Aboriginal Awareness and Diversity Training: Working Together to Eliminate Discrimination

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Aboriginal, cross-cultural and sensitivity training are needed in schools and organizations around Canada. Soaring Bird Consulting (SBC), an Aboriginal awareness training company owned and operated by Diana Violet Bird, provides training to schools and organizations in Canada for the purpose of decreasing racism and discrimination towards Aboriginal people. According to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Developments publication Our Children – Keepers of the Sacred Knowledge: Schools can play a pivotal role in transforming the relationship between First Nations people and Canadian society. Schools must actively oppose personal, institutional and systemic racism directed at First Nations students, parents and teachers. Compulsory training and resources must be provided to all teachers, administrators, trustees and support staff to address racism (pre-service and in-service training). Programs and resources, especially with regards to advocacy, aimed at assisting students and parents to deal with racism must be developed and implemented (2002, pg. 30). As well, the Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination in The Canadian Commission for UNESCO1 have made the following 5 recommendations to decrease racism and discrimination in communities: Support measures to challenge racism and discrimination and promote diversity and equal opportunity in the education sector and in other forms of learning. Support partnerships between educations and front-line community organizations to each out to the vulnerable youth whose access to education is adversely affected by bullying and violence or discriminatory discipline policies or practices Promote respect, understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity and the inclusion of Aboriginal and racialized communities into the cultural fabric of the municipality. Support initiatives that increase expertise and capacity within cultural organization to effect change in their communities and enable their members to participate fully in society. Promote awareness of the fact that integration of a community’s cultural fabric, together with its economic, educational, social and security interests, strengths and benefits the whole community. p. 20 The Canadian Commission for UNESCO also recognizes that “all Albertans should share in an awareness and appreciation of the diverse racial and cultural composition of society and that the richness of life in Alberta is enhanced by sharing that diversity.” SBC will provide Aboriginal awareness training and consulting for teachers and administrators of schools grades k-12. SBC will provide these same services to faculty and administration to Universities in Canada. It is SBC’s vision to train staff members of schools who teach children and students, to create a better understanding and an awareness which will foster a deeper tolerance in order to eliminate racism. SBC believes that organizations play a pivotal role in transforming the relationship between First Nations people and Canadian Society by actively opposing personal, institutional and systemic racism. By working together, we can eliminate discrimination, celebrate diversity and foster an environment of dignity within diversity.

Keywords: Aboriginal, Awareness, Training
Stream: Race and Racism
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Diana Bird

Owner and Facilitator, Director, Soaring Bird Consultant
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Work Experience:Current Owner and facilitator of Soaring Bird Consulting - Aboriginal awareness training and consulting company. 2007 –Family Violence Prevention Program Worker Awo Taan Family Wellness Centre Calgary and Cochrane, AB Provide one to one counseling for families and women affected by family violence and abuse. Conduct workshop presentations from an Aboriginal perspective on family violence, the affects on family Facilitate healing circles along with an Elder Collaborate with community resource centers to provide support to families 2005 – 2007 Crisis Counsellor Awo Taan Native Women’s Shelter Calgary, AB Crisis counseling/intervention for women and children fleeing domestic violence community advocacy for basis services risk and need assessment and providing services based on these support women and their children to become independent (housing, finances, legal & medical, etc) 2003 – 2005 School Support Counsellor Wood’s Homes & George Wood’s Learning Centre
Calgary, AB Behavioral support at George Wood’s Learning Centre, for youth in grades 10-12 who were behaviorally challenged due to social and psychological reasons (FASD/E, depression, ADHD, suicidal, rape victims, young offenders, sexual offenders, etc) Provided crisis intervention Contact: Don Barbor. (letter of recommendation)

2002 – 2003 Counsellor/On-call Worker
Indian Child & Family Services
Montreal Lake, SK

Worked in the Little Red Group Home for apprehended youth
Provided residential counseling and behavioral support to youth in residence
On-call work (sporadic); crisis intervention, risk assessment, and apprehension services to homes where children were at risk in the Montreal Lake Cree Nation area
Contact: Edadeen Bird: (306) 242-2783

2001 – 2002 Youth Outreach Counsellor
Youth Activity Centre
Prince Albert, Sk

Counselling services for youth at risk and sex trade workers
Supported youth, provided meals, daily programs, and outreach services for sex trade workers

Masters of Integrated Arts and Science – currently enrolled at Athabasca University
Ni Gann Training, Reconciliation of the Residential School Experience; in training for certification – January 2007
Bachelor of Arts and Science, Major in Psychology – University of Saskatchewan (2001). Working towards 2nd Degree for Native Studies (3 years of study completed)
International Peace Research Association Conference – University of Calgary (2006)
The Race/Cultural divide in Education, Law and the Helping Professions Conference – University of Regina (2006)
AWASIS Conference (annually) – Saskatchewan
Universal Responsibility – A Public Talk by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama at the University of British Columbia (2004)
ASSIST training – Suicide Intervention training certificate.
St. John First Aid & CPR Certificate- 2007
Family Violence Prevention Workshop, 2007
Mediation Certificates I and II, 2000.

Ref: D08P0219