Advocating for Indigenous Genius, Indigeneity and Wellbeing

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Canadian Programs designed to assist Aboriginal people who are caught in the cycle of violence.

The In Search of Your Warrior program (men), Spirit of A Warrior Program (women) and the TAPWE Youth Warrior Program (youth) were designed by Native Counselling Services of Alberta, to assist Aboriginal people who are caught in the cycle of violence. The Warrior programs usually requires 30 days to complete, based upon a six-hour program day. The programs are founded on the basic principles of Natural Law (caring, kindness, respect, love and self-determination), which are learned through ceremony and ritual. The Warrior Program is delivered by two trained facilitators, under the guidance and with the participation of an Elder; the typical group size is 10 – 14 participants.

The program has three primary goals:

To assist Aboriginal people to better understand their personal intergenerational cycle of violent behaviour. This includes: defining family violence; identifying the roots of their violent behaviour; considering the family/community context within which violence occurs; addressing feelings of vulnerability related to their experiences of victimization; and distinguishing between anger and rage.

To build knowledge and skills that will reduce and eventually eliminate violent behaviour in program participants.

To facilitate the participants’ connection and commitment to their life-long healing journey.

Program Process

The ISOYW program is founded in holistic Aboriginal philosophy: the belief that all things are connected and that for sustainable change to occur, an individual must engage the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of self in the changing/learning/healing process. The program process includes activities and sessions that provide opportunities for such holistic learning. The process also includes daily ritual, frequent ceremony (chosen and led by the Elder), and sessions that encourage participants to explore core issues that underlie violent behaviour, such as their childhood experiences of violence, grief and loss, shame, trauma, childhood neglect and abandonment, as well as triggers for violent behaviour. Further, the participants learn about the intergenerational effects of colonization on the Aboriginal individual, family and community. In this process, the participant identifies his own cycle of violence and then can develop skills that will enable him to live a non-violent lifestyle.

The Warrior Programs employ a highly kinaesthetic and experiential learning process.

The Warrior Program sessions employ the rules and process of the sharing circle.

Warrior Facilitators

The men and women who facilitate Warrior program are highly skilled guides, role models and facilitators. Facilitators of the ISOYW program therefore require many important skills and characteristics:

· an in-depth, first-hand understanding of the healing process;
· knowledge of where they are on their own healing path;
· the capacity to take care of themselves emotionally and spiritually throughout the program; and
· the ability to motivate participants to engage in their healing journey.

Native Counselling Services of Alberta retains full responsibility for the Warrior programs; to this end we provide certification for people who have completed the program (Participant Certification), for those who successfully complete the facilitators training (Facilitator Certification) and for those who are responsible for the training of facilitators (Trainer Certification).

NCSA can provide the following services for communities and organizations:

Program Facilitation
NCSA can send facilitators to an organization or community to provide the Warrior programs. We work with the organization to recruit appropriate program participants, choose program location, ensure all necessary program resources are available, prepare community Elders to be a part of the program and provide the Certification of Program Completion for participants who successfully complete.

Facilitator Training

NCSA can help communities and organizations build capacity to facilitate the Warrior programs regularly for their membership or clientele. NCSA will help the organizations choose appropriate facilitator trainees, choose the training location, ensure all resources are available for the training and provide the Facilitator Certificates for the trainees that successfully complete training.

BearPaw Peacemaking Certificate Program


Robin Williams, Henry Rollins, Men and Depression

Henry Rollins has been talking about his depression for 20 years.

By now you’ve probably heard that Robin Williams died by suicide. It’s been reported that he was “deeply” depressed. There has been an outpouring of grief, and rightfully so. But that’s been the narrative. His death. Also his depression, but mainly his death.

By now you’ve also probably heard about Henry Rollins and his jackass response called ‘Fuck Suicide’, in his weekly column for the  LA WEEKLY.  ‘Fuck Suicide‘ is pretty much Rollins being a reactive jackass. He later posted on his site acknowledging his jackass behaviour.

Rollins writes “That I hurt anyone by what I said, and I did hurt many, disgusts me. It was not at all my intent but it most certainly was the result.”

His apology is short and I believe a lesson in Apologies 101. A lot of people should take notes.

But he also touches on depression, his depression. Now you can be forgiven for missing this point because you’ve too busy being angry at him. Or maybe even, WTF, the world has gone PC crazy.

So I’d like to remind you. Henry Rollins talks about his experience with depression. A man. Talking about depression. And no one seems to be listening.

“I have had a life of depression. Some days are excruciating. Knowing what I know and having been through what I have, I should have known better but I obviously did not. I get so mad when I hear that someone has died this way. Not mad at them, mad at whatever got them there and that no one magically appeared to somehow save them”.


Doesn’t really fit the “man box”. I personally think he’s the one that lit the wick so all other men can do the same. (And I reckon we have)

But the thing is, no ones being paying attention. Why ? Well I reckon it’s because people have become so ingrained into thinking and conditioned believing that “Men don’t talk.” That people don’t know how to listen anymore. Or they just choose not to. Pick one.

Anyways here’s a few stats and on men and depression, suicide and help seeking from a couple of Australian sites, but they’d be pretty universal I’m sure (I’m Australian).

Depression: “Figures suggest at some point in their lives one in five men experience anxiety and one in eight will have depression”.

Suicide: “Men are three times more likely to kill themselves than women and suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged between 15 and 44. In 2011, almost double the number of young men died by suicide compared to fatal car accidents”.

Help seeking: “But men are less likely to get the help they need, with other ABS data showing only 27 per cent of men seek professional help, compared to 40 per cent of women. In many cases men turn to drugs or alcohol instead of getting assistance, this is especially so with men under 25”.

And here is more on help seeking: “Men are still hesitant and have difficulty talking about depression and anxiety at a personal levelin theory or reality”.

The stats on depression and suicide and men speak for themselves, it’s the reportage of men help seeking that I have issues with.

See I believe that men do talk about their mental health and that people don’t know how to listen to men talk.

It was recently passed on too me the teachings of an Aboriginal Elder of the Girramay peoples; “you have to listen to what a person does – not what they say”. That’s pretty sound advice, and that’s how I think you should all have a crack at listening to men. I recently gave some tips on how to do just that. #WatchListenAsk – its at least a starting point. A better one.

By writing this piece what I’m really trying to do is advocate for change. Same conversation about men and help seeking but change the way we frame it.

See, because what I feel is the real link between Robin Williams and Henry Rollins is depression.

“I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind” Rollins wrote that for Details Magazine in 1994. The piece was called “The Iron”.


20 years later, he is still writing about his depression.

“I have had a life of depression. Some days are excruciating. Knowing what I know and having been through what I have, I should have known better but I obviously did not.”

And again in his follow up column ‘More Thoughts on Suicide

“Like a lot of people, I have battled depression all my life. It’s nothing special, in that it’s too common to be considered unique. This state has made me have to do things in a certain way to remain operational.”

If you still believe that men are hesitant and have difficulty talking about depression then try this one for size.

“There have been some truly awful stretches, as I am sure there have been for anyone who deals with depression, that have at times rendered me almost paralytic. Hours pass and I slow-cook on a cold spit.”

Read that bit again.

“There have been some truly awful stretches, as I am sure there have been for anyone who deals with depression, that have at times rendered me almost paralytic. Hours pass and I slow-cook on a cold spit.”

You can’t get much more graphic impression of the pain of depression.

In any of the pieces about Henry Rollins and Robin Williams did you pick up on any that ? Did anyone point to it and say “See men, many many men, even men like Henry Rollins, get depression and talk about it?”

Al Pacino recently spoke about his own depression recently at the Venice Film Festival. “It can last and it’s terrifying…I know that, I’ve had bouts with stuff that comes close to that, but not with that intensity. I feel spared, I feel lucky.”

Al Pacino

So are you paying attention yet?

Fellas if you are reading this, I’m paying attention.

I’m also trying to change the perception that men don’t don’t talk. And stop people from telling us constantly that we don’t.

See I also have had depression and I am sure I’ll have it again. And like any illness I’ve had before, be it a cold or tonsillitis. I’ve kick it to the curb too. I’ve had a cold more times than I can count. Thankfully, with depression, not so much.

The thing is I got well again. You can too. Again and again and again.

There’s a saying that goes, “If you tell someone something long enough, they start to believe it”.

So this conversation that men don’t talk about their mental health has got to stop; it’s dangerous. Let’s talk about how to listen better.

Men are dying.

Killing themselves. Well fuck that.

We have to become reconditioned into thinking that we do talk. And we have to recondition others into thinking the same. But we are going to have to make that first step.

Because, men and the rest of you out there, we are talking, people just haven’t been listening right.

And Henry, that “slow-cook on a cold spit ” feeling, yeah, I hear you. Oh, how I hear you.

Look after yourself mate. Self-care is important. But I don’t think I need to tell you that. You’ve got The Iron, Dameyon.


**In Australia only – If you need help now: Call Lifeline’s 24hr crisis telephone line on 13 11 14; Access online one-on-one Crisis Support Chat; Call 000 if life is in immediate danger.




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I’m taking part in the World Suicide Prevention Day Cycle Around the Globe

World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September, 2014 Cycle Around the Globe


Following last year’s pilot cycle activity, IASP is again this year hosting Cycle Around the Globe for World Suicide Prevention Day. This year, it is free to participate; all you need is access to a bicycle.

The challenge is to collectively cycle the circumference of the globe, 40,075 km or 24,900 miles, and to have participants cycling on every continent. Please join us; it does not matter how far you can cycle; every km or mile will help and there are no limits, you can cycle at home, in the gym or outdoors.

This activity is all about the global community spreading awareness of the importance of suicide prevention. This year’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is Suicide Prevention: One World Connected, and this is an activity that connects us in our purpose.

You may wish to take this opportunity to raise money for your local or national suicide prevention charity or similar organization. A sponsorship form is available below to print off to help you collect donations. If you wish to donate to IASP, all donations would be gratefully received.

Also below is an Official Participant label, which can be printed off and attached to your top whilst you are cycling, and a Certificate, which can be printed and filled in once you have completed your cycle. If you are arranging a group activity you may wish to hand out the labels to your group, at the start and, certificates at the finish.

This is a great opportunity to spread the word of suicide prevention. We have WSPD banners and Light a Candle postcards in many different languages on our website, which can be printed and handed out, as well as lots more information on World Suicide Prevention Day.

We will, of course, be spreading the word on social media as much as possible. Please let us know how you get on, send in your photos and confirm how far you cycled and we will try to put together a total distance. We would also appreciate your support in promoting the cycle. Please tell others about the activity and encourage them to join in and, if you use social media please feel free to spread the word.

Join us and Cycle for WSPD and show the world that we are all connected in the aim of preventing suicide.

Cycle Around the Globe



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“Men, who created violence against women, are the ones who should end violence against women.” Harry Belafonte

Where are the men? The renowned black activist and artist Harry Belafonte has it right when he says, as he did recently: “Men, who created violence against women, are the ones who should end violence against women.” This is a fundamental prerequisite to our liberation.

From : “Against the Crisis” – Jarrett Martineau


The full series of #ItEndsHere: Confronting the Crisis of Colonial Gender Violence can be found here #ItEndsHere


#WatchListenAsk The Problematising of Men in Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Watch. Listen. Ask. The Problematising of Men in Mental Health and Suicide Prevention ©Indigenist

I’ve been working in health and human service provision for a while now. The last three years I’ve been working across the North-West of Australia, the Kimberely. I travelled 35,000km in my first 18 months delivering upstream suicide prevention, conversation and consultation and the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid.

During my career if there is one thing that bugs me is the problematising of men. It has been so ingrained that “men don’t talk”, most people aren’t even listening. Least of all listen with the intent to understand. Most often they are listening with the intent to reply or to “fix”.

Men account for three out of every five deaths by suicide, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for males.

In Australia, for those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, the suicide rate is 2.5 times higher.

In the UK Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.

If men aren’t accessing your mental health service and they really should be (see stats above) you’re not doing it right.

You’re a hard to reach service. Period.

It was recently passed onto me the teachings of Davey Lawrence an Aboriginal Elder of the Girramay peoples; “you have to listen to what a person does – not what they say”.

I reckon that’s pretty sound advice.

Here’s what I suggest you do.

Watch men. Watch how they are behaving. See their emotions in their behaviours.

Listen to men. Listen to what they are saying, not what you are wanting or expecting to them to say.

Ask men if things are ok. If you’ve gotten to this step there’s a pretty good chance that something is up. In their response whether it is yes or no, watch and listen to what they say. If they’ve said yes, let them guide you on how you can best support them.

Now this isn’t literal. Verbal communication isn’t the only way men communicate. So trust yourself and your instincts. If you’re wrong there is a good chance you’ll be told. If they say no, that nothing is up still trust your instincts. Because if you’ve been watching and listening you’re going to be pretty much on the money. So continue to Watch, Listen and Ask.

The most important thing for anyone is to know you don’t have to through it alone. Men are no different.



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Previous and Upcoming Presentations 2010 -2014

In 2014


Keynote at 12th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference in Adelaide this November


Equity @ the Centre: Action on Social Determinants of Health – 22nd National Australian Health Promotion Association Conference & 18th Chronic Diseases Network Conference, Alice Springs this September

Voices from the Black Rainbow Indigenous LGBQTI people in suicide prevention – Intersectionality and SDOH.

Indigenous Peoples Networking Zone – International World AIDS conference, Melbourne 

Decolonising gender identity and sexuality in Indigenous Australia

Suicide Prevention Australia Conference – One Goal, Many Communities – Perth – Australia (2014)

Voices from the Black Rainbow Indigenous LGBQTI Sistergirls and Brotherboys in Suicide Prevention

International Joint Social Work and Social Development Conference – Promoting Social and Economic Equality: Responses from Social Work and Social Development – Melbourne – Australia (2014)

A culturally responsive social work application of Indigenous and western ways of thinking and doing when responding to Indigenous sexual diversity in a young Indigenous male client.

MindOUT Courageous Voices – Seeds of Transformation, Sydney – Australia 2014

Plenary Speaker “Indigeneity and Diverse Gender and Sexuality” Voices from the Black Rainbow Indigenous LGBQTI Sistergirls and Brotherboys in Suicide Prevention

Human Right Forum “Power Through Action”, Darwin – Australia (2014)

Workshop – Echoes of the Forgotten Mob, Indigenous LGBQTI Sistergirls and Brotherboys in Suicide Prevention

In 2013

The National Men’s Health Gathering and 7th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Male Health Convention, Brisbane – Australia (2013)

Believe the Hype – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Males Engage

Gay Men’s health is Men’s Health – The Heteronormativity in Men’s Health and its exclusion of Gay Men

2nd International Indigenous Voices in Social Work Conference, Winnipeg – Canada (2013)

Male, going bush (remote Australia), & into the comfort zone
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Males in Suicide Prevention

National Social and Emotional Wellbeing Workforce Gathering, Brisbane – Australia (2012)

Suicide Prevention in the North West (Kimberley)

In 2010

The 7th Annual LGBTI Health Conference, Social Inclusion, Exclusion and Resilience: A Social View of Health in 2010

The Colonisation of Desire

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Whether it’s “episodic” or “chronic,” depression is a big deal that affects millions of people every year.

Everything We Know About Depression Crammed Into A Colorful, 3-Minute Animation

Whether it’s “episodic” or “chronic,” depression is a big deal that affects millions of people every year. But it can be just as hard for the family and friends of people dealing with depression. When you haven’t experienced it, it can be beyond perplexing, so here’s a quick primer via UpWorthy

Depressed Lego