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Cultural learning opportunities available for Campbell River businesses, groups

Ally-led workshops covering Indigenous identity, governance and local history
A still from one of the training videos teaching terminology for Canada’s various Indigenous, Métis and Inuit groups. Photo courtesy Maya’xala

A new set of cultural training workshops is available for organizations and businesses looking to get greater understanding of Indigenous Peoples, governance systems, and local history.

Part of the Strengthening Communities Grant that was awarded to the Strathcona Regional District in Aug. 2021 was to look at opportunities to create cultural awareness throughout the community. The SRD, the Strathcona Community Health Network and the Urban Indigenous Housing Coalition tapped Maya’xala Culturally Centered Home Studies and Integrated Services to put together three workshops for people to take back and present to their organizations.

“The group around the table really wanted some learning opportunities local to Campbell River that they could utilize across the board for businesses,” said Tanille Johnston, Maya’xala’s founder. “We wanted it to be really flexible for any organization, not necessarily focusing on health care or the fishing industry, but something that was a bit more broad and could be utilized by the greater business district.”

It works like this: representatives from organizations and businesses attend a training event where they learn how to facilitate the workshops. From there, they take what they’ve learned back to their organizations and deliver the workshops to their coworkers.

“We have a script that goes along with each workshop, it’ll tell you how many people you should have, roughly how long it’s going to take, questions to ask and once the video has been viewed how to facilitate those questions,” Johnston said. “We try to reduce the amount of anxiety that it would cause trying to host something like this, knowing that it’s a very unique space for people to step in to and that there would be a lot of nervousness. We’re trying to make sure that it’s as simple as possible and friendly as possible so that we can support our allies to step into this place and start doing some of this training so we don’t have to do it for ourselves anymore.”

The workshops will also have local Indigenous people who have volunteered to be witnesses, which is an important part of Indigenous ceremonies.

“In the Big House, you have people who come join your ceremony as witnesses and they are people who hold the story of what happened at the ceremony and they keep people accountable, they’re the truth-tellers of that ceremony,” Johnston said. “We have a list of witnesses, local Indigenous people who are willing to come in and be participants within the workshops to make sure that the work is done in a good way, and that you have a support there for conducting the workshop.”

There will be three different workshops. The first will be called “Who We Are” and it looks at the differences and uniqueness of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. The other two workshops are still in development, but will look at governance systems used by Indigenous Peoples (Hereditary Chiefs and elected systems), and the territory of Campbell River.

“There’s a lot of confusion out there about who we acknowledge when we acknowledge the territory and that sort of thing,” she said.

The workshops are designed to be relational, and held with a maximum of 12 people.

Those who are interested in being facilitators can contact Johnston at

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