The Least We Can Do reveals how Canada’s response to the Yazidi genocide fell short of its promise, prompting a small group of women to take action.
There are three main themes in the film that may be of interest to educators: the journey of the petition, the need of female victims of torture, rape and slavery for comprehensive trauma care, and the Yazidi genocide.
We believe that the lessons learned here can apply to other oppressed and traumatized people.
The Canadian government must keep its promise to female victims of ISIS
• What further steps did the WRAP group take to bolster the petition?
• What are some possible reasons for why the petition failed?
The German psychologist Dr. Jan Kizilhan worked with other experts to develop an in-depth comprehensive trauma care for Yazidi survivors. This unique, specialized approach to Yazidi survivor trauma care was implemented in Germany and found to be exceptionally effective.
• What are some of the ways in which Canada failed to provide effective care for the Yazidi survivors?
• What stopped Canada from providing appropriate post traumatic stress care?
• In the film, we learn of the grievous mistreatment of a Yazidi survivor seeking help from a Canadian hospital emergency ward. What changes could be made to emergency room policy and procedures to prevent this kind of unnecessary suffering of victims of war/victims of genocide?
• What recommendations for change does Rev. Majed El Shafie make? See footnote below.
• What do you consider to be some of the most effective attributes of the German model of care for Yazidi survivors?
See Trauma Care
The Yazidi are an Indigenous people and religious minority in Northern Iraq/ Kurdistan. Their homeland is Sinjar.
• Had you heard of the Yazidi people or the Yazidi religion before the 2014 ISIS genocide against them?
• If yes, please describe how?
• If not, what are the possible reasons why the Yazidi have not been visible to the rest of the world?
• Indigenous peoples around the world have been subjected to genocide. What are some of the possible connections between them and the Yazidi?
• What forms of violence against women and girls are perpetrated in this and other genocides?
e.g. rape, gang rape, slavery, forced to have babies they don’t want, forced to give up babies they do want, and more.
• What are some of the justifications for violence against women made by the ISIS perpetrators? Why do you think violence against women is perpetrated by a group like ISIS?
e.g. Do we take the word of rapists and murderers? Or, can we define the perpetrators’ motivations for ourselves, such as misogyny, racism and religious supremacy?
• Sometimes Yazidi women are not welcomed back into their own community when they are freed from ISIS slavery. Why do you think this would be?
• Canada brought 1,200 survivors of ISIS to Canada as refugees in 2017 and has recently, in 2021, offered to aid the Yazidi who are here in sponsoring another 250 family members. Do you think Canada has a further humanitarian role to play on the world stage?
See Media Room
Please take action
A humanitarian crisis is taking place in Iraq right now as the Yazidi people have been pressured to leave the refugee camps they fled to in Northern Iraq and return to their homeland of Sinjar; a land destroyed by ISIS.
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Footnote on trauma care
In The Least We Can Do, Adiba and Rev. Majed El Shafie discuss the night Adiba suffered a severe post-traumatic stress ‘meltdown’ and was taken to an Ontario emergency room by her family. She experienced horrifying mistreatment while she was there.
What recommendations for change to emergency room procedures do Adiba and Rev. Majed El Shafie make?
- Translation is crucial. Care has to be provided to the Yazidi survivors of the ISIS genocide in Kurmanji, their native language.
- Adiba on female care givers:
“If we speak to female doctors it is much better for us than male, we feel more comfortable with a female.”
- Later, Majed El Shafie suggested:
‘What survivors of ISIS have suffered is a different category of harm. We are talking sex slavery. It is a different degree of torture and it has been carried out by men. The Yazidi women and girl survivors must have a female care provider that is able to talk to them. They are not open to receiving help from a man.’
- Majed El Shafie on de-escalation and the importance of the family:
“First of all, try to get the family more involved. The family was a key factor in calming her down. When she was with the family, she was crying, she had the meltdown, but wasn’t violent yet. The minute that they took the family from her that’s when she started to hurt herself. That’s the indication that they are key people. You need to de-escalate the situation, not escalate it. Calm the situation down until you find a translator, and find the hospital personnel they need to communicate with.’
- Majed El Shafie on victims of war:
“When we are dealing with war victims it should be a completely different system, we have to start to realize this.”