Indigenous Wise Practices


  • Simrit Birk
  • Hannah Cho
  • Levi Duong
  • Hardeep Gill
  • Sim Kooner



Indigenous, Elders, Wise Practices, cultural safety, children and youth mental health (CYMH)


The Indigenous Wise Practices research study emerged for the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to understand the journeys of Child Youth and Mental Health (CYMH) clinicians in integrating Indigenous Wise Practices and culturally safe approaches in their work with Indigenous clients. Through this research, MCFD intended to explore the areas in which additional support could be provided on structural levels, including policy changes, for CYMH clinicians to seamlessly integrate Indigenous Wise Practices and culturally safe approaches. Moreover, this research study anticipated discovering which Indigenous Wise Practices are currently being implemented in the practices of CYMH clinicians. This research study aimed to explore the various barriers, gaps, and challenges that hinder the ability of clinicians to integrate such practices in their interactions with Indigenous clients.

In this final report, there will be an introduction to discuss the goals and purpose of this research study. The research study and the methodology were guided by trauma-informed, strengths-based, and decolonization theories. Although the report provides a more thorough explanation, this research study utilized non-probability research methods inducing selective and convenience sampling methods. Indigenous Elders and CYMH clinicians were interviewed to gain in-depth insight regarding the most effective practices with Indigenous children, youth, and families. Through these interviews, student researcher’s derived similar themes that emerged from Elders and clinicians. The meeting with the Elders offered five key themes including, 1) The holistic understanding of self, 2) Listen to understand, 3) Creating a safe space, 4) The Medicine Wheel, and 5) Spirituality and ceremony. Moreover, the clinician interviews provided nine themes including, 1) Clinicians’ understanding of Indigenous Wise Practices, 2) Journey towards incorporating Indigenous Wise Practices, 3) Clinicians’ willingness to learn and remain open-minded, 4) Cultivating whole system relationships, 5) Time and patience for fostering a genuine connection, 6) Barriers in relationship building with Indigenous communities, 7) Indigenous-led Service Delivery that brings Change to Practices and Policies, 8) The need to increase culturally sensitive practices, and 9) Acknowledgement of past and current harm created by the system. In this research study, it was discovered that developing meaningful relationships with no time constraints and increasing Indigenous-led services is a pertinent practice that should be incorporated largely into the MCFD services. These findings were explored in the context of the literature utilized to support the development of this research study. The limitations of this research study included a small sample size with a discredited ability to generalize the findings, time constraints for clinician interviews and circle meetings, and the strictly virtual setting of this study. The final section explores implications for future areas of research, policy implementation, and changes in practice.