Established in 2018 as a partnership between Algoma University (AU) and the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services (SSMPS), the Gabegendaadowin program was developed to help address identified issues related to lack of awareness and understanding of Indigenous people’s culture and challenges they face. It also helps to address systemic racism as it relates to Indigenous peoples. Gabegendaadowin is an experiential two-day, evidence-based interactive learning program geared towards public, social service, and government agencies, the private sector and Indigenous communities.
The objective of the program is to bridge the understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. This will occur by fostering an environment of greater understanding of Indigenous peoples and communities, and the responsibility that Canadians have in actively facilitating and supporting systemic change.
The goal of the program is to address those biases in an intentional and collaborative fashion.
Targeted awareness and skill development
Participants ultimately engage in perspective-taking
Immersive open learning to walk in someone else’s shoes
Provide reflective communities of practice for front line workers employed in a range of public service and private sector settings.
Guide participants to develop and carry out cooperative and individual strategies to identify and eliminate own cultural biases in professional roles and personally
Provide a balanced learning approach of information, knowledge sharing and cultural experiences appropriate for all participating groups, regardless of sector, race, age or gender
Core Training Modules:
The Gabegendaadowin program is designed with a core curriculum that provides participants with foundational knowledge of Canada’s historical and present-day relationships with Indigenous peoples. Additional modules are available for a customizable training experience.
- Cultural Opening – Mino Biimaatiziwin
- Treaties and Wampum
- Colonization and the Indian Act
- Legacy of Residential Schools and Sixties Scoop
- Decolonizing Practices
- Reconciliation, Healing, and a Way Forward
- TRC Calls to Action
- My Personal and Professional Responsibility in Overturning Systematic Racism
Modules that can be added to the core training focusing on the following sectors:
- Policing, Health, Mental Health, Child Welfare, Justice, Education, Corporate, Municipalities, Sports and Leadership
Prior to the training, all participants will be asked to complete a short survey. These surveys will be used in combination with exit surveys to assess the impact of the interactive learning program.
Gabegendaadowin (formerly SHIFT) emerged through a partnership between Algoma University and the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services (SSMPS).
SSMPS is committed to working in collaboration with Algoma University to support ongoing efforts to build equitable, respectful and trusting relationships between Police and Indigenous peoples.
The primary and initial goal of Gabegendaadowin (formerly SHIFT) was to bridge the understanding between Police and the Indigenous Community, while maintaining a sensitivity to cultural backgrounds and a broader understanding of the unique needs of the community.
Through the analysis of reports such as the “Broken Trust Report” and other related literature, Algoma University, local Elders, the Shingwauk Residential School Survivor Community, and the SSMPS have worked together to cultivate an inclusive and cooperative learning environment intended to mitigate the stigma that can impact positive relationships.
Gabegendaadowin aims to unsettle the settlers; to educate those occupying positions of social and institutional authority and to help them recognize that racism is something that is experienced by Indigenous people regionally, provincially and nationally.
Gabegendaadowin will provide the space and time for participants to reflect on their own attitudes, and perspectives. Participants will learn to recognize and become more aware of the importance of creating positive relationships with Indigenous peoples.
Gabegendaadowin’s curriculum is designed and delivered in consultation with community members and Elders. Gabegendaadowin explores the impact of institutional relationships on Indigenous peoples and communities while providing a safe and inclusive space that facilitates open dialogue.
“Having the privilege to participate in the Gabegendaadowin (formerly SHIFT) training was a humbling experience. It was evident to me from the outset that this course was going to challenge my beliefs. Hearing residential school survivors speak about their experiences was heart-wrenching. Seeing the pride young adults have in their culture and heritage despite experiencing incidents of racism and discrimination is impacting me on a daily basis. I find myself looking beyond overt behavior of an individual and considering deeper issues. The Gabegendaadowin (formerly SHIFT) training has not only made me a better officer, but a better person.”
Cst. Darren Corcoran
“We are pleased to be entering into this significant partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service. Given our special mission, we feel strongly about promoting positive, respectful, and inclusive relationships between police personnel and Indigenous peoples within Sault Ste. Marie and beyond. We are honoured to be conducting this crucial work on our campus that can eventually be made available to other communities in the province and across Canada to foster mutual understanding, respect, and safe interactions.”
President and Vice-Chancellor of the University
“The Gabegendaadowin (formerly SHIFT) training is already proving to be invaluable to the uniformed and civilian members of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service. Being able to experience local Indigenous traditions and gain a new perspective on the history of colonization, I believe, will help us serve the entire community. We were fortunate to hear a young woman speak on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls; that experience was incredibly powerful and inspirational for all in attendance.”
Chief Hugh Stevenson
“The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service is eager to continue working with our partners in the Indigenous community and at Algoma University on this new and exciting learning opportunity. This innovative partnership will pave a path for future groups across the province, promoting a mutually beneficial relationship and learning experience. I would like to thank the Indigenous Advisory Group, the staff at Algoma University, and the members of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service for their leadership, and for their tireless efforts in creating this opportunity.”
Former Deputy Chief (Retired)
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