We know resilience starts with communities, and that communities know best what they need. Using creative techniques to amplify the voice of youth and creating opportunities for educators, Elders, parents, coaches and community members to develop their own strategies to enhance student success, we ensure a supportive partnership where each side teaches, learns and grows.
The backbone of our work is a Resilience-based approach to Comprehensive School Health: supporting the creation of positive structures around the individual, while simultaneously strengthening the individual themselves through Indigenous scholar Dr. Martin Brokenleg’s Circle of Courage. For more up-to-date information on the Circle of Courage, please visit Starr Commonwealth.
While the Circle of Courage strengthens from the inside-out, the Comprehensive School Health approach builds positive structures around the individual, creating communities where staff and students thrive.
We work to create safe and caring environments by focusing on:
- Social and Physical Environments: Designing physical spaces where staff and students can be active, learn in new ways, and feel comfortable, while also creating social settings where they feel safe and cared for.
- Teaching and Learning: Highlighting and mentoring novel teaching practices, such as outdoor classrooms or teaching curriculum through movement, and creating opportunities for students to teach others and be active participants in their own learning.
- Partnerships and Services: Bringing together people, organizations, and communities that are all working towards the same goal of school wellness, we provide space, facilitation, resources and support to promote positive connections.
- Healthy School Policy: Creating systems change over the long term, supporting the creation or review of wellness supporting policies at the school, district, and provincial level.
Our work is well profiled in this partner video about Kainai wellness.
We support equity over equality. Equality means treating everyone the same, and therefore assumes that everyone needs the same thing, and is beginning from the same place. Equity means working to understand what people need based on the different historical and contemporary realities they experience, and providing relevant support guided by that understanding.
An example of this is a sprinting race around a track. Working from equality, everyone would start from the same line - on the surface, that seems fair. However, it ignores the fact that the outside lanes then have a longer distance to travel. It erases the inherent differences in experiences that the different runners will face, and automatically positions the outside runners at a disadvantage.
Instead, runners start from staggered lines, offsetting the natural imbalance created by the design of the track. This is an example of equity: acknowledging that there are multiple factors contributing to, or opposing, the success of a person or group, and changing the practice to reflect that.
Indigenous communities throughout Canada experience the lasting effects of colonization, with many oppressive structures, including Indian Residential Schools, enacted through the education system. This legacy includes a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, malnutrition, obesity, and other health issues, as well as clear negative effects on suicide rates, graduation rates, and overall quality of life.
Our work acknowledges that these realities create barriers to success for communities. We also recognize that the rich culture and knowledge that helps communities endure these hardships can form the pathway to equity in the school system, and wellness for all students.
Resilient Schools Projects
We build relationships, listen to and plan with the schools and communities we work with to ensure a supportive partnership where each side teaches, learns and grows. Find out more about our project work with schools and communities across Alberta below.
The Resiliency Summit is a two day gathering of Indigenous youth, educators and community members for the purpose of sharing activities, celebrating stories and practices regarding health, wellness, and resilience. Students and educators will learn and share with youth mentors, Elders, community members and researchers, experiencing various traditional, active and creative activities.
Questions? Want to work with us? Send us a message using the contact form below.
Melissa is currently away on parental leave. Current Treaty 7 inquiries will be directed to Andrea.