Indigenous Perspectives Society

Category Archives: Blog

Participant Profile – Beryl Park, Aboriginal Social Work

Berly for webI am the Executive Director for the Heiltsuk Kaxla Society and we are a level C3 Delegated Child Welfare Agency. My mother is Haida and my father is Irish-English, and I grew up for my first ten years in Haida Gwaii and then my family moved to live in the city. My Haida name translated to English means always doing something, it was my great-aunts name. I went back home as an adult and spent 6 years there helping set up our own child protection agency.

I was asked to come for a training refresher as I had been out of the country for three years, and needed update my knowledge and skills. I was unsure about the experience at first, but I am really enjoying the training and I think it is excellent. Indigenous Perspectives Society’s training is like a condensed university course, and I think it should be accredited. It is a great experience to be in the room with young workers and with others in the profession. Going through the coursework and through discussion, you can see things you already know from a new perspective and gain valuable insights.

I just love the work – When they asked me when I became a social worker it started for me as a young child in a rural community. I have always wanted to be a helper, some people know they are drummers or artists and I knew I wanted to help people. Directly helping families is where the best work is done.  When I was younger I wanted to be an administrator, but then I realized the most rewarding part of this work is being able to work directly and respectfully with people. The most important thing for working with a family is everyone understanding the family’s circumstances and respecting them. Creating a network of support is how to really help people, and brings everyone together.

This is my last job before retirement and I am hoping all my knowledge can be transferred over to young workers. Heltsiuk wants their own people to manage the organization, so I am training young people to take on management roles. When I go, the organization will have its own people leading.

It is important to have people in the community managing child welfare who know their own culture and the families. When you are from a community’s culture, you understand that a messy house does not mean that children are being neglected and need to be taken away, just that it is the way people in that community live. I have seen more success helping families by going in with deep respect and listening to what people have to say about what is going on in their own home. They know what is going on and can identify what is happening. I have only had three children not be able to go back to their homes and that is because their special needs made it impossible to manage without the supports of care, and even then we made sure structures are in place to ensure connection is maintained.

More information about Indigenous Perspectives Society’s Aboriginal Social Work program can be found at http://ipsociety.ca/delegated-agency-support-training/social-work/

Participant Profile – Graeme Bethell, Cultural Perspectives Training

GraemeI was encouraged to take Cultural Perspectives Training by a friend of mine but was a little reluctant at first. I caved and enjoyed a very fruitful day of learning and reconnecting to my core principles. I did not foresee that it would reconnect me to my own Maori Indigenous heritage to the degree that it has.

We all need to do our part in the healing process by recognizing the impact of the atrocities the Indigenous people of Canada have endured, first by the British and followed by the government of Canada, through legislation and confiscation of land and culture. The genocidal practices designed to destroy communities by forcing people onto reserves, separating children from their families and the subsequent emotional, physical and sexual abuse they experienced.

I believe our government needs to do the right thing and steps should be taken immediately to correct past transgressions both provincially and federally. The steps should address healing, caregiving, education, training, and economic development with supportive oversight and capacity development where it is needed.

Reconciliation means developing and delivering rightful restitution for all of the wrongs that have occurred to Indigenous people in Canada. It means restoring the natural resources, traditional lands and financial compensation for what was historically confiscated and taken away from them. This can only occur after recognizing and acknowledging the full effects of what transpired. Self-determination is central to recovery.

My taking action to support Reconciliation gave me a feeling of satisfaction and relief.  I have always had a community focus in my life but I had drifted off course somewhat and this training has refocused my efforts and given me voice. Since taking Cultural Perspectives Training I have been reaching out to work with First Nations communities and organizations to help where I can.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about participating in CPT?
Do it.  It can only benefit you.  It may even make you emotionally stronger.

What do you wish other people knew about Indigenous Perspectives Society?
I wish they knew this training is available to everyone.  It was a great day of learning.

Cultural Perspectives Training is 7 hours of in-class learning complimented by 8 hours of online learning completed over 4 weeks of study.

To register for the February 28, 2017 training session visit http://ipsociety.ca/cultural-competency-training/cptraining/

What I learned in Cultural Perspectives Training

LocationEven though I thought I already had a good understanding of our collective history from university studies, Indigenous friends, living and working with First Nations, life experiences and relationships, my knowledge was assembled in pieces over time. Sitting down for a full day of in-class focused study in Cultural Perspectives Training (CPT) to review our history of colonization really synthesized that knowledge, filled in some important gaps, and deepened my emotional connection the importance of acknowledging our past and the need for each one of us to take action to reconcile.

Here are 3 valuable perspectives that I (re)learned in CPT:

1.   The importance of cultural location. Where we come from builds the foundation of who we are and how we think. By locating ourselves in relationship to one another, we can have a better understanding of what we bring our relationships. In many Indigenous cultures, introductions include family and geography. This is important because it links us to our place in our natural ecology. For example, here is my introduction, “My name is Alesha Doran. My mother is Aleta Leopas and my father is David Hayes. My parents settled in Canada in 1974, coming from Northern California. My ancestors are primarily from Scotland, Sweden, England, and Estonia.” Being open and honest about how you arrived where you are, not only helps others in relationship to you, it reminds you of your own perspective in relationship to those around you.

2.   The insidious nature of institutionalized racism, specifically the Indian Act. In Cultural Perspectives Training we study how Canadian legislation classifies Indigenous people and the impacts of that classification in community and family cultures. We also look at how the Indian Act, while a tool of segregation, is an acknowledgement of traditional claim to territory. To have it removed without replacement agreements in place threatens to remove legal land rights. This unfortunate circumstance is why many Indigenous communities are opposed to having it revoked, even though its enforcement has caused so much harm.

3.   The social consequences of intergenerational trauma. Intergenerational trauma is not exclusively an Indigenous issue, it is a consequence of multiple generations of poverty that occur in every community to some degree. Poverty is not restricted to finance, it includes economic, cultural, emotional and educational scarcity that can lead to various types of abuse and neglect. Because of the extreme actions taken against Indigenous populations during the colonization of Canada, the consequences of that trauma still deeply effects individuals and communities. Respect, support and understanding are imperative to practice as these are wounds we all share.

Cultural Perspectives Training Certificate - Alesha Doran-1These are only three of many perspectives that unfold during the day of Cultural Perspectives Training, with learning deepening as ideas are reinforced through discussion and practice during the following 8 hours of online study distributed over 4 weeks. Understanding where we come from, and our role in Canada’s colonization history, gives each of us powerful self-awareness tools that enable us to be truly present to one another.

Indigenous Perspectives Society will be offering another session of Cultural Perspectives Training on February 28, 2017. To register visit http://ipsociety.ca/cultural-competency-training/cptraining/

About the Author

Alesha Doran is the Business Development Coordinator for the Indigenous Perspectives Society – Creating Excellence through Training and Leadership. A non-indigenous ally, Alesha was born and raised in Secwepemc territory and now enjoys life in beautiful Lkwungen territory on southern Vancouver Island. For more information on Cultural Perspectives Training email her at aleshad@ipsociety.ca and visit www.ipsociety.ca

Reconciliation and the Solutions Economics of Social Enterprise

Social InnovationRecently I spent the afternoon at a wonderful event at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, Stories of Indigenous Social Innovation, where four speakers shared what they are doing to address social issues with new approaches for persistent problems including homelessness, unemployment, affordable housing and violence against women and children. The high percentage of Indigenous people dealing with these social issues is a stark statement about the consequences of colonialism and institutionalized racism.

Ron Rice, President of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre Board of Directors, shared about the Siem Lelum project providing a new model of urban housing focusing on building community, http://www.vnfc.ca/siem-lelum-respected-house, and the success of the Eagle Project, an extraordinary employment project that has an incredibly high rate of sustained success in the lives of participants,  http://www.vnfc.ca/programs-services/eagle-project. The Eagle Project is an example of the kind of work that would succeed in building capacity in communities throughout British Columbia.

Don Elliot, the Executive Director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, spoke on the work they do and their partnership with the work of the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, http://aboriginalhomelessness.ca/, an organization that grew out of their work in the community when different possibilities for support were identified. The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness works helping reconnect dislocated people to their communities so they no longer suffer isolated and alone, and their community can help them find a home in the city or return to be supported in their home territory.

Shaun Loney, one of the founders of Aki Energy, http://www.akienergy.com/, talked about the extraordinary benefits of taking a social enterprise approach to business and social issues and his perspective and what he and his team have accomplished is powerfully inspiring. I highly recommend his book, An Army of Problem Solvers – Reconciliation and the Solutions Economy, http://www.armyofproblemsolvers.com/. I bought it and it is a book everyone needs to read.

Paul Lacerte, the founder of the Moose Hide Campaign – a grassroots movement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Men who are standing up against violence towards women and children, http://moosehidecampaign.ca, shared a compelling story of how he came into awareness of the absence of men present in this important discussion. He talked about his personal resolve to bring men into the conversation and stand up for loving and caring men. When he looked around the room saying “Where are the men in this discussion?” it was interesting to observe that the audience in the room at this event was also 90% women.

It is great to see what is possible when people are not afraid to use their imagination and entrepreneurial spirit to take on important work for community well-being and sustainability. Collectively we need to look at ways to encourage programs and projects that are proven to work, and support Indigenous solutions, especially Indigenous solutions for Indigenous issues. In many cases, the ingenuity and proactive work being done in Indigenous communities demonstrates the deep work that needs to be done in all of our communities to heal, learn, and embrace our true potential. If something is effective, let’s do more of it.

About the Author

Alesha Doran is the Business Development Coordinator for the Indigenous Perspectives Society – Creating Excellence through Training and Leadership. A non-indigenous ally, Alesha was born and raised in Secwepemc territory and now enjoys life in beautiful Lkwungen territory on southern Vancouver Island. For more information on Cultural Perspectives Training email her at aleshad@ipsociety.ca and visit www.ipsociety.ca

Creating Family – Why Foster Caregiving Matters

Foster CaregiversIf it weren’t for my foster sisters I may not have been born. My parents moved to Canada with my older brother in 1974 and by 1975, they had settled in Kamloops. There were a lot of young families in their neighbourhood, and my mom was home a lot with my then three year old brother. Like it often is when you have been dealing with diapers for a few years, another child was not on her mind.

Among the neighbourhood children were two indigenous twin girls who loved to come and play with the dolls my mother sewed intricate costumes for. A historical costumer in the making, she sewed dresses held up with tiers of lace trimmed petticoats, made elaborate hats, and she even sewed the dolls name on the pockets of their pantaloons. The 9 year old girls delighted in her creations and my mother, 22 at the time, loved to have tea parties and appreciated the company while she was home with my baby brother. A year later I was born, and I was always told that their sweetness was the inspiration for my existence.

We moved away and lost touch with the girls and their family. Several years later, my father was working in a group home housing youth in transition, it was a place teenagers were sent to stay if they were in between more long-term or permanent homes. One of the girls arrived, broken and sad. They had been in a car accident with their mother and she had been killed. My parents found the other girl, and they came to live with us until they finished their education and could make it on their own. Those years were not easy and my parents were young, with young children too. Taking care of those girls was not even a choice for us. It was simply what we knew we must do.

There are many families who gladly take on caring for their community and the children they come to know and love. Indigenous children and youth need foster caregivers to support their journeys until they return to their families, extended families or communities. There is an urgent need for foster caregivers to support some of the most diverse populations of children in care. You do not have to be Indigenous/Aboriginal to be a foster caregiver; however, First Nation, Metis, Inuit Status and Non-Status Aboriginal foster caregivers are needed across BC.

To help teach foster caregivers in British Columbia the skills needed to succeed and support them through their journey, Indigenous Perspectives Society is pleased to offer its new services for foster caregivers, Indigenous Caregivers of BC. If you are interested in becoming a foster caregiver, contact www.fostercaregiversbc.ca and learn about the training, support line, and resources available to help grow healthy families and loved children.

About the Author

Alesha Doran is the Business Development Coordinator for the Indigenous Perspectives Society – Creating Excellence through Training and Leadership. A non-indigenous ally, Alesha was born and raised in Secwepemc territory and now enjoys life in beautiful Lkwungen territory on southern Vancouver Island. For more information on Cultural Perspectives Training email her at aleshad@ipsociety.ca and visit www.ipsociety.ca