Many young Indigenous people in the province of Manitoba injure themselves each year. SAFE Workers of Tomorrow (SWOT) knows this thanks to the stories and experiences that are shared with us throughout the presentations we deliver. For that reason, we feel it is important to develop and deliver programming to the Indigenous youth of the province, to provide them with enough tools to become active players in changing the perspectives of Indigenous youth, and indeed the entire Indigenous community around the importance of occupational health and safety.
The developer of this initiative (Cree from Shamattawa, Manitoba) is the Indigenous Liaison at SWOT and the idea came to him as a result of being exposed to other forms of cultural integration, and noting how much more effective those presentation styles were when presenting to Aboriginal learners. In personal experiences as a youth, he was not exposed to culture, and was not proud of his own heritage. As an adult, learning about the strengths that are inherent within his Indigenous culture have enabled him to do great things. Once this was realized and other, smaller community initiatives became successful, this application and integration of cultural teachings in all aspects of health and safety seemed natural.
Upone experiencing the delivery of Health and Safety presentations to ABoriginal learners, it was apparent that adapting the presentation slightly to include cultural elements increased the level of engagement during presentations. This small observation was looked into more, partners were approached and the initial experiment of developing an Indigenous Health & Safety presentation for youth was initiated.
We know that this approach is effective because of the feedback that we have received from the groups who have received such a presentation. The youth feel proud of their ancestry, and can now articulate and share those helpful cultural elements to their peers, even if they work in a non-Aboriginal environment. Thus far, the stories have encouraged us to try and develop this resource more fully.