New Indigenous experiential training program now available in Brampton and across Ontario

Published May 14, 2024 at 3:32 pm

New Indigenous experiential training program now available in Brampton and across Ontario at Algoma University

A local university is offering a unique opportunity to understand and connect with Indigenous communities, via the Gabegendaadowin corporate training program at Algoma University in Brampton.

Gabegendaadowin – which translates to Mutual Respect, Thoughtfulness, Care, Consideration and Awareness for others – is a training program that bridges the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The goal of the program is to address those biases in a wholesome, intentional and collaborative fashion.

New to the school’s Brampton campus, Gabegendaadowin is geared towards staff and community organizations that work with, employ or serve Indigenous peoples, as well as anyone embarking on the journey toward Truth and Reconciliation.

The program also includes take-away manuals and resources, in-person or virtual Shingwauk Hall Indian Residential School Truth Walks (formerly known as tours), and lunch is provided. To learn more or book a training session, visit Algoma University’s website.

Initially branded as “Shifting Indigenous Frontline Tactics (SHIFT)”, the program was established in 2018 as a partnership between Algoma University and the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services to address the lack of awareness and understanding that many people have towards Indigenous peoples’ cultures and the challenges they face, such as racism and discrimination.

Since then, the program has been expanded to Algoma University’s Brampton campus.

“For us to understand the employees that we have working in our environment, and some of the different backgrounds and experiences that they’ve faced, it’s great to know the truths of what they went through,” said Chad Leask, Cold Mill Operations Superintendent at Algoma Steel and one of many people who have benefitted from the program.

Walk in someone else’s shoes

The Gabegendaadowin program is designed to be immersive and interactive, helping people understand first-hand the experiences that Indigenous peoples have been impacted by.

The goal of the program is to help participants learn strategies that will allow them to identify and eliminate their own cultural biases, both in their professional and personal lives.

The program provides a balanced learning approach of information, knowledge sharing and cultural experiences appropriate for all participating groups, regardless of sector, race, age or gender.

It’s just one part of Algoma University’s special mission to cultivate cross-cultural learning between Indigenous communities and other communities, in keeping with the history of Algoma University and its geographic sites.

The land where Algoma University’s founding campus in Sault Ste. Marie now sits was provided by Chief Shingwauk and his community for the express purpose of educating the Anishinaabe people in the way of the European people that came to this territory, while teaching the newcomers how to live in harmony with the Anishinaabe people and all of creation.

An extensive curriculum

Despite being a two-day program, the core curriculum is packed with foundational knowledge of Canada’s historical and present-day relationships with Indigenous peoples.

Here’s a quick glimpse at what the program includes:

Culture and Ceremonies: This module introduces participants to Anishinaabe culture by opening the two-day training workshop with an Anishinaabe ceremony.

Treaty Relationships: This module presents the history of treaties in Canada, highlighting Indigenous history timelines and the evolution of Treaties.

Indian Act and Indian Policy: This module explores the impacts on the colonization of Canada and specifically addresses the Indian Act and the formal process in dismantling First Nation well being.

Intergenerational Trauma and Resilience: This module focuses on the social determinants of health and wellness on Indigenous people, touching on topics like intergenerational trauma, resilience, colonization and more.

Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Calls to Action: This module highlights the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action with focus on its history and fundamental purpose within Canada’s reconciliation process.

My Personal Reconciliation Plan: This module includes the act of personal reflection. Participants will discuss their role in dismantling systemic racism and analyze how to become a better ally by discussing what allyship looks like in their workplace.

Before and after the program, all participants are asked to complete a short survey which is used to assess the impact of the program.

Successful outcomes

Many people who have already taken the program spoke about the positive impact it had on them. Chad Leask, one of Algoma Steel’s superintendents, said the program helped him understand hard truths about past and current hardships faced by Indigenous employees at the company.

“As a leader in the company, I can better relate to the truths and learn how to help those individuals cope with some of the hardships they’re facing and move forward within our organization,” he said.

Nadia Nadeau, who also works at the company as a business partner, talked about the profound emotional impact the program had on her.

“You get a lot of information given to you in two days. It can be a lot and it can be really emotional, but it’s so important because the emotions I’m feeling aren’t even a fraction of what the survivors went through,” said Nadeau.

“It’s so important to understand other people’s experiences and understand what the people you’re working with […] might be experiencing or going through.”

Following its resounding success at Algoma University’s Sault Ste. Marie campus, the program is now available at their Brampton location so it can foster better relationships not just in Brampton but the GTA 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,” said Asima Vezina, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University, when the program was first established in 2018.

Corporations, boards, leadership teams, community groups and other organizations are invited to book a training session.

Much more is offered at Algoma University

Algoma University is one of the biggest universities in the GTA, with their downtown Brampton campus located at 24 Queen St East.

Beyond their work towards truth and reconciliation, the school is also known for having an excellent computer science program and being the first school in Ontario to offer a Business of Esports program.

Other programs offered at the school include AccountingFinance and Economics, Community Economic & Social Development, and a unique Aviation Management program.

Located in the heart of downtown Brampton, Algoma University is convenient and accessible – it’s just a few minutes away from the Brampton GO station and downtown Brampton bus terminal for easy commuting, and is close walking distance to some of the city’s most popular attractions: Garden Square, Rose Theatre, PAMA, Brampton Library’s Four Corners Branch, YMCA, Gage Park, and downtown shops and restaurants.

With campuses in Brampton, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins, Algoma University offers a unique, cross-cultural experience with personalized learning that changes lives.

For more information about Algoma University, visit the school’s website, LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram pages (@algomau@aubrampton and @discoveralgomau).

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