Jane Ely, D. Min.: I am an indigenous person, the daughter of a World War II veteran who served in the Canadian Navy on Corvette boats and in the North Sea on submarine reconnaissance missions. My father returned to our family with severe combat stress as well as physical injuries. In those days, there was no tribal council to welcome him home with a healing ceremony—they were all overseas or were dead. Instead my father endured electric shock treatments prescribed by the military never recovering from the trauma of war nor his soul loss, eventually abandoning himself and our family.
My step-father was in the Danish Resistance during World War II; I grew up hearing his war stories, both witnessing and experiencing the devastating toll and emotional residue of unhealed moral wounding. This resulted in my family navigating around his severe mood swings and often abusive behavior. It left him deeply alone and isolated most of his life. At an early age I experienced soul wounding although no one in my family could talk about it. I married a Vietnam Veteran with post-traumatic stress. My husband survived two tours of heavy combat duty.
I recognize the generational wounds that many of us carry. These wounds need to be honored, to be folded into our lives, not separated and not compartmentalized. All my life, I have sought ways and means to heal the dissonance of living in two separate cultures informed heavily by war.
Through the years I studied psychology and became a healer under the mentorship of my Mi’kmaq grandfather and Tsa-li-gi [Cherokee] grandmother. They provided me with a spiritual ground upon which I could stand, ceremonies to help heal the soul and remember the disparate wounded aspects of myself, restoring me to wholeness, with reconciliation and acceptance. In the process of my personal healing I was able to interweave the academic aspects of cognitive therapy with my indigenous background and training. My dissertation, Doctor of Ministry, became a book on soul loss and recovery from an indigenous perspective. My second book, Coming into Balance, is meant to provide people with skills and tools for self-reflection and personal healing. It is a culmination of 30 years of life and work in the healing field.