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


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A paper on Indigenous LGBTI Suicide Prevention looking for publishers or journal

Voices from the Black Rainbow – Indigenous LGBQTI in Suicide Prevention

Abstract : The suicide rate for Aboriginal people can fluctuate between 4 to 12 times the national average. Similarly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Transgender Individual (LGBQTI) health literature note LGBQTI populations are also a high risk of suicidality. A review encompassing 15 years of Aboriginal and LGBQTI health literature was undertaken; including the current National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP) 2013-2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2013 (ATSISPS) and national LGBTI Health Strategies; Growing Up Queer (2014) and Writing Themselves In I, II, III (1998, 2004, 2010). The review noted a paucity of information on the causation of any potential suicidality at the intersection of Indigeneity, gender variance and diverse sexualities. This study captured voices of Aboriginal LGBQTI peoples through workshops called “Yarning Circles” (Bessarab and Ng’andu 2010); online surveys circulated via Aboriginal LGBQTI networks; and “tweet yarns” (Parker 2014). The online surveys and Yarning Circles established that overwhelmingly participants had not seen any health, wellbeing and suicide prevention strategies or activities for the Aboriginal LGBQTI community, and that this group would like to see some preventative measures in place.

These findings suggest the current Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Strategy and national LGBQTI Suicide Prevention Strategy need amending to reflect the unique needs and solutions for Aboriginal LGBQTI communities.


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Please heed this message if you plan on working with Indigenous people or communities

If you’ve come here to help me…


Participating with the view of being part of the liberation of Indigenous people is the single most overlooked and fundamental principle of genuinely inclusive work. Being part of the liberation is also knowing when you are required and a good indication of that is when you have been asked. Don’t let an over-zealous sense of entitlement to charity or benevolence be your motivation. Also pay attention to the research. Cultural continuity is a protective factor

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I’m a self funded Indigenous LGBTI Suicide Prevention researcher, please assist if you can

World Suicide Prevention Day 2014 Indigenous LGBTI Suicide Prevention fundraiser
Hi, I am a self funded Indigenous LGBQTI Suicide Prevention researcher. I raise money through tee spring to continue my research and endeavour to attract more funding to the Indigenous LGBQTI Suicide Prevention space. Currently, I am the only person looking specifically at this population group. I am a gay Indigenous male and we are losing to many of our mob to suicide. If you can, please buy a t-short from here

This is the design

WSPD14 Front

WSPD14 Back


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Enhancing Indigenous #SuicidePrevention to be more culturally responsive

From Tokenism to Citizenship

Enhancing Indigenous #SuicidePrevention to be more culturally responsive

8) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities -initiated, shared decisions with mainstream organisations. – This happens when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities initiate projects or programs and decision-making is shared between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities and mainstream organisations. These projects empower /authoritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities while at the same time enabling them to access and learn from the reciprocal sharing of experience and expertise of mainstream organisations.

7) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities -initiated and directed – This step is when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities initiate and direct a project or program. Mainstream organisations are involved only in a supportive role.

6) Mainstream organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities –initiated; thinking together, sharing decisions – Occurs when projects or programs are initiated by both mainstream organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities and the decision-making is shared with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities.

5) Consulted and informed – Happens when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People give advice on projects or programs designed and run by mainstream organisations. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Males are informed about how their input will be used and the outcomes of the decisions made by mainstream organisations.
4) Assigned but informed – This is where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People are assigned a specific role and informed about how and why they are being involved.

3) Tokenism – When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People appear to be given a voice, but in fact have little or no choice about what they do or how they participate.

2) Decoration – Happens when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People are used to help or “bolster” a cause/intention in a relatively indirect way, although mainstream organisations do not pretend that the cause/intention is inspired by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male.

1) Manipulation – Happens where non- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People to support causes and pretend that the causes are inspired by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

REF : Ladder_of_Participation_1



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.