WALKING ALONGSIDE YOUTH - AN ONLINE ANXIETY COURSE
The Foundations of WAY
Weaving together Indigenous & Western best practices
Walking Alongside Youth (WAY) recognizes the rich diversity of Indigenous Peoples’ knowledges and values, which have existed throughout British Columbia since time immemorial. Indigenous perspectives can make a significant contribution to our understanding of well-being and to culturally distinct, safe and relational responses to mental health challenges, such as anxiety. The course respectfully blends Indigenous knowledges with trauma- and evidence-informed approaches to support the well-being of all youth, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. It is intended to be what the Elders refer to as good medicine for everyone.
WAY draws on emerging research and established knowledges in the areas of:
Cultural Safety & Humility
The First Nations Health Authority defines Cultural Safety and Cultural Humility as follows:
Cultural Safety – is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the health care system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe and when receiving health care.
Cultural Humility – is a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.
Relationship, connection and togetherness
Development and emotions
Indigenous holistic healing traditions offer a world of possibility for supporting youth with anxiety in ways that are relational, ethical and dignifying. Indigenous perspectives on taking care of the heart-mind connection provide culturally safe guidance that can be tremendously helpful for youth. Providing cultural affirmation that strengthens a youth’s sense of belonging, mattering and identity—which are important factors in development and wellness—has the potential to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Transformative learning theory and contemplative education
Transformative learning theory is concerned with learning that results in deep shifts within the learner. Deep learning shifts are often disorienting at first and cause the learner to self-reflect and even re-evaluate what they think they know and how they have come to know it. Transformative learning can result in a re-evaluation of one’s belief system.
Contemplative education blends learning from lived experience with self-reflection as a process for increasing self-understanding, which in turn builds our capacity for relationship. Contemplative education, combined with transformative learning theory, offers a learning experience that results in new ways of seeing oneself in relationship to others and to the world.
WAY engages you, the learner, in a process of transformative learning, supported by contemplative education practices, that identifies relationship as the safest and most natural context in which to support youth with anxiety, as opposed to relying on skills and strategies as the answer. Strengthening relationship becomes the answer and therefore the focus.
As you move through this course, you will be supported and empowered to see relationships as the most important factor in supporting youth with anxiety. This requires a shift from the established approach, in which the role of expert and standardized strategies are the focus, to one in which the relationship becomes essential to understanding how to support a youth and their unique identity, community and culture.
Indigenous place-based knowledges
Blackfoot Elder and scholar Leroy Little Bear teaches us to take care of our relationships. Little Bear describes ceremony as the way in which Indigenous Peoples have always acknowledged and renewed their relationships with those things that make our existence possible, including our human-to-human relationships.