HOW TO ENGAGE AND EMPOWER

I am not Aboriginal, but I work with Aboriginal youth and families everyday in my programs. Not sure of the right way to ask so I’ll just go for it: I’ve taken an “Aboriginal Training” or two at work over the years, but honestly I am still totally confused about how to truly empower and engage Aboriginal clients “beyond their cultural realms” - as you have often said. Frankly, what can a city-raised white girl like me really do? - Tanya F.

The only time in my life where I left an entire roomful speechless happened years ago—right after an “Aboriginal Training”. I said, “What I really need is some White Training, 'cause they confuse the heck outta me!" (one of those little jokes that’s apparently only funny when you are Native and have a thousand Natives standing behind you)

To be honest though - as misguided as that may sound - there is an ounce of truth to it. Especially when you consider the difficult circumstances that I (and many other Native people) have grown up around and basically just had to deal with—both on the rez and in the city.

Instead of the whole tear-soaked history lesson, just keep this in mind - everyone feels their burden is the heaviest - including (especially?) Native people. How do you ease your burdens in life - when you are always surrounded by them? You seek empowerment. What breeds empowerment? Trust, Humor, Awareness, Sincerity, Respect, Shared Knowledge etc.

The great thing about these powerful tools is that they are all absolutely free. Time and Effort can go a lot further than money ever will. Make the “FOUR—C’s” your new best friends— AKA Collaboration, Communication, Cooperation & Coordination— and soon all those Natives will be like ... “HOLEE! This city-raised white girl is really down for us!"