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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

Note: Modules 1-10 will be offered through Remote Circle Learning. Modules 11 and 12 will be offered at the Centre for Indigegogy, Faculty of Social Work, Circle Room if we are able to meet in person at that time. Otherwise, the final two courses will be offered online.


Are you an Indigenous or non-Indigenous practitioner working with Indigenous Peoples? Are you interested in practicing from a wholistic lens? Are you interested in what it means to decolonize and Indigenize trauma work in the context of the politics of colonialism? Then this Certificate is for you.

Understanding trauma from a decolonial lens is essential for practitioners working with Indigenous people. Decolonization means understanding the historical and present structural violence that is at the root of trauma in Indigenous communities. This certificate was developed with the desire to give practitioners and helpers the knowledge and skills to decolonize their practice while also offering wholistic healing practices.

To complete your certificate, participants must complete 84 hours. Three of the 13 modules are core courses that must be taken although they do not need to be taken in order."


Module 1: Decolonizing Trauma Work

  • Dates: Sept. 30, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Dr. Kathy Absolon, MSW, PhD
  • Core Module (7 hours)
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

This one day module will focus on un-packing internal and external manifestations of colonialism in the context of colonial trauma. Participants will gain a better understanding of the political context of colonization and this impact on Indigenous peoples whole being. There are many manifestations and tenants as well as understanding the systemic and structural manifestations of colonization and how it impacts trauma in Indigenous communities. This session sets a decolonial foundation for ongoing sessions and fosters a decolonizing lens for wholistic healing practices.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Enhanced understanding of the politics of colonization in Canada via Indigenous peoples.
  • An increased understanding of how the politics connects to social indicators of health and well being.
  • An increased awareness of wholistic practice through a decolonizing lens.

Module 2: Indigenizing Trauma Work

  • Dates: Oct. 8 and 9, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Elder, Tina Armstrong, MSW
  • Core Module (14 hours)
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

In this two day module, Indigenizing Trauma work will focus on generating an understanding of ways helpers create culturally safe and informed practices to assist individuals who have experienced colonial trauma. Utilizing a wholistic approach to teaching and learning, participants will enhance their current practice through this wholistic experience. This module will be experiential in nature and each participate will have an opportunity to understand trauma from an Indigenous wholistic lens and bring their experiences to this session.

Learning Outcomes:

  • To develop an appreciation for the role and practice of Indigenous cultural approaches to responding to colonial trauma.
  • Increased understanding of cultural approaches as a response to the impacts of colonial trauma.
  • An enhancement understanding of applying a wholistic practice to your own practice.

Module 3: Wholistic approaches to caring for our children: Alternative Care in Customary Care and Kin Care

  • Dates: Nov. 26 and 27, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Carrie Tabobondung, MSW
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

Colonial trauma has plagued Indigenous families, children and communities since contact. Capacity building in communities is key to restoring children’s’ safety and wellbeing. We are currently in positions to create community informed alternative care approaches to caring for our children in community by generating Indigenous centred tools for assessment and care. In this two day workshop, participants will learn about methods of community engagement and how to build relationships with community based on trust. We will learn about processes of how to help communities build their own unique processes to alternative care. Working with children in care is distinct and requires a wholistic lens and Indigenous based practice approaches. Unique approaches inclusive of cultural teachings, ceremony and relationship building guide wholistic practice with children, families and communities.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understanding the impact of colonial trauma in child welfare and childcare.
  • Fostering skills and knowledge on wholistic practice with alternative care practices.
  • Increasing understanding on how to foster relationship building and processes for community-based process for caring for children in community.
  • Build an understanding of Indigenous centred tools such as HEART and SPIRIT and IFDA as a wholistic assessment tool.

Module 4: Reawakening the Spirit in Colonial Trauma Care

  • Dates: Dec. 10 and 11, 2020
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Elder, Tina Armstrong, MSW
  • Core Module (14 hours)
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

This two day module will focus on Indigenous ways of awakening and healing Spirit within. Participants will begin to learn about their own relationship to Spirit and how our Spirits inform our practice. In this session, the Elder will be lifting up the teachings of Spirit and engage participants through circle and ceremony. She will focus on her Anishinaabe knowledge and 8 Grandmother teachings.

Learning Outcomes:

  • To foster an enhanced sense of self and identity as wholistic healing practitioners.
  • Experienced teachings of feasting the Spirit dishes and its meaning in practice.
  • Understanding the 8 Grandmother teachings and how that will help in spiritually informed trauma care.

Module 5: Indigenous Incarceration: Providing Trauma Informed Care

  • Dates: Jan. 11 and 12, 2021
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Giselle Dias, MSW
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

Colonialism, racism, sexism and the over-policing of Indigenous peoples are linked to alarming rates of incarceration of Indigenous peoples. We will discuss the experiences of Post-Traumatic Stress in relationship to the criminalization of Indigenous people and the trauma of incarceration. In this two day module, participants will gain a better understanding of symptoms of PTSD and foster wholistic healing knowledge and compassion in working with peoples impacted by incarceration.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants will leave with the understanding the colonial context of increasing incarceration rates of Indigenous Peoples’ (particularly Two-Spirit, queer, disabled Indigenous peoples’).
  • A deeper knowledge of symptoms of PTSD and how to mitigate those symptoms in a correctional system that continues to cause harm.
  • Skills in working with prisoners wholistically within the prison setting.
  • Participants will develop skills to advocate for structural and institutional changes as well as advocacy skills for the rights of prisoners.

Module 6: In Between the Missing and Murdered: The Need for Indigenous Led Responses to Human Trafficking

  • Dates: Jan. 28 and 29, 2021
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Dr. Cyndy Baskin
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

This two day module is created and taught by an Indigenous female identifying social work educator and researcher with lived experience of violence. This module is based on a preliminary research project in Toronto, Ontario with family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and trans women and survivors of sexual trafficking, as well as those who offer them support services. It tackles the issues of the current impacts of colonization and structural racism as the root of gender-based violence, and offers pathways forward at the grassroots and systemic levels, including best practices based on research, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous helpers. The trainer also explains why research into gender-based violence towards Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, and trans-women needs to be controlled and owned by Indigenous Peoples and communities but supported by mainstream organizations and agencies.

Learning Outcomes:

  • How to identify Indigenous victims/survivors of human trafficking and those who are vulnerable to violence, murder and disappearing.
  • Identify how colonization and its current impacts, such as racism, sexism, and poverty, are at the root of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.
  • Understand the strengths and challenges of the National Inquiry’s report on MMIWG and how this violence is seen as genocide.
  • How to become involved in advocacy and activism that educates on the reasons and circumstances under which Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and trans-women become involved in human trafficking.
  • Identify best practices in providing services and programming to Indigenous victims/survivors of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.
  • Identify ways to prevent the trafficking of Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and trans-women.

Module 7: Mino-Yaa-Daa (“Healing Together”): It Takes a Village

  • Dates: Feb. 18 and 19, 2021
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Dr. Cyndy Baskin
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

Knowledges, beliefs, identities, and values are at the foundation of Indigenous ways of helping which are passed on by Elders, Traditional Teachers, healers, and helpers. Such learning continues to be shared in the context of the current time, so that is it applicable to addressing the needs of Indigenous individuals, families, and communities today. This two day module will discuss perspectives such as a holistic approach, community-based, interconnectedness and healing justice as they apply to addressing family violence for those who are harmed, those who do the harming, children, and communities. The information focuses on a family violence healing program which was the first of its kind to be a recognized Indigenous Partner Abuse Response Program. It will include the findings of a research project based on an evaluation over five years of service delivery.

Learning Outcomes:

  • An Indigenous definition of family violence.
  • The root causes of family violence as connected to colonization and its current impacts.
  • Greater understanding of wholistic approaches.
  • Understanding of cultural safety and how it is applied in practice.
  • Knowledge of Indigenous focused healing services.
  • Understanding community empowerment and leadership.
  • Mentorship of service users to become service providers.
  • How non-Indigenous helpers can incorporate Indigenous worldviews into their practice with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous service users.

Module 8: Dewagonose: Supporting Healing in Children and Youth

  • Dates: March 4 and 5, 2021
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Aki Absolon, MSW
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

In this two day module, participants will be taught by an Indigenous school social worker who has worked with incarcerated youth, youth in care and is a youth role model and community leader. Participants have an opportunity to learn from her stories and experiences as she practices from both a wholistic and a colonial trauma informed lens. Together participants will share stories of working with and supporting Indigenous children and youth towards building ways of practices based on strengths and resilience.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Increased understanding of how colonial trauma impacts children and youth.
  • Knowledge of cultural ways o supporting children and youth.
  • Methods to building strength and resilience in ones wholistic practice.

Module 9: Women of the Shining Light: Indigenous Mothers, Substance Misuse, Child Welfare and the Seven Sacred Teachings

  • Dates: March 29 and 30, 2021
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Dr. Cyndy Baskin
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

This two day module focuses on how, in Canada, Indigenous Peoples continue to experience marginalization, over representation in the child welfare system, and a higher prevalence of poverty and substance misuse challenges. It highlights Indigenous women in particular because of the oppressive experiences of systemic racism and discrimination they face, including legislation such as the Indian Act and the Child and Family Services Act, which directly targets them. This module is based on research that implemented Indigenous research methodologies to explore ways to increase collaboration between Indigenous families, treatment counsellors, and child welfare workers.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand the root causes of gender-based substance misuse challenges for Indigenous women.
  • Understand and incorporate harm reduction methods and how these can be applied to Indigenous mothers and their families.
  • Gain knowledge of how child welfare services discriminate against Indigenous women and set them up for failure.
  • Develop collaborative relationships between mothers, treatment counsellors and child welfare workers.
  • Lessen or eliminate barriers to treatment and effective child welfare supports.
  • Appreciate the concept of time when it comes to assisting mothers in their healing journeys and meeting the requirements of child welfare.
  • Learn how the Seven Sacred Teachings can be applied to both services and research.
  • Knowledge of Indigenous research methods.

Module 10: Decolonizing Two-Spirit Identities: A Resurgence of Multiple Gender

  • Dates: April 8 and 9, 2021
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Jac Nobiss, MSW
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

Note: Please check back Sept. 11, 2020 for more information.

Module 11: Indigenous land-and-water based practices: Methods for thriving and reconciliation

  • Dates: April 27 and 28, 2021
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Mkomose (Dr. Andre Judge)
  • Location: Remote Circle Process

For generations Indigenous peoples have relied on sophisticated traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to transform their world to ensure intergenerational thriving. These land-based practices correspond to a complex and sophisticated worldview that accounts for moon, sun and seasonal cycles, which guide community activities. This two day workshop will introduce you to foundational concepts of the Anishinaabe worldview related to land- and-water-based learning and offer you strategies to immediately apply these concepts to current and future projects. You will learn to enhance both personal and professional relationships with Indigenous land-and-water-based knowledge that can support your community towards reconciliation. You will also learn to address present day issues surrounding food security, sustainable habitat design, land and water restorations, and climate change.

Learning outcomes:

  • To build an understanding of the foundations of Anishinaabe cosmology.
  • Introduce strategies to engage your community using land-and-water-based traditional ecological knowledge.
  • To generate a greater awareness of the importance of a personal relationship to the environment.
  • Develop knowledge on land-and-water-based habitat design restoration tips and steps.
  • To reinforce a wholistic worldview.

Module 12: Shekon are tenthahtenti’ (She-konh á:-reh tent-hah-tén: ti) He will still come back again. Historic Trauma: Walking with Men as they Journey Back Inside

Since contact, there has been generational trauma and violence directed toward Indigenous men, women and children. In order to achieve generational healing, especially when mainstream society is all around us, it is important for Indigenous people to lead our own healing and wellness. We need to be the mentors when working in tandem with western conventional systems. We need to guide mainstream care providers because they don’t carry the knowledge of what is essential for our wellness or how we deliver care. Often, men aren’t comfortable talking about what’s troubling them inside. They feel they may not have the skills to articulate their feelings or the confidence that people will still accept them once they do. As men, we need to talk about the story that lives within us. We need to use what wounded us to make us stronger. We need to learn how to accept our own story and respond to it in a positive manner. The person will find themselves again through their culture and teachings and generational healing – “He will still come back again.”

Learning Outcomes:

  • To build knowledge on how colonization, residential schools, Indian hospitals, and religious institutions interfered with the development of a kind Indigenous human being.
  • Honoring and validating our combined knowledges & working in tandem with mainstream mental health.
  • An understanding of the Spirit that lives within the Substance.
  • Staying ‘Out of the Way’ as a helper but being available at the same time.
  • Decolonizing educational facilities and hospitals and addressing the importance of Sacred Space within these institutions.
  • Identifying systemic barriers to Indigenous wellness and access to wellness.

Module 13: Land Based Healing Practices

  • Dates: June 10 and 11, 2021
  • Time: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Facilitator: Elder, Tina Armstrong, MSW
  • Location: Circle Room (on the land)

This two day module is steeped in traditional land based knowledge. The Elder will share teachings and practices of the importance of the land in healing practices. During this module participants will be exposed to teachings of plants and medicines. As we sit in Circle, we will be talking about the role of medicines in healing. We will be talking about and sharing the different ceremonies and medicines that help in the healing process. Participants will have a wholistic land based healing experience during this two day module.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn about traditional ceremonies and their application and use in healing processes.
  • Learn how to take the people you work with on the land to find the medicines they need for their healing.
  • Learning about the role of particular medicines in the healing process.

Cancellation and Refund Information

Wilfrid Laurier University reserves the right to cancel a course in which there is insufficient enrolment. In the event of a cancellation, students will be informed and all fees will be refunded.

If for some reason you are unable to start or complete your program, we would be happy to defer your registration for our next Educators' Certificate program, or transfer your registration to another person (e.g. coworker, friend). If a refund is requested, the refund amount will follow the schedule below:

  • Up to 10 days before start of each module: full refund minus a $25 admin fee and applicable credit card charges.
  • One to nine days before start of each module: 50% refund and applicable credit card charges.

Note that no refund of any sort will be given if the university is closed for any reason during your course.

Contact Us:

Raven Morand, Administrative Assistant


Giselle Dias, MSW, Program Coordinator

Office Location: 120 Duke St., Kitchener

Kathy Absolon, MSW, PhD, Director of Centre for Indigegogy


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