Culture Blog

Foot in Both Worlds

Foot in Both Worlds

May 29, 2023
Category: General 

Hadih! My name is Olamipo Bandele, I am the digital writer for CSFS.

When I was hired to work for CSFS in September 2022, I understood that there was a lot of unlearning and relearning that I needed to best serve the organization’s strategic goals. As part of my onboarding process, new staff are required to take the Nowh Guna’ (Our Way) Carrier Agility Training to increase cultural competency within the workforce.

 

Who can take the training? 

The Nowh Guna' training can be taken by anyone but is specifically designed for external service providers who work with Indigenous populations – to ensure they acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes to provide culturally responsive care or services.

As a new immigrant from Nigeria, it can be easy to get swayed by the stereotypes the media perpetuates of Indigenous people and cultures. Most of these stereotypes are usually based on assumptions that neglects the trauma, history, and beliefs of Indigenous people.

 

My experience 

I went into the training with an open mind and an enthusiasm to learn, and I was not disappointed by the outcome of my experience.

The Carrier agility training explored various topics such as preserving Carrier language, the Carrier life cycle model, and strategies for external stakeholders to build trust with Carrier people. The Nowh Guna' facilitators actively engaged us by using real world and personal experiences to enhance our learning experience.

The exercises we undertook consisted of reading historical accounts and scripts around the forced assimilation of Indigenous populations into Euro-Canadian society. Some of the accounts were jarring and cruel due to the nature of colonization, while others were filled with hope and retribution for the future—which is instrumental for Truth and Reconciliation efforts. For example, we read a Carrier chief describing first his encounters with Europeans; and accounts from Bridget Moran, who advocated for Indigenous social rights during the 60s Scoop.

 

Residential School System – An eye opener 

Carrier people have a deep connection to the land, the natural world, and ancestors which are closely tied to tradition

The Indian act passed in 1876 was a flawed piece of legislation that led to a ripple effect which created the residential school system, imposed restrictions on Indigenous rights and freedom, and perpetuated cultural genocide. It has had a profound impact on the lives and rights of Indigenous peoples.

A significant number of children died while attending residential schools due to various factors, including disease outbreaks, malnutrition, and neglect. Many children were buried in unmarked graves, and the discovery of these unmarked burial sites in recent years has exposed the scale of the tragedy.

The trauma experienced in residential schools had far-reaching effects on survivors and subsequent generations. Many survivors have struggled with addiction, mental health issues, and challenges in parenting and family dynamics due to the intergenerational transmission of trauma.

The Indian Residential School system has been widely recognized as a grave violation of human rights, but many Indigenous communities are working to revitalize and strengthen their traditional governance systems as part of efforts towards reconciliation and self-determination.

 

To conclude…

Having my feet in both worlds has provided me with new perspectives on cultural sensitivity, but most importantly, I now feel better equipped to serve CSFS with its goals of supporting nation rebuilding and restoring Indigenous self-determination. I took the training virtually through Zoom, and it did not detract from the experience. The good news is that the training will be held in person this fall, so be on the watch out for that.

For information on upcoming Nowh Guna' training dates, visit our trainings page.