If you’re a leader who seeks to facilitate change, I know the recent news about the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops residential school rocked you to the core. When we look at residential school through a belonging lens, it is clear who was “pushed out” and how. Supporting Indigenous leadership is key to finding our way back to each other.

I believe we are drawn to this work of building a more diverse, equitable and sustainable world, in part, because we are “super feelers.” We feel not only our own personal pain and that of others we are connected to, but we feel the pain of the world. I have come to see this is a burden and a gift.

We all know what the “burden” part of being a super feeler is like. There’s a lot of turmoil going on in the world and hence way too much to feel. It can be overwhelming. It can even lead to PTSD from feeling so much trauma all the time.

But what is the gift in trauma?

I believe the gift is that we see and feel the heart of any given issue. And it provides the energy and stamina to be part of the transformational change our threshold in time calls for.

One of my favourite quotes to capture this sentiment is by John Paul Lederach when he challenges us to live not “by the way things are but according to a vision of things not seen.

That vision of things not seen eventually changes the way things are… Dreamers, he claims, are essential for the movement towards (transformative change)... We need to stay so close to the ground that we feel the very soil’s moisture bubbling up from people’s daily life, pains, and realities. Yet we must be so close to our dreams of what could be that we can feel and hear the seeds pregnant with life as they break forth from below the surface.” (The Journey Toward Reconciliation, page 197).

I loved what students from N’Kala school near Douglas Lake, Upper Nicola Indian Band, created to honour these 215 children:
Students from N’Kala school - Seeds that would awaken the world
My question to you is...

What is your dream and how can you be a seed of change?

In 2000, I took a 4-year research sabbatical to explore what is the “glue” that keeps Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships stuck… What is at the root of our collective denial?

What I discovered is that the habit of imposing our worldviews (in our attitudes, behaviours, policies and practices) is at the heart of the problem.

The residential school system is a clear example of how one worldview was imposed on another group of people with devastating consequences. However, this imposition on Indigenous worldviews is not a thing of the past; this tendency to impose our worldviews on others persists. Even in our change efforts. To create the conditions for genuine reconciliation, we first need to become away of this habit within ourselves and our social change strategies. Once we become aware of how we impose worldviews, we can make the choice to change the habit to one that fosters worldview mutuality, respect and understanding.

While you consider how you can be the seed of change, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you can shift what you are currently doing in your social change efforts. How can you include supporting the voice and leadership of Indigenous people and, as a result, contribute to building a genuine culture of belonging in all that you do?

And if you already do that, how can you support the wider community to listen in new ways and practice worldview skills?

Chief Robert Joseph: Engaging Indigenous worldviews

Here’s a clip from Chief Robert Joseph’s talk on engaging Indigenous worldviews from our course, Essential Worldview Skills in A Rapidly Changing World.

Share your thoughts:

Please reach out and let me know how you are and what your thoughts are on being a seed of change in our collective efforts to transform Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships and the systems that influence them. I believe supporting Indigenous leadership is key to moving forward together.

Looking forward to hearing from you.
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


About the Author

Jessie Sutherland

An international speaker, trainer, and consultant, Jessie Sutherland works with organizations and communities to engage diversity, build belonging and ignite intercultural collaboration. Her approach creates sustainable community change that effectively addresses a wide range of complex social problems.

Don't know where to start?