Powell River, British Columbia – Tla’amin territory
I am originally from Corner Brook, Newfoundland – a beautiful place where I still visit my family every year. I bounced around within and outside of Canada before eventually finding myself (somewhat) grounded on the west coast. I always worked with children and youth: from summer camps and after school programs, to volunteering and working overseas, to group homes, to eventually working with families. At this point my work is more community-based and comes in different forms. I sometimes describe what I do as intergenerational and intercultural civic engagement. In addition to my community work, I have completed post-graduate degrees and also really love teaching and doing research. For me, a blend of community-based practice, teaching, and research is a perfect combination.
I had a degree in sociology and was living overseas off and on for a few years. It was while I was living in Jamaica working at a home for pregnant teens and young moms that I started exploring possibilities for relational work with young people in Canada – that’s when I discovered the field of Child and Youth Care existed! I registered for a diploma program at the Nova Scotia Community College upon my return to Canada and had an excellent experience. That was my entry into the field.
“Nothing about us without us.” This is a slogan often used by self-advocates in the disability sector, a powerful field of practice and activism from which we can all learn a lot. To me this slogan is an important reminder about inclusion and representation.
I have gained a lot from this field in terms of my understanding of and experiences with relational practice. I believe important relational work takes place not only with children, youth, and families but also with allied professionals, policy makers, and each other. Sometimes the most difficult – and most meaningful – relational work comes when working across differences. Whether negotiating cultural differences, power dynamics, worldviews, or other seemingly insurmountable divides, I believe this can move us collectively towards peace and wellbeing.
I’m sure I could change my response to this on a weekly basis, but my answer today is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuWr0gDNsxE
My favorite experience is encountering people in new ways: re-meeting children who I knew as babies, or collaborating with a young adult who I once knew as a child. Getting to know children, youth, and families in my community through different avenues, and throughout the lifespan, is one of the most exciting things about this work!
When you feel a sense of discomfort, fear, opposition, or defensiveness … notice that. Seek supervision, reflect honestly, and be curious about that which you might prefer to avoid. Try to be as generous with yourself and your mistakes as would be with someone else.
Here is a quick peak at some blog posts I have written: https://ceihub.com/blog-posts/
In a sense everyone, every place, and every idea I encounter influences my work somehow. My mentors, students, community, friends, partner, and family are all significant to me. At this time I am perhaps most influenced by and grateful for the teachings coming to me as the Tla’amin Nation has moved into self-governance – re-claiming its position of leadership in the region where I live, and revitalising and generously sharing important cultural practices. This is particularly significant for our field at this moment in Canada’s history.
Last updated October 2016