Episode 1: Serving Indigenous infants, children, and families with Dr. Allen Benson
We are so excited officially to launch KottageVision! Each episode, we will have conversations with individuals who are making a positive impact and helping those in need within our community with the purpose of sharing Kids Kottage’s vision and mission to keep infants and children safe, and families strong.
Throughout Episode 1 of KottageVision, Kids Kottage’s Executive Director, Janine Fraser and Allen Benson discuss the safety and well being of Indigenous infants, children and families, the vital role worldview plays in the lives of Indigenous peoples and how our community can continue to work toward a place of inclusivity. We were so honoured to have Allen Benson as our first guest as he has had a major impact within Indigenous communities. Dr. Benson has been a recipient of numerous awards including An Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta, The Alberta Centennial Medal, and The Margaret Mead International Community Corrections Award. Allen is a member of the Beaver Lake First Nation and is the CEO of the Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA) – an agency he has been with for over 40 years. During this time, he was seconded to serve as an advisor to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs for the New South Wales Government in Australia for three years.
He is a passionate advocate for the poor and the disenfranchised in Alberta and has been a leader in the areas of restorative and social justice, housing, homelessness, and healing. He has transformed his life experience into innovative service delivery and community-based action. He is currently the Chair of the Alberta Family Violence Death Review Committee and is President of the National Associations Active in Criminal Justice.
With a guest of such caliber, there were many high points throughout the conversation, but here are a few highlights you can find in Episode 1:
Community partnerships are important (3:20)
NCSA focuses their work on addressing the effects of historic trauma Indigenous peoples have endured for generations. Often times, this means helping parents discover their natural parenting skills by reconnecting with their culture, language, and the spirituality of their people. Kids Kottage partners with organizations like NCSA in an effort to fill the gaps families need, and make a collective effort of building a stronger, more resilient community as a whole.
“We work alongside organizations like Kids Kottage and many other organizations that support early child development,” Benson explained. “Our work is to focus on the parents to ensure we address the effects of historic trauma and protect the rights of our people and the parents. To help them gain a voice on how their children are being taken care of and how they will reintegrate back into the community.”
NCSA’s efforts in reclaiming the Indigenous worldview (11:23)
Indigenous worldview has a strong tie to self-identity. NCSA’s worldview can be summed up in the following statement:
There is no place for shame, blame, or guilt.
By recognizing this, individuals are able to self-determine. “It’s difficult to self-determine when you are unhealthy,” Dr. Benson explained. “When you haven’t even begun to unpack the historic trauma that has impacted your life.” NCSA works to help individuals unpack the historic trauma they have experienced, take responsibility for what they can take responsibility for, recognize where the damaged relationships are, and restore those relationships in an effort to rebuild a stronger present and future. “Relationships have to be repaired in a way that makes people feel like they are heard and they have a say,” Dr. Benson said.
Research shows a direct tie between child welfare, and federal prison (17:14)
Working together collectively as a community to protect our most vulnerable is so important. Research has shown that many of those who become offenders in their adult life were exposed to trauma at an early age. The partnership between Kids Kottage and NCSAserves as the perfect example of coming together in an effort to build a stronger, more resilient community as a whole.
June is National Indigenous Month (20:07)
June is National Indigenous History Month, and there are a number of ways you can celebrate. Dr. Benson explained how the best thing we can do is work to better educate ourselves on Indigenous culture, and the true history of the Indigenous peoples. “Find ways to connect with Indigenous initiatives...the only way for people to unpack their bias is to dig into the true history and reflect on what has influenced their biases in the first place.”
We hope you find this episode to be inspiring, and informative, and that you join us for our next episode!
In the meantime, you can subscribe to our email list to stay up to date on upcoming episodes, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @kidskottageyeg. You can also learn more about what Dr. Benson and his team at NCSA are doing at http://www.ncsa.ca/