A Veteran Crisis Manager Shares Her Tips for Culturally Sensitive Training
“We’re not dealing with files. We’re dealing with people that we live with.”
For podcast guest Trudy Metcalfe, this challenge is central to her work in crisis management. As a Certified Instructor, she’s responsible for bridging professionals with different responsibilities with the common language of CPI training. As an Inuk, she’s also tasked with bridging the Inuit community’s cultural values to the training process as well.
In this month’s episode of Unrestrained, Metcalfe shares valuable tips for taking a culturally sensitive approach to facilitating training and managing crisis in the workplace. You won’t want to miss this critical conversation—it can help you develop a more inclusive and caring culture of safety in your workplace, no matter what you do for a living.
Making culturally sensitive training relevant empowers an individual to see the benefits in every aspect of their life—not just at work.
Trudy Metcalfe’s experience as a crisis worker has informed her perspective on life—training can be a source of empowerment for individuals to proactively address stressors before they escalate, and keep their cool when a crisis explodes around them. “If there’s a way we could reach everybody . . . just making it available so that people are able to just use it in their everyday life when they’re out on there on the side of the street, or in the grocery store, if they see something happening, they can respond to it in an appropriate manner.”
In her wide-ranging, heartfelt conversation with Unrestrained host Terry Vittone, Metcalfe covers topics including:
- Ways to account for cultural differences in the workplace—even those you might not know about
- Why learning about the cultural experiences of others can help you more constructively address their trauma
- The importance of the train-the-trainer model in translating CPI’s global standard of crisis management to unique settings and communities
- How to cope with secondary trauma as a crisis worker, and why it’s so vital to make time for recovery
- The adverse effects of transgenerational trauma, and the value of a trauma-informed response
- Why org-wide training is essential to ensuring sustainable, effective crisis prevention
Trudy is an Inuk (singular for Inuit) originally from Nain, Nunatsiavut, the northernmost community on the coast of Newfoundland in eastern Canada. All of her career choices have involved working with or for the Inuit community. In her early twenties, Trudy was a crisis intervention worker and performed community outreach for Tungasuvvingat Inuit, one of the Ottawa Inuit Community Centres. From there, she became the general manager of Larga Baffin, a medical boarding home for individuals relocated south to Ottawa for medical services not available to them in the northern territory of Nunavut. After 14 years at Larga Baffin, Trudy left her position because of the effects of post-traumatic stress, brought on by dealing with individuals experiencing intense medical difficulties and trauma. After a brief retirement to ensure her mental well-being, Trudy went to work at the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre. There, in addition to her duties as a parenting program coordinator, she utilizes her status as a CPI Certified Instructor and provides Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training to the organization’s staff.
Full Episode Transcript:
Throughout her life and professional career, she has been a passionate advocate for the Inuit community. During our interview today, we'll talk about Trudy's upbringing and career, including her experience as a CPI Certified Instructor, and all the ways she has worked for and with the Inuit community.
All right. Trudy, to begin today, first of all, good morning.
Trudy: Good morning.
Terry: Good morning. I was so anxious to read the good stuff about you that I didn't greet you! Sorry for that. To begin today, could you tell our listeners about your upbringing? I understand your father was Inuit and he was relocated by the government. Could you talk about how and why that happened and the primary issues facing the community in which you were raised?
Trudy: Yes. So, my father was an Inuk. He passed away about 18 years ago. He was born in a very small community of maybe just—I think it was maybe 7 to 10 families in a place that's now going into the—it's being recognized as a national historic site in Canada in Hebron, Labrador. That was north of Nain. So, when those families were relocated to southern points, some of them were relocated to Nain, others were relocated to other communities in the area.
And my understanding and part of the reason for relocation for a lot of Inuit was, part of it was sovereignty purposes for the government of Canada for northern lands. Part was also when the government made a decision that they're gonna be—well, because of the sovereignty and now we have Inuit living on these lands, the government of Canada became responsible for the Inuit, in a sense, and getting supplies and, I guess, services to all these little communities, people living on the land.
When you're living on the land, like, 70, 80, or 100 years ago, they were outpost camps. So, there might be, you know, three or four families living in one area, and then further along, there might be three or four other families. Inuit were nomads, right? We follow the animals. Hebron was a Moravian missionary camp that was basically run by the Moravian missionaries who came over in the 1700s, I believe it was. And when it became or when it was recognized that—it's hard to figure out why the decision was made to relocate Hebron itself. My thinking is it was very hard to get to, which is part of the reason why people were moved to communities further south.
When my father was relocated, his family, he was 11 years old, and they were relocated to Nain. There were other people relocated to communities like Makkovik, and I'm not sure what other communities along the coast of Labrador. So, he was 11 which would've meant, that would've been probably around—I don't quite know when he was born. I never stop to think about his birth date. So, he died in 2000. He was about 60 years old. So, 50 years before that. So, he was probably born in the 40s and relocated in the 50s.
Terry: And what do you remember about—oh, sorry. Go ahead.
Trudy: No, go ahead. I don't know what I was gonna say.
Terry: Oh. I just wondered what it was like as a girl growing up. What do you remember most about your childhood? What were your favorite things about the environment that you were raised in?
Trudy: So, I was raised in Nain, Labrador. I was actually born in North West River because a lot of these communities also don't have, like, hospitals, for example. There's nowhere for parents to give birth. So, moms would be sent out to wherever the nearest hospital was. In my case, with my birth, my mother was shipped to North West River, which was a little further south. And then we would go back home after I was born, for example.
So, born in North West River, raised in Nain until I was about six and a half, almost seven years old. And even though I was only there for six years, for me, it's always been my home even though I spent more time growing up in northern Newfoundland. When we moved to northern Newfoundland, my mom and dad separated when I was about that age. And I went to be with my mom in her hometown, but I always consider Nain my home.
My greatest memories are from Nain. They're the ones that I remember, I recall. I remember, like, spending time with my grandfather. I remember our dog team, for example. I remember walking to school and, you know, we would get Sesame Street on an old film reel once a week. Our mail was delivered by either airplane like a floatplane type thing or brought in on ships in the summertime.
I remember my mom working at the processing plant. We also owned what would've been the local kind of grocery store, where I would see all these treats and stuff on the shelves, but know that I wasn't allowed to have them because they were for sale. They weren't just for us to go and have, for example.
Terry: Now, that's hard on a kid.
Trudy: Yeah. I remember going to, you know, church on Sundays, being picked up by the, like, Reverend Hatash, who was the minister when I was going up there. And being picked up, like, he had one of the only vehicles in town. He had a Jeep and he would drive around and pick up the kids, let's say, for Sunday school on Sundays. And we also had him so we could go and pick eggs, for example.
My father was the first mayor of Nain. So, he was also part of that. He had a vehicle but the vehicle was a garbage truck. So, going up there, we didn't have a lot of vehicles. More people had Ski‐Doos or dog teams.
Terry: And you had a dog team?
Trudy: Yeah. So, we had a—
Terry: How many dogs is that?
Trudy: I'm not sure but I'm going to guess, most dog teams—I mean, I don't recall exactly because we weren't allowed to—the dogs for dog teams are not pets and they only have one master and that would have been my father.
Terry: I see.
Trudy: So, I'm going to say, it would probably have been maybe 10 to 13 or 14 dogs. And they would be used for hunting, right? So, that's how he would hunt for our food. He would go field‐hunting with the dog teams and being pulled behind the dog teams like the sled. And further on, like, maybe it was like Ski‐Doos, right? We started getting Ski‐Doos, let's say, so the dog teams would be replaced by Ski‐Doos partially. The dog slaughter, right?
There was a period in history where Inuit dog teams were slaughtered. So, that was a way for there to be more control over the Inuit and taking away their means of survival, in a sense, without being dependent on government funding things and stuff like that. But I do recall us having a Ski‐Doo growing up, an old, I think it was a Bombardier, like, the old yellow one with a black stripe on it.
Terry: Oh, sure.
Trudy: So, I remember having that and then pulling our qamutiik (the Inuit dog sled) behind that where we would sit on the sled to go up for rides and stuff like that. We didn't necessarily, as children, go on to hunt that young. But, you know, we do take people who do a lot of subsistence off the land, their children do learn how to hunt at a very young age, meaning as young as, in some cases, five, six, seven years old, and they're learning to hunt.
Terry: And that's happening today?
Terry: Mm‐hmm. Wow.
Trudy: So, kids are out and they're hunting at that age, and it's quite important to the Inuit culture to pass on those traditions, not just because for food, but also it's just a way of life in the north for a lot of people.
Terry: And do you think that there was—I'm wondering about the issues facing communities in Nain. Was there a lot of hardship there for people?
Trudy: I don't know about in Nain itself. Meaning, there was hardship in a lot of the communities just because of the high cost of food. And, you know, a lot of people say, "Well, why don't they just move?" And it's like, "Well, why would we have to move when this is our homes, right?" It's just not right. And we can't just go necessarily to the grocery store to buy something, because the prices are ridiculous. I remember seeing a posting at one point, from Nain itself actually, for a half of a watermelon, it was $54 for a half of a watermelon.
Terry: That says a lot.
Trudy: Yeah. That's just an example. I mean, a case of pop, let's say, for example here in Ottawa, I can buy a case of pop, for Puck's, at least 50 cents a can. And in a lot of northern communities, that price is translating to anywhere from $3 to $5 a can. A case of water, we can go to the store and buy a case of water for 24 bottles for $2 or $3. I've seen prices for the same case of water for $106. So, I mean, the cost of meat. I actually was just looking on Facebook and I saw somebody posted a steak for $71 a steak. But I can go to the grocery store and buy it for maybe $10 or $12, let's say.
Terry: So, because of that transportation and distance, and I'd think probably the opportunism of the people selling it, the prices just go astronomical.
Trudy: Yeah. A lot of it is shipping cost, but it's not that—I mean, yes, it is expensive to ship things up north, especially when you're shipping up by air because it's going up on planes. There are planes that go into the Nain communities pretty much every day. But then, from the
Nain communities, that it had to be shipped further to smaller communities. So, the cost are, some of them are justifiable but not to that extent.
Terry: Right. So, there are some—
Trudy: And it's been a bone of contention for a long time and just goes to the Nutrition North programs and stuff like that to help reduce the cost going to the consumers [Nutrition North Canada (NNC) is a Government of Canada subsidy program launched on
April 1, 2011 to bring healthy food to isolated northern communities]. But it's, yeah, it's way more than what I understand. I was in the north in the summertime, but went up first seven weeks to work. And, you know, I saw the prices firsthand. And I know what it cost here in Ottawa for me to go to the store and buy the same stuff.
Terry: So, there's price gouging going on there for sure.
Trudy: Absolutely, in some cases, yep, most definitely.
Terry: So, okay. And so, I could see why then—and not only because of cultural tradition, but just because of necessity, as you said, subsistence or existence living off the land became a very real and necessary option for lifestyle.
Trudy: Well, lifestyle, plus, I mean, it's something, as Inuit, we crave, you know.
Terry: I see.
Trudy: I crave my food, my country food. Like, I look forward to having caribou. I look forward to having seal or having char. I can go to the grocery store and buy a steak but it's not the same as being able to have caribou. They're different foods. Lots of cultures around the world have different diets and stuff like that. And it's part of our makeup. It's there. It's inside.
Terry: It's ingrained from your earliest memories. I mean, if that's your diet, that’s going to be where you find your taste. It seems very, you know, logical to me. And also, I'm very curious about what those delicacies, for us, what they would taste like?
I'm gonna move here a little bit. Now, you found yourself as you came into adulthood, right away, you started working as a crisis intervention worker. And I'm wondering, what about—if you think about your upbringing, Trudy, was there something about it that made you gravitate to this line of work? Did something uniquely qualify you to step up as a crisis intervention worker when you first entered the work force?
Trudy: It's hard to say. Nothing really directed from my childhood, in a sense. I think, you know, people grow up and they couldn't see, I know in my case, things that you're good at or things that you naturally gravitate towards. I'm very much of a social individual and have a
lot of compassion for people and people's hardships, and being able to kind of appreciate or understand where they're coming from, even though I may not have experienced it myself. But seeing other people who I know, I'm close to, people in my community, and knowing the history, the background, and how people might get to where they are. Having just that natural intuition, I guess, in a sense of how to treat people, how to treat our fellow human beings, not just, you know, in my community but in general.
Terry: I see.
Trudy: And I've always been somebody who almost—I don't wanna say cares too much, because I don't think that's right. I don't think you can care too much for anybody. But being somebody who, I'm going to do what I can to help this person with no expectation of anything in return other than I want to see them have a better life.
Terry: That's lovely, truly. So, when did you first start facilitating CPI's Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training; how and when did that happen and what were your first impressions of it?
Trudy: Well, I think I was certified about, I think it was in April 2017, I was certified for the first time. And actually, it was quite a surprise, the way it happened. I was just told I would find out to go to do the certification. And I thought I was just going into a training program where I was taking a CPI class is what I thought I was doing. And actually, when I got on site, I found out I was being certified to now take this back to my workplace.
So, it was like, that was a bit of a shock for me because I just wasn't expecting it. So, I was certified and then went back to the work after that. I think it was two—I can't remember the days of training, two to four days. I can't recall what the certification training was.
Terry: Four days, usually.
Trudy: So, it's four days, okay. But at the same time, it's something that's right up my alley because it was just more information of how to treat people in certain situation, how to respond to, you know, people in crisis, in a sense, which goes right into everything that I was doing anyway with the work that I was currently doing. But also, it kind of justified the way that I had been doing things pretty much in my other careers where I was a general manager of a medical boarding home with 47 staff under me.
Terry: Let's talk about Larga Baffin. Is that how it's pronounced?
Trudy: I'm sorry?
Terry: Is that Larga Baffin? Is that correct pronunciation?
Terry: Okay. And that's what you're referring to as the general manager, correct?
Trudy: Yes. I was the general manager there. I think I started off with maybe six or seven staff but the company grew very quickly. And after 14 years, we were at 47 staff. And again, just a part of who I am, being inclusive. And also, one thing, the staff [had] to take ownership of their responsibilities and the environment that we were working in; we were taking care of people who were having to travel south for medical services not available to them in the north.
Trudy: I see.
Trudy: So, taking them out of their element, taking them away from their families, taking them away from the culture, taking them away from, you know, their daily lives and routines. Sometimes it could be parents who may be down for medical issues and they would have to leave their children back at home and having all those worries.
And when I say coming south for medical services not available to them in their communities, it's pretty much anything that any of us living in the south would go— anything beyond a walk‐in clinic is what [treatments] people are coming south for. It could be high‐risk pregnancy, it could be cancer treatment, dialysis treatment. It could be that someone may have attempted suicide. So, now they're coming down and they're in hospitals. So, they're taken care of by the medical team at the hospital and stuff but we would house them and transport them to appointments and stuff like that and then feed them throughout their stay.
Some people might only be here for a few days, but other people could be here for months on end. So, you get to know them; they are a part of you. You spend more time with them than you do with your own families at home. And you see them over and over and over again because, let's say, for a cancer patient, throughout the course of their treatment, which could be two or three years, they're going home for a couple of weeks but they're spending more time in the south during their treatment period. And you're living with them. Like, I'm not sleeping in the building overnight but I'm spending all of my days there otherwise and they're just not—we're not dealing with just files, right, or people that come and go. We're dealing with people that we're practically living with. And you get to know their stories and you get to know them as individuals. And, you know, sometimes, well, a lot of times obviously, the medicine and stuff just doesn't work and people are not able to keep up their fights. And we end up losing them to—you know, they may pass away. They make it home and pass away. They may pass away in the south.
So, we have that recurring sense of loss fairly regularly, and it took its toll. It took its toll because, you know, again, I didn't just go into my office and do the paperwork. I was a part of everything in trying to make them feel as much that Larga could be as much of a home for them as possible while they're away from home.
Terry: So then you lasted 14 years there, correct?
Trudy: I was there for 14 years, yes.
Terry: And after that point, I think in your pre‐interview, you said, and because of what you've sent me, because of the effects of post‐traumatic stress that you needed to move on from that environment?
Trudy: That was a part of it. There was also some politics involved.
Terry: I see. Always. (laughter)
Trudy: But then it was after—yeah. But it was within days of no longer being there that I started feeling the effects of post‐traumatic stress because now, all of a sudden, I'm no longer immersed in dealing with a lot of different things going on day to day, not just once a day or twice a day, sometimes three or four times a day, not just with patients but with staff also. I mean, we all have lives away from work, and as much as we try not to bring our lives to work, it's impossible to separate when you walk in that door.
Terry: So true.
Trudy: So, working with staff also, who are also part of the community. Some of them are part of the community. Some of them were, like, not Inuit working there also. But dealing with a lot of trauma. And I'm also the type of person that I'll stop on the side—if something is happening as I'm going along, I'm stopping to respond to something, right? So, kind of the, like, if there's an accident and there's nobody there, there's no help happening, then I'm the one that's jumping out of my vehicle to help while hundreds of people drive by.
So, I don't know what it is but things just kind of happen. I don't want to think I'm a bad omen. But I've happened to be in places where people need immediate assistance and I would be the kind of like, the first person on the scene, so having to do what I could until the emergency responders could get there. And I've witnessed things that are not a part of work but outside of my work also that were very traumatic and never taken the time to take care of myself because it's also, like, I'm needing to get to this place to get to the next one type of thing. And so I never stopped to take care of myself. And then when I did stop, all of a sudden, it was like I was away from my support system. I was away from the people where we were gonna be supporting each other every day throughout all these things.
And then all of a sudden, I have not been around that anymore and taking stock of what had happened over the previous 14 to 20 years of my adult career. And, you know, I've just, first, somewhere in my brain just went to, like, when—started thinking about all the things that I had dealt with, you know, holding a dead baby, witnessing somebody fall nine stories from a building and be the first person on site to respond, coming up on motor vehicle accidents where, you know, I have two or three vehicles in an accident and there's two or three patients in different vehicles, and just being angry at everybody else driving by and nobody stopping to help, and that sort of stuff, right?
So, I started thinking about all these things and, you know, it took its toll. You know, I was fortunate I had a very good doctor. I went in to talk with him and we were able to get—I was able to find a therapist that I was very comfortable with and, you know, took care, I finally took care of myself, in a sense, and got some tools to be able to continue to care for myself. I don't know what the word I'm looking for, but because I was able to take care of myself—
Terry: You've healed.
Trudy: —I'm able to continue caring and taking care of and doing for other people and knowing now when enough is enough for me or when enough might be enough for them.
Terry: I see. So, after you took that break that you needed to from the Larga Baffin home, and then you rested for about five months, and that's when you began, I believe, at Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre. Is that accurate?
Trudy: Yes. Yeah.
Terry: And so, then that's also where you received CPI training, correct?
Trudy: Mm‐hmm, yes.
Terry: Why don't you tell us a little bit about the Centre?
Trudy: Okay. So, the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre has been in operation for about 20 years. We service the Ottawa Inuit community. It's one of two kind of community centers in Ottawa for the Inuit. There's another one that I also worked at in 1997. But at the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre, the name is deceiving because we don't just serve children, we serve families. And the name is being changed to reflect that. Things are happening right now to change the name, to show that we're not just about children. But the primary focus was children or is children.
In order to have healthy strong children growing up to be healthy strong adults, we need healthy strong parents. So, I was working on a couple of different files there, and my files were working with the parents of children who were receiving services at the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre. There are several programs. Like, I don't even know how many programs they have on the go over there anymore, but we have like a day care program, a preschool program, child care program.
We have a Head Start program where kids are learning their culture and language up to the age of about six. And then in the same Centre, we are one of the, I think, the only centre across Canada where children needing to go to junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten, we actually have those kindergarten classes at our Centre where they're learning their language, they're learning their culture, plus they're learning all the regular curriculum required in Ontario.
We have programs for children with all the different ages and stages, like, after school programs for kids from 6 to 13 years old. Then we have other programs for teenagers, and then other programs for our youth, and youth at our centres, youth can go up to 29 years old. For example, it doesn't end at 18 or 19. It goes until 29. Then we have programs for parents. So, we have culture drop‐ins. We have family drop‐ins.
We have selling circles, feeding circles, women support circles, men support circles. We help people navigate any services that they may need to get through in the course of their day or their week or their lifetime type thing like medical services, if there's any social services to, like, children's aid societies, court services, and staff like that. So, we do everything we can to support them on a day‐to‐day basis to see them through whatever their path is at the time to get them to the other end so that they can carry on and lead happier and happier lives.
Terry: All right. Well, let's talk a little bit about CPI training at the Centre. One thing that kind of amazes me is the incredible breadth of audiences that receive CPI training. And I know that there are some unique considerations and cultural sensitivities that someone facilitating CPI training for an Inuit group would do well to consider. Could you talk about what some of those are?
Trudy: Yeah. And I can only speak to the Inuit group itself. But in Canada, we have three indigenous culture, so First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. And the three indigenous cultures have all been impacted or witness of a lot of similar things brought into our communities by actions of, let's say, the government, the schools, the churches and stuff like that over time, so a lot of very similar things, but to keep in mind that they are three distinct cultures. Even though we're all indigenous, we have three distinct cultures.
The Inuit culture has different practices and beliefs and stuff like that than the First
Nation's culture, for example. And I think in the States, First Nations are known as possibly Indians, I'm not sure, and Inuit may be known as Eskimos. So, that's one important thing right there is that in Canada, we are not known as Eskimos. It's actually offensive, or some people take offense to being called Eskimo, because I know there are—like the Alaska, I think you call your Alaskan Inuit, Alaskan Eskimos, maybe. Like, I know that's the way it used to be.
Terry: Well, as a child, I certainly heard the word Eskimo. And Inuit was not something until much later in life that I ever saw in print or heard.
Trudy: Yeah. And I think most people wouldn't even know what Inuit is, because, like, when I was younger, in my teen, like my late teens, when I left home, I was working in the restaurant industry in Mont‐Tremblant. And we would have a lot of American tourists. And if people ask me where I was from or what my background was and I would say Inuit, they would have no idea. And then when I said Eskimo, they knew exactly.
So, that’s just something that it's becoming more well‐known that, you know, we don't refer to ourselves as Eskimos. We refer to ourselves as Inuit. I think it's one of the things— when I was doing the training, and I'm just—and this is I think just me myself, I'm not the type of person that likes to have anybody behind me. I feel uncomfortable if I can't see what's going on behind me, for example.
So, in the indigenous cultures, there's equality in a circle or a semi‐circle, for example. Nobody wants to be at the front of a room or necessarily at the back of, like, we're not lined up behind each other. We stand side by side or sit side by side. That's just a natural way, like, when I set up my room to do my training, it might not be a circle because the tables are rectangular or square. So, what I do, I set up my tables in a U shape.
So, I'm at the front of the class and then I have tables on the side and it just continues as much as possible into a circle but the closest we can get is like a "U" type of view. So, that way, everybody is face to face. There's nobody behind anybody else. And everybody can see what's going on at the front without having to kind of pair around classes or pair around other people. And for me, that's a comfort thing. And my participants have said that they like that setup in a room because it's not like they're having to sit in front—like, if they're the last ones in the class, and then all of a sudden, the only place left is the front row, now they have to come sit in the front row but their personality type is not the type of person who wants to be in the front row, for example. So, it's a lot easier to just be able to go and then sit at a table that's in a U shape because you're not being the center of attention of that.
Terry: Sure, sure.
Trudy: And for me, it's just that comfort thing. I've witnessed too much in my life and I know of too many experiences from other people of not having my back covered. So, I may be able to be against the wall or know that there's nothing behind me. The other thing, too, is recognizing the audience that you're facilitating to. I don't want to be at the front of the class where I'm, first off, more than my participants are. I want to be a part of them. So, I know, with my audience, they're gonna be coming in, you know, with their jeans or comfort shoes as opposed to what some of us might have to wear to the office each day. So, I don't want to put my stuff on the pedestal and be better than I want to be, at least equal to them so that they feel that comfort with me also.
Terry: That makes sense.
Trudy: I'm also delivering to a wide variety of age groups. Like, we have our youth staff who are youth themselves. So, trying to make sure that they can have this comfortable rapport with me and I'm not somebody who's more than them or better than them. I think that's really important. And also, recognizing the different levels that people learn at or different ways that people learn. Some people are very visual. Some people are very by the book type thing. Everything has to be in writing for them. And just being able to—when we start off, because more often than not, I know most of the staff. Not as much now because there's been a big hiring—there's been—oh my goodness.
So, there's been several new staff hired because there's new programs and stuff like that. So now, there are some new faces that I don't know. So, when I go into a room with a group that I don't know, I want to get to know them before I start teaching them, and also they need to get to know me. So, I do like, you know, we do a break‐the‐ice type thing. I want it to be a casual learning experience because I don't want them to feel that they're there under duress, because, yeah, you know what, they're mandated to do this training.
Terry: I understand you made CPI training a requirement there at the Centre.
Trudy: Yes. From the top down.
Terry: And why did you feel it was so important that you made it a requirement?
Trudy: This goes back to my experience as a general manager where, you know, I could send my—so, I could go out or send my supervisors out for training and they all have to come back and now they all have to pass this training on to whoever they're supervising, for example. Things get lost.
They're going to interpret it the way that they learned it. So, it might not necessarily interpret the way—it's going to be different for the individuals that they're supervising. So, what I did, any and all training that I thought was necessary for me to take and my supervisors to take, my thought was that all my staff has to take the same training so that they're all on the same page. They all hear the same information. And throughout the discussion and the courses, then that's when they can kind of, you know, go back and forth with their hashing and rehashing of which way they're interpreting something so that people then all get on the same page.
And not only that, for me to go to the training and now come back and try and train, you know, almost 50 staff, time‐wise and getting everybody trained in a timely manner so that everything is current and relevant to what's happening at the moment as opposed to me taking now 6 to possibly 8 or 10 months to try and train 50 staff, because I had to take so many people out of departments, stuff like that.
Terry: Oh, so just the logistics.
Trudy: And I think it builds ownership that they feel valued. Like, they're getting this training and it's not just for work. A lot of the training, like CPI itself, first aid, all of that sort of stuff, it's all transferrable skills. So, it's not just when you're at work. It's when you're at home, when you're out in the community. It's a part of everything.
Terry: Well said, and an observation that we certainly appreciate and believe in. How important, Trudy, do you think CPI concepts are to—or did they jibe well with this culture of support and safety?
Trudy: I do believe it does because just, again, I can only answer to, like, the people that I'm working with or I've trained or, like, with—when I had my staff doing the CPI at Larga Baffin. They all went through the CPI training. It wasn't through the CPI Institute because I didn't know CPI or NCVI [Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training] existed at the time. But it was through another trainer who came in and did a similar idea, the CPI training, but she focused it on the workplace itself in a more—she does it in a manner where she goes into the workspace. She takes true‐life scenarios and stuff like that from that workplace.
So, it reflected really well with their staff because it wasn't like they were learning things that—you know, it's like you go to school. You do all this education, and science, and geometry, and history, and all that sort of stuff, and you go off and you never use a lot of what you had to learn in school.
Terry: Fair enough.
Trudy: So, the CPI training being focused on the workplace, it's really important. And with us and the way that I do it, I could see it in work right away.
Terry: How do you mean?
Trudy: Hearing conversations. Like, one of the things that we learned at—when I had the training done at Larga Baffin, one of the terms that the facilitator used was talking at the water cooler. If you're talking at the water cooler about somebody, you're not talking to them. You're talking about them. So, one of the tasks that I put my staff to was try and remember when you're talking about somebody, they need to be within earshot. You're not talking about them at the water cooler.
And then, I was in my office one day and my door is always opened. And then the reception area and staff was just outside of that office. And one of the staff who—or some of the staff who had gone to the training, they were having a conversation about another staff person. And then the same staff person just said, "You're talking at the water cooler." And it's like, wow. As soon as she said that, the other two recognized it and say, "Oh, yeah," and just knew that all of a sudden, "Okay. We need to change the way that we do things." And it wasn't that they were necessarily talking with somebody in a negative manner, but having a conversation about somebody who's not there.
Also the de‐escalation portions of things, just understanding that. We deal with a lot of families, you know, who—not families, but individuals who may be having a hard time when they're coming in and they're carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders coming into our space, and anything might trigger them, so recognizing things, being able to respond things in a trauma‐informed way.
We deal with this almost on a daily basis at different levels in our workplaces. If I was an employee going to work and I had an argument at home with my husband, it's not—like I said, I can't just leave that at the door, I'm gonna be walking in and I'm carrying this with me, and then somebody else may do something, and I'm going to turn around and snap at them when it has nothing to do with them.
So, rewiring people that I'm the type of person that I could have an issue with an individual and dealing with that individual who that might be a very—you know, it might not be a very comfortable conversation that I'm having with them, or the way I'm responding to them might—it's directed at them. And then, I could turn to the next individual but leave my feelings and my emotions with the prior incident and not carry it to the next person. So, I've always been that way, being able—if I'm angry at you, I'm not gonna carry the anger that I have towards you to the next person. It has nothing to do with the next person. That's with you.
Terry: You can rationally detach.
Trudy: Yes. That's a very good way of putting it. And that's something that I do try to impress on people that I am working with also and I'm training through CPI. Because people, when we're dealing with stressful situations, we get caught up in it and we need to keep ourselves at a level where we're not escalating the other individual or the other people who are helping us, our team. We're not all escalating because now we're feeling really stressed out with what's going on. And we just need to be able to make sure that we're able to support each other to better support the person that we are taking care of.
Terry: Well said. Well said. So, Trudy, what's happening today in reconciliation between the Canadian government and the Inuit? There's something up there called Orange Shirt Day I think our listeners should know about as well.
Trudy: Yes. I know a little bit about Orange Shirt Day. I believe it's September 30th, the date. I don't quite recall the date. So, to you put everything in a nutshell—
Terry: I don't have anything in front of me either.
Trudy: Yeah. I'm not sure but that's something—yeah. I got attuned it's September 30th.
Trudy: But to put everything kind of in a nutshell, again, from the Inuit perspective, it happened with First Nation, the Métis people also, but I'm more informed on the Inuit portion of it. So, there were what's known as residential schools in Canada back—you know, they started in the 1800s, I believe it was. The last one actually closed in 1996. They were known as Indian residential schools because way back when Inuit were kind of under the same umbrella as First Nations even though we were distinct, and we were separate; we lived in different lands and stuff like that.
So, when it comes to residential schools, what happens is the government of Canada would go into communities and take the children, take them away to send them off to school for whatever the school year might be. And they could be as young as five years old. So, if you have children of your own, to put yourself in our communities' footsteps, I have a four‐year‐old granddaughter, actually. So, she's turning five in February, which means—
Trudy: Thank you. She's so sweet.
Terry: And you are her titi, is that right?
Trudy: Yes, she calls me Titi.
Terry: That's nice.
Trudy: I don't feel like I'm old enough to be a granny or a grandma. So, the name does it all.
Terry: I see.
Trudy: So, she's four years old and she's actually in junior kindergarten. You can start junior kindergarten, full days, in, I think—across Canada, but definitely in Ontario—if you turn four before the end of the year, for example. So, she's in junior kindergarten. After this, she would go to senior kindergarten and then grades, you know, one through—right on through high school, university, or whatever.
So, if we were living in the arctic 50 years ago or, you know, 60 years, anywhere between, like, 1996. What's that, 22 years ago? Or living somewhere with more remote indigenous communities, the government would come in and take her, send her off to residential school. And she could be gone then for—she will be gone for two or three months, possibly come home for Christmas, if I could afford to bring her home if I was her mother. She would then go back after Christmas and be gone until May or June, and then come home for the summer.
Terry: Oh, what a horrible policy.
Trudy: It was by no choice—
Terry: Oh my god.
Trudy: —terrible, and no choice to the families. There are stories of kids who when the boats and the planes and the cars would come to take them from their families, some of the older kids would run away. So, they would go and hide, for example, so they wouldn't be taken away that day, or the parents might hide them.
So then, if that was happening, then plans were made, let's say, for example, if it was my father who was to go off again for the next year at school, when they came in to take him out of the community and he ran away, then my grandfather might be told that if your son is not here to go back to school with us by tomorrow, you're going to jail.
So, it became an impossible decision, right, because there might be other people that my grandfather needs to take care of at home, younger siblings or, you know, he needs to take care of whatever else there has to happen. So, there was no choice but send the child away or go to jail yourself, for example.
Terry: What a destructive policy.
Trudy: Very, very much so. The idea behind the whole residential school, I feel myself getting worked up, but that's okay. It was a coined phrase, "to take the Indian out of the child." So, they were trying to, you know, take away our language, take away our culture. They would cut our hair. If we spoke our language, we would be punished. Food was withheld, for example, or like, meager rations.
They were almost like labor camps in a way. And then the family is like—even the siblings would be separated from each other. So, you might not see your siblings throughout the school year, but you know that they're there somewhere. There was a lot of abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse. This number might shock you: so, 6,000 children died in residential schools through various means.
There would be graveyards on the lands where these children went. The ones who passed away would be buried and not necessarily marked. Like, we don't know who's in these graves.
Terry: And so what, the parents would just be then notified that their child had passed away and was buried somewhere on the yard of the school?
Trudy: They might be notified. They might not know until it was time for the kids to go back home and their child didn't show up. And then they might know then.
Terry: And this is not 100 years ago. This is just recently as—I'm just even ashamed to repeat it.
Trudy: The last one closed in 1996.
Terry: Okay. All right.
Trudy: Yeah, so 22 years ago. My youngest daughter is 24.
Terry: I'm sorry that you experienced that.
Trudy: So, the last one was shut down two years before she was born.
Terry: I'm sorry that you had to see that.
Trudy: Yeah. There's ripple effects, right? There's generational trauma and stuff like that. We're still feeling the impacts today. So, that's just one thing. That's only the residential schools. I mean, there's so many more other things that had happened like the dog slaughter, in our case, where the government went into the communities and killed all the dog teams. So, like I mentioned it earlier, now it cuts off our means of being able to go out and hunt for our food; now we've become dependent on the government to give us food.
And in some cases, you know, if it was, like, let's say, the women in the community and they needed to go and get, let's say, a bag of flour, a bag of sugar or something like this, then they might get that but only if they traded sexual favors for it, for example.
And that's like I said, very brief on residential schools; there's been so much impact and ongoing impact. And, you know, as communities and as individuals within the communities, there's a lot happening when we are trying to heal our communities and bring up our children so that they're not gonna be feeling the impacts as much as that, say, that I may have felt with what happened to my father.
I mean, there's a certain amount of thing that—so they passed onto me based on how the parent had need, and then it's up to me to carry on what he went through or say, "You know what, no, it ends with me. I'm not going to let my children feel the impacts of this." So, educating them, educating myself, teaching them, they need to know the history. We all need to know the history of what happened because with the way that my father was up until he passed away 18 years ago, he had issues with alcohol. I mean, he was a highlyfunctioning alcoholic, but there were issues, for sure. And, you know, me being younger at the time and not being as nearly as wise as I might be now, I'm not wise‐wise but I do know a bit more now than I knew back then, being angry at my father because he was an alcoholic and going to him and having a pretty heated discussion with him, angry discussion, it's like, "Why are you always drinking? Why are you always drunk?" And his response to me at the time was, "So I don't remember." And then my response was like, "What do you mean, 'So you don't remember'?" and then him not being able to say anything.
And, you know, within a couple of years of him passing away, all of this stuff came out. We had no idea. I had no idea of the hazing that my father went through because he couldn't talk about it. He didn't talk about it. And he wouldn't talk about it because he didn't want us to know what he went through. It was shame. It was embarrassment. There were so many things at the same time.
Terry: His alcoholism was self‐medication from the horrific trauma he experienced?
Trudy: Yes. But at the same time, he got the education, which he also appreciated, but at what extent, at what cost, right? He didn't teach us our language because if he spoke his language as a child at a residential school, he would be beaten or, you know, there would be some sort of a punishment. So, he never taught us our language. It goes on and on and on, and that's just impacts of residential school. There's impacts of the TB ships. There's impacts of the dog slaughter. There is impacts of relocation where they were, you know, where in my father's case, and actually, I won't use my father. I'll use another case that I know of.
I did an article on it when I did a culture industries training program almost 30 years ago, and I know the lady who I did the article on. So, it was relocation. So, another thing that happened in Canada for sovereignty again was, like I said, the government went in and they went in and made great promises to some families and stuff like that about bringing them to other lands and setting up outpost camps and stuff like that. Better hunting. There was food available or this sort of thing.
And they could go and try it out for a year. If they didn't like, they would be brought back to their original community, to be with their families again. And the promise of good food and stuff like that, right, plentiful hunting grounds and stuff like that. And it turned out that all of the stuff, so much of it wasn't true. And what was happening is they were picking people up and they were taking them and relocating them to other communities. But literally just bringing them up, let's say, you know, on a boat and dropping them off on the beach in an area where, like, you know, you'd be on the tree line. [But] there's no trees and there's no shelters and stuff like that. And there might not be any food, like any animals around that they can hunt.
And what also happened, and this is really, really—like, I know all these families. I've been to these communities. I've taken care of their descendants and stuff like that. So, the government might drop off a father in one area and then take the mother and child to another area so they would be separated en route.
Terry: That's outrageous.
Trudy: Yeah. And then, the other thing that would happen is, like, this promise stuff, "Well, if it doesn't work out, then we'll bring you back to your homeland, you know, in a year or something like that." Some of them have never been back to their homeland and had never seen their family since.
Tuberculosis, tuberculosis was brought to the north. It wasn't something that was there. It was brought to the north by, you know, whalers and stuff like that. And then a lot of Inuit contracted tuberculosis. So, in order to be treated for tuberculosis, you need to be sent to the south.
So, ships would go into communities. People would go on to be tested. If you were found to have tuberculosis, then you were shipped out and possibly sent down to asylums in the south. You may die in the south. Your body was never returned.
I know another person actually from my home community who's still alive, a very wellknown artist whose father was a part of this. He found his father's body maybe four or five years ago.
Terry: Oh my.
Trudy: And his father died when he was a child from tuberculosis but never knew where he was buried. There are still families who don't know where their family member is, where their bodies might be, because documents were not, you know, good documents weren't kept. I think one of the sanatoriums had a fire, so a lot of the documentation were destroyed, which, you know, that's nobody's fault. But even with that, there was just so much disregard, so much disregard that we weren't treated as people. You know, Inuit, we're put in sideshows in the museums and put on display around the world and stuff like that. You know, we're people. Inuit literally means the people.
Terry: Yes, yeah. Okay. Well, thank you so much for sharing that with us, Trudy. Today, to close, let's go to something that we can embrace. And it's something that we can celebrate about your culture. I understand that you are an indigenous Canadian master chef. That is a title that has been conferred upon you. Could you talk about some of the favorite dishes that might tempt our listeners or that are particular to the Inuit?
Trudy: So, our foods, the animals that we hunt, the animals and fish that we hunt and catch, we refer to them as country food. So, caribou, arctic char, seal, narwhal, plants—
Trudy: —scallops. Narwhal, yes, I went narwhal‐hunting last summer in Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut. Terry: They have a horn, don't they, the narwhal?
Trudy: Yes, the unicorn horn, the unicorn of the sea. So, and I didn't grow up hunting this stuff. Like I said, I left northern Labrador when I was six years old. So, I do remember my father going out hunting with my grandfather and bringing home a seal and stuff like that, but I wasn't there at an age where I could do the hunting. So, I only started that myself within the last couple of years.
I did go narwhal‐hunting at Qikiqtarjuaq last year. And this past summer, I spent several weeks in Nunavut also and I went seal‐hunting for the first time and arctic‐char‐fishing for the first time.
Terry: Oh, it must have been a blast.
Trudy: Oh. I just beam inside when I think about it because it was like something that was a part of me that I had never done but I always wanted to do. And I've been fortunate enough that I had that opportunity in the last couple of years. And I have good friends in these communities that, you know, take me in and take me out. I can't even describe how good—how closely connected I am with them.
And actually, here's the other thing, too. So these people that I talk about who are my friends that I go and visit and stay with, they are patients or family members of patients from Larga Baffin. One family in particular that I'm talking about that I went narwhalhunting with last year, I met them when they were coming to Larga because their daughter had a brain tumor. She passed away in 2014, and she was 14 years old. But they were coming for the three years prior for her treatments for the brain tumor. And, you know, I just got to know them and really connected with her and her parents and they're, like, good friends.
So, I would go to their—I just went there and it's like to visit. People go south for vacation.
I go north for vacation. So, they took me, I went narwhal‐hunting for the first time ever. And it was like, I don't know, I can go on and on.
Terry: Okay. And, well, let's—go ahead.
Trudy: So, what I do is I serve that country food. When I do catering—I don't consider myself a chef, first of all. I always consider myself—I've never had any formal training. I cook at home and I've always just cooked at home since I was a child. But everybody tells me, and I'm finally accepting it that, yeah, I do do good food. I know good food. Because I am in Ottawa and I'm still connected with my community and with what goes on here, when I started what I would call, it's catering, meaning, yeah, I'm catering to people. I'm cooking for the masses. My first party was for 500 people. I had never catered before and all of a sudden, I'm cooking for 500 people.
So, I will only cater events where I'm talking about promoting or they are somehow involved or being a part of the Inuit community or Inuit culture in a way of education or something like that. I'm not going to go and cater another event that has nothing to do with Inuit. I don't do it as a job. I do it as an educational experience and to share the food, to share our food so that, you know, one day, you may be able to go to the store and buy caribou. Right now you can't. You have to order it from the north, from hunters and trappers and stuff like that. You can go and buy arctic chars, still, but it's farmed arctic char which is very different than the fresh‐caught arctic char that I fished for last year or this past summer.
So, yeah, I've done some pretty significant events. And in the last two or three years, it's because of all the stuff that's going on and all these residential schools and through the reconciliation and stuff like that, there's a lot of indigenous events going on. And to be culturally appropriate, they can't have non‐indigenous people out there catering these events. So, they have reached out to the communities. And I am one of the only Inuit chefs in southern Canada, like, all across, the south pretty much.
In Ottawa, there's a lot of stuff going on here. We are a government town. We are where parliament is, right? I've done a lot of stuff on Parliament Hill itself. And then, you know, last year, Canada turned 150 years old. And there is this big event on the Hill for it called the Taste of the North, and I worked with them to feed these 7,000 people.
I didn't necessarily do all the cooking, but I got all the food down here. I met with the chef who was making some of the dishes and stuff like that to, you know, talk to them about how to serve it. And I also did cooking demonstrations with Vikram Vij. And, you know, this past summer, well, we have the Indigenous Summer Solstice every summer here in Ottawa. And last year, I was one of the feature chefs for that, and we fed $3,000 in a couple of days—or 3,000 people, I mean, over the course of a couple of days.
So, people are becoming more and more aware of the indigenous cultures through these events. And because of truth and reconciliation, which happened through Murray Sinclair, there's this whole movement now for truth and reconciliation with the indigenous people. And we're right on the cusp of that. And being a part of it is really exciting.
You know, one of the things that happened at the Hill last year is a family came up. A mom came up and she had three children with her. And, you know, she was trying to tell them that it was a beef stew that they're having. She didn't want to tell them it was caribou because she figured they wouldn't eat, and she wanted them to eat.
So, I stood there just like, "No, it's not beef stew. I'm not gonna tell them it's beef stew.
You're lying. You're here to learn. This is a part of a learning experience. It's caribou stew. It's better than beef stew." The kids tried it and they kept coming back for more. And I think she got the idea that, yeah, you're taking something away from me, you know. Don't take away a part of who I am, what my makeup is. I wouldn't take it away from you. Don't continue doing what was done to us for the last 100 years. You know, just one‐on‐one conversations like that, right, educate one person at a time.
Terry: So, incremental progress in the reconciliation is what you're a part of and a light there for in the community.
Trudy: Yes. Yes.
Terry: Well, that's a great thought to close with today unless you have a final thought you'd like to share with us today, Trudy.
Trudy: No, but I appreciate you taking the interest and reaching out to me. And I feel really good about the CPI program. I think it's something that's really important. And if there is a way that we could reach everybody who deals with anybody, and we all deal with people in our everyday lives, just learning something and making it available so that people are able to do it, just use it in their everyday life when they're out there on the side of the street or in the grocery store and they see something happening, they can respond to it in an appropriate matter.