The GNWT launched on Tuesday its new Living Well Together: Indigenous Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Training for government employees and members of the public.

The online, interactive training program was “created in the spirit of reconciliation to provide opportunities for employees to reflect on ways to support reconciliation and decolonization as public servants and as private citizens, both in the workplace and within their communities,” said Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek in a virtual briefing with reporters on Monday.

The training will be mandatory for GNWT employees.

Living Well Together is an effort by the GNWT to fulfill its commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s call to action 57 on educating government employees on Indigenous history, culture and treaty rights; and to articles 14 and 15 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

Replaces ACAT

The program replaces the old Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training (ACAT) that had been in place since 2013, said Krista Carnogursky, manager of diversity and inclusion with the Department of Finance.

A review in 2017 concluded that ACAT had to be updated to provide more focus on the history of colonization, the legacy of residential schools, reconciliation and cultural competence.

The new program’s content was developed in collaboration with the departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Health and Social Services, as well as with federal, territorial and Indigenous organizations, communities and Elders.

Additional support is offered in the training for people who might have direct or indirect experience of residential school, and who could have strong emotional reactions to that content of the modules.

A self-care tab is built into the training that offers employees direct links to help resources and a learners guide that helps employees monitor their emotional responses and provide links to resources.

For managers and supervisors there is a guide with advice on supporting employees doing the training.

In addition, weekly group discussions will be held for employees who want to discuss what they’re learning, said Kyla Kakfwi-Scott, project lead with primary health care reform in HSS.

Take ownership with sensitivity

“Hopefully by the end there’s an understanding as an individual, and as a person who works and lives here and is part of this community, what are my responsibilities now that I know what I know? And how do I carry that through in my life? And in my work?” Kakfwi-Scott said.

The GNWT aims to have the public service complete the training in 12 months and monitoring will be undertaken to ensure that timeline is completed.

Living Well Together is available to the public online.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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