Counselling Foundation of Canada

Roger John and Lindsay Delaronde
Roger John, ICCP program advisor and instructor, with ICCP graduate Lindsay Delaronde, who holds a drum created by Tsartlip artist Charles Elliot.

Walking in two worlds

On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, students, professors, elders, family and friends gathered for a feast at First People’s House. They celebrated the graduation of a cohort of 11 students in the Masters in Indigenous Communities Counselling Psychology program (ICCP). Such celebrations illustrate the uniqueness of this program—traditional Indigenous practices are integrated into its core—and they wouldn’t be possible without a generous grant from the Counselling Foundation of Canada. This family foundation, which is the program’s largest external funder, has been supporting these students and their predecessors through every step of their journey, right from the pilot program in 2008. 

Sacred and spiritual dimensions

The “Walking in Two Worlds” grant funds essential program elements such as traditional knowledge, elder support, and Indigenous cultural healing practices.

“The Counselling Foundation of Canada recognized from early on that these elements are not ‘nice to haves’. They have to be there,” says Dr. Anne Marshall, a professor in counselling psychology. These sacred and spiritual dimensions, such as drumming, singing and ceremony, the inclusion of elders from across the province, the opportunity to welcome family and friends to gatherings, and many other elements that incorporate traditional ways, are not covered by regular academic program budgets. But they are critical to the program’s success and are what set the program apart making it the only one of its kind in Canada. 

The X-factor – Indigenous values front and centre

“We’ve had 100% graduation from the program, which is not typical in aboriginal programs,” says Anne. “Students consistently say to me, ‘I feel safe here. I feel that my knowledge, community values are front and centre’. I am convinced that we would not have had the success we’ve had without this funding.”

Of course, the Indigenous focus doesn’t just support students through the program, but provides them with a framework for their current or future careers working with Indigenous communities. The blended Indigenous and western model provides them with the credentials they need for certification by professional bodies and an understanding of what health and wellness means across different communities. Graduates may go on to work in private practice, or in a number of social services positions for bands, non-profits or government agencies. They will also start to address the real shortage of professionals qualified to supervise practicum students and teach at college or undergraduate level. 

Foundation for the future

In helping UVic establish this record of success, the Counselling Foundation of Canada has created a beautiful example of what philanthropy can achieve. With this footing, the ICCP program can seek out other long-term partnerships so it can continue to incorporate traditional knowledge and practices into its curriculum. Program faculty also hope to create scholarships in the future, to reduce barriers to participation. If you would like to help future cohorts of the ICCP program, contact , Development Officer for the Faculty of Education.