While Indigenous people make up 3% of the population in Calgary, they account for over 30% of The Mustard Seed’s clients. Colonialism, oppression, discrimination and intergenerational trauma have all contributed to this and made it vital that we offer culturally appropriate supports.
The Mustard Seed’s Indigenous Wellness Program is run by Randi Sager (pictured above), who is Lakota/Nêhiyaw from Okotoks, Alberta and is a member of the Muscowpetung Salteaux Nation in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. Randi has a master's degree in Counselling Psychology and has completed research in Indigenous wellness and healing through cultural engagement, which is implemented in her practice.
The program was developed to ensure culturally appropriate supports are available to help the Indigenous population, who are often subject to intersecting vulnerabilities and marginalization. The program incorporates cultural practices, traditions, and activities into the therapeutic process.
“Clients who have never engaged in their culture before are able to do so in a safe welcoming space within the Indigenous Wellness Program,” says Randi. “The Indigenous Wellness Program promotes wellness and healing through cultural engagement. By doing so, it strengthens one’s sense of community, cultural identity, spirituality and empowerment.”
In addition to individual and group therapy, clients participate in traditional activities, such as:
- Ribbon skirt making
- Beading groups
- Dream catcher making
- Drum making
- Indigenous art group
- Women’s drum group
Since 2019, CIBC has been a faithful supporter of our Indigenous Wellness Program and has generously contributed $40,000 to the program.
“CIBC is proud to support The Mustard Seed's Indigenous Wellness Program in its commitment to ensure that culturally appropriate wellbeing support is available to its clients,” said Jaimie Lickers, Vice-President, Indigenous Markets at CIBC.
“By creating a welcoming, safe environment where traditional activities are offered, The Mustard Seed is helping to build a strong, inclusive community. We look forward to the positive impact this initiative will make.”
CIBC’s support has been vital in allowing us to offer these traditional activities at no cost to participants.
“Because of the generous gift from CIBC we have been able to provide high-quality supplies for clients. Clients are often amazed by the high quality and grateful that these activities and supplies are offered at no cost to them. It is a powerful experience to watch a client be empowered and learn how to create something beautiful,” says Randi.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to temporarily halt in-person programming and has significantly impacted our Indigenous clients’ ability to attend important in-person ceremonies, traditional activities, gatherings, and feasts.
However, despite these challenges Randi is still finding meaningful ways to connect with our Indigenous clients through virtual programming, such as offering online beading.