

If only we would listen to our elders more often, we’d all be a lot wiser too!



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