Inspiring Cultural Connections: How Employees Impact Each Other and our Clients – Part 2

Wood’s Homes has been working with Indigenous clients for several decades and today more than 70% of the young people in our Foster Care Network are Indigenous. We teach them how to manage their mental health, while also helping them to reconnect with their culture and identity because we know that is a vital part of their healing journey.

Our Indigenous staff help guide our work and often, their teachings are based on personal experience. Cheryl Bobb, a Cree, and longtime Foster Care Support Worker is a dedicated advocate for Indigenous youth (see Part 1). As a young girl taken into foster care, Cheryl says her opportunities to engage in cultural practices faded away. Her “cherish connections with my people” were severed.

Today, her commitment to ensuring that every Indigenous child served by Wood’s Homes remains connected to their culture speaks volumes about her embodiment of our agency’s values. Her dedication and impact ripples through her colleagues, inspiring them to learn, share, and build a stronger, more inclusive community. Cheryl’s story and teachings serve as a powerful reminder that cultural connections are essential for every child, empowering them to take pride in their heritage to build a brighter future.

As a longstanding social service organization, Wood’s Homes is aware we have much to learn in our work with Indigenous people in this community. We are proud to count on the invaluable guidance from Indigenous Nations, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, leaders, families, communities, and our employees. We have learned how to integrate and translate cultural and clinical practices and value culturally responsive practice as treatment and intervention.

Part of the agency’s work includes the creation and implementation of an Indigenous Allyship Toolkit as an efficient and accessible resource for all staff. A collaborative effort, this publication is widely utilized by every program of our organization with staff re-proclaiming and implementing their personal and program commitments every year. As an agency, we understand the importance of knowledge-sharing so that all staff recognize, understand, and appreciate Indigenous culture, protocols and ceremonies.

Following the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we are pleased to celebrate the impact that Indigenous staff have on our learning journey and in particular the contributions of Cheryl Bobb. What follows are quotes from her colleagues.

  • “As team members, we have actively engaged in cultural experiences, having learned about smudging and medicine picking, which has enriched our interactions with Indigenous clients.”
  • “Cheryl’s teachings extend beyond words. She has shared the wisdom of the 7 sacred teachings, providing wooden hearts bearing these teachings to her colleagues. These daily reminders guide the team, fostering a stronger sense of community and unity.”
  • “Cheryl’s commitment aligns with Wood’s Homes’ values, nurturing connections to culture and fostering a sense of belonging among Indigenous children. Through her dedication, Indigenous children have become proud of their identities, actively participating in cultural events, and learning their languages.”
  • “The Family Support Network has directly benefited from Cheryl’s knowledge-sharing. Families are now seen as experts in creating individualized plans that maintain and respect their cultures.”