Fostering Unity

Aug 2, 2017—Kelowna, BC: Recently, IndigenEYEZ hosted a module of Leadership Essentials with the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

The focus was “Connecting to Team” and themes included: fostering unity, strengthening trust and safety in groups, decolonizing how we are together, and IndigenEYEZing our organizational cultures.


Tools were presented to help improve communication, deepen listening, expand creativity, and increase imaginative capacity. Following are three main topics that were covered.


1.    Etuaptmumk – Two-Eyed Seeing

With two-eyed seeing, one eye focuses on the strengths of our Indigenous perspective, and the other eye focuses on the strengths of the Western perspective. Two-eyed seeing combines both perspectives for the benefit of all.


2.    Lateral Violence

We can see lateral violence at the First Nation community level. It is a “cloud” that has loomed over us for years. Lateral violence has become a destructive way of life for families and communities. What is lateral violence? Lee Maracle explains it like this: “Lateral violence among Native people is about our anti-colonial rage working itself out in an expression of hate for one another.”(from “I Am Woman”)


3.    Cultural Safety


Cultural Safety is fostering an environment that is spiritually, socially and emotionally safe, as well as physically safe for people.

In an environment of cultural safety there is no assault, challenge, or denial of a person’s identity, of who they are and what they need.

A few tips for fostering cultural safety include:

> Demonstrate reciprocity – recognize that learning goes both ways
> Introduce yourself in terms of your cultural identities
> Engage in collaborative problem solving vs. being the expert or authority
> Ensure equity and dignity for all parties
> Talk less, listen more




Want to improve dynamics among staff members? Develop better relations with partners? Energize your youth workers? To schedule one or all six of our Leadership Essentials training modules for your organization, email

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I have used the skills many times over in my current job and would recommend anyone to take the workshops. The most significant thing I learned was how to lead a group and make it look like I know what I’m doing! It comes naturally now. It has certainly helped in my job.


Youth Care Worker

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