Allan Wade (CA)

Catherine Richardson/Kinewesquao (CA)

Linda Coates (CA)

Shelly Bonnah (CA)


Dignity is an inherent 'right' of the person in human rights law and a constant concern in daily life.  Normally we are careful to uphold the dignity of others as they uphold ours, with small acts that achieve safety and inclusion.  Even minor affronts to dignity, such as unwanted advice, can be highly offensive.  Violence is an attack on the dignity of the person and tends to induce a profound sense of humiliation, especially when combined with negative institutional responses.  This is expressed in myriad forms of distress/indignation that can be confused with ‘negative effects’ and mental illness.  Consequently, it is important to uphold the dignity of the person at all times, in all settings.  This means acknowledging the many ways in which individuals and groups resist violence, protect their loved ones, and work for safety and justice.  It also means treating people who choose to commit violence as competent and already capable of acting respectfully.  In response-based practice, dignity is both method and outcome.

Allan Wade, Ph.D. lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, where he works as a family therapist, consultant, and independent scholar with a primary interest addressing violence, broadly defined.  

Allan is best known for developing Response-Based Practice, initially with Linda Coates and Nick Todd and, more recently, Cathy Richardson, Ann Maje Raider, and Shelly Bonnah.   Allan works extensively for Indigenous communities in Canada, with ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ of violence, conducts original research on the connection between violence and language, and consults internationally to the diverse organizations that become involved in cases of violence.  

Dr. Catherine Richardson/Kinewesquao is a therapist, researcher, activist and an author.  She is the Director of First Peoples Studies at Concordia University in Montreal and a co-founder of the Centre for Response-Based Practice. Cathy is Métis with Cree, Dene and Gwichin ancestry. She teaches counsellors and social workers and promotes system change and decolonization in all areas of social services.

Cathy is a lead researcher for a number of current studies, such as the Quebec Youth Network Chair, the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevent Initiative with Vulnerable Populations; and documenting promising practices for Indigenous transition housework (FRIDAA).  Cathy is the winner of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association Indigenous Practice Award in 2019 and she is a co-organizer of the Dignity conferences.  She is currently working on three books which should be available in 2020.  Cathy was a Green Party candidate in the Quebec provincial election in 2018.

Linda has received international acclaim from researchers, legal and mental health professionals, and victims’ advocates for her work on the connection between violence and language in diverse settings.

She has worked closely with Allan Wade and Nick Todd in developing the Response-Based approach to community work and therapy with victims and perpetrators and is Associate Professor of Psychology at Okanagan College. Linda has published numerous articles and book chapters on the connection between violence and language.

Shelly’s experience includes over 20 years of direct counselling experience with children, youth, couples and families, consulting with a wide range of organizations, teaching in universities, clinical supervision and organizational development in the social service sector. Shelly has also worked with the Centre for Response-Based Practice and her colleagues Allan Wade, Linda Coates & Cathy Richardson for approximately 10 years. She is currently operating a Response-Based counselling office in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

Shelly has been actively involved in the ongoing development of working with children and youth from a Response-Based perspective, and understanding how young people respond to, and resist experiences of violence and trauma. She also works to apply these ideas within organizational settings and leadership positions, where power and accountability are at issue. Shelly is a licensed Family Therapist, an author, and a graduate of the Doctoral Program at the TAOS Institute.

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