Indigenous Perspectives Society

IN Perspective

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 Hayes 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 aleshah@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

Have A Culturally Respectful Halloween

I am not a costumeI have worn an indigenous costume. It wasn’t for Halloween, it was for a summer festival and I wore it to be playful about my believed American Indian ancestry, although it really didn’t even come close to a beautiful real buckskin dress. When I put on that costume, I was completely unprepared for the comments it, and I received. And no, they were not about cultural appropriation, they were remarks containing Disneyified hyper-sexualized stereotypes of indigenous women. My costume selection unintentionally perpetuated harmful beliefs.

Growing up, my family thought that my great-grandfather, my father’s mother’s father, was an American Indian from the Phoenix, Arizona area. In the United States of America, indigenous groups were often moved great distances from their traditional territories and told to live on reservations with other unrelated groups. Phoenix is a very culturally diverse area. Both my grandmother and my aunt spent time in Phoenix looking for traces of our family’s roots and with 20 different reservations I imagine this was a challenging task.

In their journey, my aunt and grandmother found out that most of the family records from the time of my great-grandfather had been burned, as fire was a common danger in those old buildings. They were not successful in discovering anything about my great-grandfather’s roots. This happened to families in Canada too.

Keeping in mind the continued oppressive nature of colonization, a people’s traditional dress is not a costume for a party or for Halloween, but rather it is symbolic of a cultural lineage that is still alive and evolving. Cultures are not caricatures or cartoons.

So this Halloween ask yourself these questions to make sure you costume is culturally appropriate:

  • Is what you are planning to wear based on a race, culture, ethnicity, or social group?
  • What is your intention for the outfit?
  • What message might you be sending and at whose expense?
  • Why is your costume funny or sexy?
  • Would you wear your costume around that group of people?

Think about why you are making these choices and remember that sometimes what makes a costume sexy is that marginalized people are often hyper-sexualized, and that sometimes what makes a costume funny is the fact it is a white individual wearing another ethnicity or race. This is racist behaviour.  As former Indigenous Perspectives Society staff member Alicia BigCanoe says in her I Am Not A Costume campaign, “Let’s get creative, not oppressive.”

For more information on how to have a culturally safe Halloween and the I Am Not A Costume campaign visit www.lspirg.org/costumes.

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

Cultural Perspective And How To Get It

Cultural PerspectivesTo understand another we first have to understand ourselves, and to do that we need to reflect on our history.

Cultural Perspective can be defined as:

“Cultural perspective refers to the way that individuals are shaped by their environments as well as social and cultural factors. Such factors include a person’s nationality, race and gender.” Reference.com

Each of us comes with a unique story that shapes who we are and how we see the world. Where we grew up, the size and makeup of our families, our ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and our educational background all contribute to our world view. Two people who grew up next door to each other can have radically different cultural experiences and points of view. Biological siblings raised together have different cultural perspectives from having different gender identities, and being interested in different things.

Self-awareness about the origins of our beliefs gives us the understanding to appreciate the origins of the beliefs of others. We learn to receive people as part of a story that has brought them to where they are today and what their future potential might be, rather than a predetermined set of assumptions based on stereotypes from external cues.

Three steps you can take to cultivate cultural perspective are:

  • Participate in professional development training that can fill in the gaps of your knowledge and understanding.
  • Be open-minded and in relationship to the people around you for who they are and not just what you may want or need from them.
  • Study yourself and how you react in different situations. Take note of how you are when you are succeeding in your relationships and cultivate those ways of being.

Cultivating cultural perspective is an important step in developing intelligent and agile social skills that create value in our organizations. Workplaces rely on our ability to forge strong relationships, both internally and externally, to foster collaborative creativity, attract talent, retain clients and grow support.

About the Author

Alesha Hayes 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 aleshah@ipsociety.ca and visit www.ipsociety.ca

Creating Opportunities For Reconciliation

 

A new group of participants take the journey through Indigenous Perspectives Society’s Cultural Perspectives Training today to learn about the legacy of colonization, residential schools, and effects of inter-generational trauma, privilege, and racism.

Out of the learning and discussion in the IPS training seminars developed out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, training participants will be creating Calls to Action response plans to turn their ideas into meaningful actions in their organizations.

“It is powerful to see a dialogue about the legacy of colonization and residential schools in the media as the stories of Chanie Wenjack (Secret Path) and Phyllis (Jack) Webstad (Orange Shirt Day) have brought into awareness the need for education and healing in our country,” said Linda Lucas, Indigenous Perspective Society’s Executive Director. “I think we are at a place now where everyone understands the value in strengthening our collaborative relationships. We have many challenges to overcome because it takes time to heal generations of people, which is why we must do it together with a shared common intention.”

To support working professionals, Indigenous Perspectives Society’s Cultural Perspectives Training (CPT) offers a blended learning model that balances in-class sharing, learning, and collaboration with self-guided online resources, research and off-site action-taking. CPT consists of 7 hours of in-person training and 8 hours of online training. CPT is offered either at our in-house training centre, or IPS can come into your organization for a private training for your staff.

A non-profit society with a mission to strengthen the lives of indigenous people, the Indigenous Perspectives Society (IPS) has built its expertise in education and social work with two decades of service supporting the health of indigenous children and families. IPS currently has a 3 year CARF accreditation for delivery of the Aboriginal Social Work Training Program. IPS provides training, research, and policy support to Delegated Aboriginal Agencies and both the Provincial and Federal Governments.

In 2015, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released 94 Calls to Action whereby Government, organizations, and individuals can act to “redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation” (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015).

To learn more about Indigenous Perspectives Society visit https://ipsociety.ca/

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Media Contacts:
Linda Lucas, Executive Director, 250 391 0007
Alesha Doran, Business Development Coordinator, 250 857 4962