Transformative learning through Etuaptmumk: Piluwitahasuwawsuwakon in counsellor education and practice
University of New Brunswick
The Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015a) place a responsibility on governments, educational institutions, and health care professionals to recognize the value of Indigenous healing practices and to gain cultural competencies. Concurrently, professional counsellors have an ethical responsibility to understand and respect the helping practices of Indigenous peoples, while also engaging in actions that support equity, social justice, and inclusion for their clients (CCPA, 2015). Since counsellor education programs continue to be dominated by mainstream, Euro-Canadian theories and practices, this study invited Indigenous Elders and community members to share knowledges and practices that they believed to be appropriate and meaningful for counselling programs, students, and practitioners to learn. This study utilized Etuaptmumk, a Mi’kmaw term for Two-Eyed Seeing, as the guiding principle and theoretical lens (Bartlett, Marshall, & Marshall, 2012). Aboriginal Research (Kenny, 2000) was implemented as the methodology, which consists of four ritualistic phases including (a) Preparation, (b) Engagement, (c) Validation, and (d) Transformation and Renewal. Eight Indigenous Elders and community members contributed their stories, knowledge, and experiences through a series of interviews as three research questions were explored: (a) According to Indigenous Elders and community members, what cultural knowledges and practices are appropriate and meaningful to share in counsellor education programs? (b) How can these knowledges and practices be shared in a respectful and culturally sensitive way? and (c) What learning experiences will assist counselling students and practitioners? Eight themes emerged from this research and eight corresponding Calls to Action were developed for Piluwitahasuwawsuwakon, a Wolastoqey phrase emphasizing actions toward truth and reconciliation, in counsellor education and practice. These eight Calls to Action are intended to be a guide for local counsellor education programs, educators, students, regulatory bodies, and practitioners. In so doing, this research holds the vision of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples walking alongside each other and engaging in a co-learning journey as the strengths of different knowledge systems are recognized, respected, and valued rather than one dominating over another as has been the result of settler colonialism in the Canadian context.