Innovative Indigenous wholistic practice

By Shannon Pride

The White Owl Native Ancestry Association is an Indigenous agency, based out of Kitchener.

We service the needs of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit youth and their families within the Waterloo, Wellington and Dufferin regions. White Owl offers a variety of supports: one-to-one counselling and therapy, community events, public education and advocacy, to name a few.

We work with clients through a people-centred wholistic approach. When working with individuals we look to care for the whole person and that includes their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Through the work that White Owl does we work to bring people together both through community and through culture. Indigenous peoples living in rural and urban settings can often feel isolated and disconnected from culture and community. The work we do helps to bring people together through cultural teaching, cultural reconnection work and through community gatherings like feasts and crafting circles.

Often times within mental health work and within mainstream agencies, people are shuffled through and their needs can get lost in the myriad of other intersecting issues. Sometimes clients can come in struggling with housing, mental health and trauma. And often times as service providers we only look at problems singularly.

With White Owl we work with people to try and look at the whole picture; it all plays into how we feel and function on a day to day basis. We may start off by looking at the mental health piece and maybe part of the issue is lack of identity, so we look at how we can incorporate culture into this person’s plan to help them strengthen their identity.

We then look at helping them unpack their trauma, maybe we refer them to a Healer, who can look at ways for this person to work though the trauma they have experienced and incorporate culture as a healing tool. Then we look at housing, maybe the person is feeling better and can now fully look at how to work on their housing problem.

This is what is meant by whole person development; if one of our inner pieces is off, it can have a ripple effect and throw off whole our inner balance.

White Owl aims to be wholistic helpers, working with those who are needing supports, a sense of community and a place to gather without judgment.

Shannon Pride is a wholistic practitioner with the White Owl Native Ancestry Association. The “Open Mind” column is sponsored by community partners who are committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. For local mental health resources/information, visit or call 1-844-HERE247.