Indigenous Perspectives Society

Category Archives: Blog

Be the Spark – A Call for Social Innovation

LeadershipWe all have a sense of the enormity of our world’s challenges.

The news informs us each day of our social inequalities, our superfluous violence, and our rapidly changing climate. We see the problems in our immediate lives and we feel fearful of the future.

We know that each of us is complicit in this mess simply by participating in the world we are born into, and by following the paths we have been told to follow. The issues seem insurmountable and often we retreat into just working with what is, as best we can.

At some point we may awaken and see that we live in an interdependent world, sharing each others problems. And when we wake up, we feel a responsibility to help and are faced with so many choices.

This is where I think the perspective of social innovation can help to guide our actions.

The Stanford Business School’s Centre for Social Innovation describes the concept as, “A social innovation is a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just – than current solutions. The value created accrues primarily to society rather than to private individuals.”

Looking at our endeavours through the lens of social innovation guides us to create social value through our ideas, solutions and processes in addition to benefits for individuals and organizations.

Social Innovation does not have to be a big change. In the continual process of refining and building our organizations, it is often the small adjustments that have the most significant impact. Reviewing your organizations’ activities with a social innovation perspective may reveal a subtle shift that can be transformative.

Here are some actions that can help start the social innovation shift in your organization:

  1. Set conditions by building common intent.
  2. Structure the issue or design question with data from collective sensing, research, and results.
  3. Generate ideas with proposals and idea generation sessions, giving space for new ideas to emerge from the process.
  4. Test ideas with prototypes, experiments, workshops, and pilot programs.
  5. Implement ideas inside a sustainable context with room for them to evolve and be adjusted to keep serving the intention of the established common intent.
  6. Share the social innovation with related nonprofit, public, and private sectors to contribute to a replicable model that can transform systems and be of service to a wider community.

Social Innovation relies on the exchange of ideas and values, shifts in roles and relationships, and integrating private capital with public and philanthropic support. To truly understand and solve our challenges the nonprofit, public, and private sectors must work together with our collective good as the outcome.

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 Lkwungen territory on southern Vancouver Island. For more information on Cultural Perspectives Training email her at and visit

Cultural Humility – What does it mean?

Cultural HumilityIn a world that celebrates knowledge and expertise, we invest a lot of time and money in learning to increase our sense of knowing. Knowledge is powerful. We are told that when we go into a situation we need to know how to handle it, how to keep control, how to do the right thing, how to be safe. Knowledge protects us from our fear.

As a child, when I began to raise my head from playing with my toys and started to observe the world outside of my immediate familial relationships, which were themselves fractured and unreliable, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to create what I was seeing. The world of social division, war, consumerism, and environmental destruction I was witnessing was a stark contrast to how I felt about those I loved and the beauty I saw, as imperfect as it was. Acquiring knowledge was the only way to make sense of any of it.

When I went to university I was on a quest. I wanted to find out how the world works, how it ended up the way it is and why. I studied anthropology, history, geography, sociology, philosophy, and political science in an attempt to piece together how we all ended up here behaving the way we do. I learned a lot. I learned so much that the year following completing my degree I was part know-it-all and part completely disillusioned. I remember a friend saying to me, “You think you know, but you don’t.” I disconnected for a while, not knowing how to best be of service.

Emerging from healthcare and social work interactions is a concept of Cultural Humility. It is a view that encourages people to cultivate self-awareness and realize their own places of power, privilege and prejudice. By reflecting on what has shaped our views, and what may have impacted the views of others, we can cultivate compassion and meet each person with our cups empty, to be filled with the information they share about who they are. We are only experts on our own experience. Sometimes the best education teaches us how much we don’t know, how much we can’t know, and with that knowledge we learn to be fully present.

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 Lkwungen territory on southern Vancouver Island. For more information on Cultural Perspectives Training email her at and visit

What if everything that was yours was taken from you?

orange shirt day

When I first heard of residential schools I thought they were like the boarding schools I had seen in movies, television shows, or had read about in books. I imagined that children went to these schools because their parents were not able to care for them while they worked long hours, or dreamed of offering them a better future. I imagined that some of these children came from single parent families, or were orphans, and that maybe being at a boarding school was safer than making their way on their own in the world. These beliefs were reinforced by friends I made growing up, whose experiences were not unlike what I had imagined, although, even their stories often had dark elements that were heartbreaking to hear.

I didn’t truly understand the differences of the residential school experience until love brought me into a family that had survived it. As we got to know each other during family dinners, holiday gatherings and coffee chats in the kitchen, stories were shared as a way for us to understand each other, to appreciate where we were on our paths, and feel pride over the obstacles we had overcome. My husband’s mother, her sister, and brothers had attended residential school along with many of their extended family. Fashionable and cool kids, the impact of having to wear uniforms that homogenized their identity left its imprint on their sense of self-worth. I was shocked to hear that the uniforms they were issued were not even theirs. On laundry day all the clothes were washed and then redistributed. You were lucky to get something that fit properly. Nothing was yours, not even your underwear.

I attended a catholic school from grade three through grade seven and I had to wear a uniform. My mom thought it was a great idea because we didn’t have much money and it saved her from having to buy very many clothes. I remember defiantly wearing red shoes and stacking Mexican silver bracelets my grandmother had sent me on my arms. I had that freedom.

Orange Shirt DayWhile I am not part of that family anymore, each one of them still lives in my heart, and I am forever changed in my understanding of what is means to be Canadian and the impact of how we arrived here.

Orange Shirt Day gives us the opportunity to learn about the legacy of our collective history and continue the discussion of what each of us needs to do to help reconciliation as we build our future together.

The Orange Shirt Day – Every Child Matters campaign grew out of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at St. Joseph Mission residential school, you can read more about her story here

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 Lkwungen territory on southern Vancouver Island. For more information on Cultural Perspectives Training email her at and visit

posted in Blog

The importance of story-telling

IPS has had the pleasure of working with two co-op students for the past 4 months. There has been a lot of shared learning and we are pleased to post some words from Heather Jenkins, one of our students about her experiences here at the Society.

By Heather Jenkins

It’s been said that there are stories everywhere; we just have to hear them. I’ve found that surprisingly true. Often when you really listen, the everyday stories people tell are really interesting, complex tales of human nature and relationships. Most blockbuster documentaries like 20 Feet from Stardom and Hoop Dreams are simple stories of ordinary people leading lives just like ours, even though their stakes seem so much larger. But they aren’t, not really.

There are stories everywhere here at the Indigenous Perspectives Society too; sometimes it’s Elders or community leaders or even my coworkers. My time here has been an amazing opportunity to hear and share the stories of those who wish to tell them. As part of the media team I have filmed and edited several interviews, all where exceptional. But there have been a few stories that resonated with me, hopefully well into the future.

During one of my first interviews a mother told me about her adopted child. One day this child proudly declared themselves to be the luckiest child in the world: Why? They had both a ‘tummy mummy’ and an adopted mom, they knew they were loved and cherished by both, so they knew also that their love had grown during adoption. They knew that for them love would never shrunk, only grow.

During another interview I learned how a man came to realize that violence would destroy his life. So he began the quest of his lifetime, aiding others so that they could also see that violence was destroying their lives. During this journey the man collected several degrees and a lifetime of colourful stories.

As a writer, filmmaker, anthropologist, student, and human being, I firmly believe that listening is a skill which we are never done mastering. There is always more to learn and further to grow. This belief compels me in my desire is to share stories with as many as possible, to use my knowledge and skills to let storytellers reach a wider audience so that others can continue to grow and learn as I hope to do. It is my wish that working with the society will help me become the storyteller I want to be.

It’s an honour to hear everyone’s story, and it’s an honour to use my filmmaking skills to share these stories with a larger audience.

A Participants Perspective of Adoption Online

Since 2008 Indigenous Perspectives Society has trained over 390 participants in the Adoption Online Course, also known as AOL. This is a an 8 week program delivered online, requiring 3-5 hours of work per week.

One of the participants, Ali Jayne, wrote a review on her blog to share with everyone her firsthand experience of the course, and her thoughts are well worth a read:

“This course run by the Indigenous Perspectives Society is one I have recommended again and again to families who are either thinking about adoption or have adopted. And yet, I realised I have never posted a review about it…” To read the rest of her review check out the full post here:

If you would like to know more about the AOL program see our course page for more information and registration.