SHUBENACADIE: A new non-profit organization has been launched in the Shubenacadie region aimed at meeting a need for a community-based, not-for-profit resource too address multiple forms of trauma.

The After-Trauma Empowerment Network (ATEN) is a new community based non-profit organization that works to empower individuals, families and communities affected by trauma to live an empowered life to reach their fullest potential. ATEN is culturally and socially inclusive and is a Safe-Space and Ally for LGBTT2IQQ* individuals and other marginalized groups.  

ATEN was founded by Margaret Mauger and Vida Woodworth and began operating in January 2020 to meet a high need for a community-based, not-for-profit resource to address multiple forms of trauma (i.e., sexualized violence, psychological abuse, assault, domestic violence, human trafficking and exploitation, intergenerational trauma, combat, homicide, vicarious trauma, etc.).

“Trauma can have a profound impact on a person’s physical, psychological, emotional and social functioning and well-being whether the traumatic event(s) happened recently or many years ago,” said Mauger. “ATEN was created to meet the needs of those struggling with the negative impact or affects from experiencing or witnessing trauma.

“The need to have this resource established in our rural communities has recently been greatly amplified due to COVID-19 and the largest mass shooting in Canadian history happening in ATEN’s service catchment area (the “Corridor” including East Hants, Halifax Regional Municipality and Colchester).”

Mauger said that naturally, these devastating events have had a severe impact on individuals, families, and our communities.

“Trauma, both direct and vicarious, combined with profound grief is heavy in our communities,” she said. “Now more than ever individuals, families and communities need a safe, trauma-informed resource to address the individual trauma as well as the collective vicarious trauma experienced in these communities.”

To date, Mauger, a Registered Counselling Therapist, has been offering no-charge counselling services and support to individuals who have been affected by any form of trauma.

“No person should have to go without trauma treatment or mental health services due to financial barriers,” she said.

She also provides outreach counselling to schools and community organizations. There is a high need and demand for ATEN’s services and resources in this area, especially at this time.  

Mauger personally has over 14 years of professional experience working in the non-profit sector and sexualized violence field. She was the Executive Director and Trauma Counselling Therapist at the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre for more than nine years.

ATEN co-founder Vida Woodworth was Executive Director of the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre for 13 years followed by 10 years of working at the Nova Institute for Women.

“We both know first-hand the resources, services and supports that are needed to address the impact of trauma on individuals, families and communities,” said Mauger. “We also know first-hand about the prevalence of trauma, especially sexualized violence and domestic violence, in these communities.”

Over the years Mauger and Woodworth have had the honor and privilege of working with hundreds of individuals who have experienced sexualized violence, abuse, assault, domestic violence, human trafficking and exploitation, and transgenerational trauma. They have educated thousands of people on sexualized trauma and violence, the importance of trauma-informed practices, gender and sexuality, and healthy relationships.

Mauger was awarded the Dr. Burnley Allan “Rocky” Jones Human Rights Award in 2013 in recognition of her non-discriminatory work with all genders.  

Vida Woodworth and Kate Matthews have been volunteering their time and effort to help establish ATEN. Vida brings with her over 19 years of work experience at not-for-profit sexual assault centres and 10 years working in federal corrections. Kate is a neuroscience student focusing on mental illness and addiction who is also a youth advocate. They both have a wealth of valuable experience, knowledge, compassion, and commitment to working for those who have experienced trauma. 

“There are many people in this community who have experienced or witnessed trauma such as violence, a tragic accident, sexual assault/abuse, war/combat or homicide,” said Mauger. “Trauma (direct and vicarious) can have a profound impact on an individual’s overall health and well-being, especially mental health.

“Trauma symptoms are pervasive and can affect a person’s mental, emotional and physical functioning. Even long after the traumatic event occurs people with trauma can often feel shame, helplessness, powerlessness, and intense fear. Trauma also has a ripple effect and can negatively affect personal and family relationships.  

“Healing from trauma and living an empowered life is possible.”

ATEN’s office is located at 2830 Highway 2, Shubenacadie. Counselling is by appointment only and is available in-person, virtual or telephone. They can be reached by phone at 902-758-3967 or by email info@atenns.ca

More information can be found on our website www.atenns.ca

Mauger said they are currently working on a funding proposal to be able to offer peer support training to interested community members/organizations.

“This will allow them to offer a trauma peer support program in their community for people who have experienced trauma,” she said.

Anyone wishing to donate can contact ATENs by phone or email.