Yellow chair, community room, Untold Stories Studio, Pinawa, MB.


Recently, I've been involved in several conversations about what it means to hold safe space.

These conversations come up whenever I tell someone that I provide a safe space for people to explore their stories so they can arrive at better mental and emotional well-being. The first question I am usually asked is: ‘What do I mean by space?’; the follow-up is almost always, ‘So how exactly does one ‘hold space’?’

These are the easy questions. I often quickly answer both by saying that the space is symbolic and physical. It is one where everyone feels welcomed and able to explore their lived experience stories as if they were always part of this accepting and supportive community, whether we assemble online or in person.

A few days ago, though, when a friend asked why the space was safe and not brave, I took a long pause before answering. ‘Brave space’ refers to spaces designed to cultivate growth, often around challenging topics. In contrast, ‘safe space’ is typically used to refer to areas that are meant to be free from threatening or conflictual conversations and ideas. I thought hard about this for a while.

Sometime later, I answered: “One is just a doorway to the other. To get to safety, one must also be brave; to be brave, one must know that safety exists in some form.” This isn’t the kind of bravado that says we can do and be everything or hold it all together when we feel we are being marginalized or attacked in some way, and it isn’t safety that says we should never be pushed out of our comfort zones.

No. The brave I am talking about is taking the first step. It is about walking through a doorway, committing to seeing a better outcome for oneself and others and being willing to look at the range of conflicts that already exist within ourselves. It is being brave enough to sit with ourselves and others to find the safety we all crave. And the safe I am referring to is the feeling of being supported, understood, stood with, seen, and heard. It is precisely what happens when we take brave steps with the right kind of community by our side.

On May 7, 2023, I opened the doors to my own safe and brave space. Reyou's first physical space is at the W.B. Lewis Business Centre in Pinawa, Manitoba. Pinawa is located in Treaty 3 Territory, about one hour from the Winnipeg perimeter.

After months of offering online-only learning and practice sessions, I am ready to show what I mean by cultivating a felt space where 'brave' and 'safe' can coexist. This is a space where uncomfortableness, questioning, dialogue, exploration, and idea exchanges will sit beside and within an area free from discrimination, criticism, judgment, and harassment.

In other words, I am committing to bring to my in-person studio what I've been doing in our online community all along. And we will prove that on Sunday, May 8, when we host our first in-person retreat!

I look forward to seeing you soon in the Reyou Studio in Pinawa!

Back to blog

Leave a comment