CALGARY — It’s usually mentioned that each identify tells a narrative.
For Theodora Warrior, that couldn’t be extra true.
“My identify doesn’t lie,” says Warrior, a Blackfoot member of the Piikani Nation in southern Alberta. “The aim of a warrior shouldn’t be meant for battle. They’re meant for defense and sacrifice for all for the better good.”
Warrior is the primary Indigenous monetary facilitator for Momentum, a Calgary charity devoted to group financial growth.
Jeff Loomis, govt director of Momentum, says it’s dedicated to having a task in reconciliation with Indigenous communities and bringing Warrior onboard ensures a culturally related and supportive surroundings to help in monetary reconciliation.
Warrior views her job as one which empowers others, notably Indigenous households comparable to her personal who skilled poverty on account of the residential college system.
The Fact and Reconciliation Fee report says the colleges amounted to cultural genocide, stripping Indigenous individuals of their language and customs, and has led to persistent unemployment, poverty, poor housing, substance abuse, household violence and unwell well being.
About two years in the past, Warrior attended a cash administration workshop hosted by Momentum, much like one she now teaches, and was requested to write down down a imaginative and prescient for her future.
She had misplaced every thing — her home, job and belongings. She says it was a cycle she had repeated for years, from housed to homeless, employed to jobless, hopeful to disheartened.
Her imaginative and prescient on a chunk of paper, now tucked away in a protected spot, listed 17 targets, together with having a two-bedroom residence, a more healthy psychological state, being debt-free with financial savings and having a gentle job.
Most of these goals got here true.
Warrior is now bringing this system that helped change her life to different Indigenous individuals in Alberta communities. She calls the workshop collection Cash Moccasins.
“Monetary wellness is a lifelong journey,” says Warrior. “Strolling barefoot could make the journey tougher. Moccasins are very sturdy and powerful.”
Enthusiastic about the workshop she attended, Warrior says the knowledge was useful however the facilitator, who was white, lacked an understanding of distinctive limitations confronted by Indigenous individuals.
The facilitator talked about spending $200 on vegetation, nearly the identical quantity Warrior had acquired month-to-month on welfare.
“It had nothing to do with the place we come from, what we actually encounter, what we have now to work with,” says Warrior.
Warrior’s mom and grandmother attended residential faculties.
As a baby, she remembers residing in residences with cockroaches, utilizing meals banks and transferring often, each on and off reserve. Her mom, who has three college levels, usually labored a number of jobs.
Warrior says she believes the repercussions of the residential college system left her mother struggling to search out monetary stability.
As Warrior grew to become an grownup, she additionally had bother staying afloat.
There have been months when she had cash from working within the trucking or hydrovac industries. At one level, she had a five-bedroom home and was financing a brand new car.
However, she says, every thing fell aside in about 9 months when a pal moved out with out paying their share of the payments and work alternatives disappeared.
When searching for a spot to reside, she says she confronted encounters with landlords who hurled racist and prejudicial feedback. Generally, she left showings in tears.
Warrior says she stayed in girls’s shelters and slept in empty residences.
“I’ve been by way of all of it,” she says. “Homeless. Hitchhiking. Meals banks. Counting on the kindness of strangers … the melancholy that comes with it, home violence, alcoholism, dependancy.”
She says she overtly shares her experiences now with these in Cash Moccasins. She remembers one participant who laughed when Warrior advised the category she was in chapter.
“’Who higher to study from than someone who’s been there?’ Warrior recollects telling the girl. ”Being open and weak with them like that drops their guard.“
Warrior retains a continuing reminder of how far she’s come at her desk. Her pc screensaver reveals Warrior trying into the gap together with her sprawling First Nation behind her.
The photograph was taken the day earlier than she misplaced her driver’s licence for consuming. Shortly after that, in 2019, she attended her top notch at Momentum and acquired a job with the charity.
She describes her Cash Moccasins program, which began this yr and explores property, budgeting, banking, credit score and consumerism, as technology altering.
“On this Western world, cash is life. In our world, water is life,” says Warrior.
“This course, these lessons, they provide you one thing to carry that water. They present you that you could save your water, that your water is supposed to be saved for the following technology.”
© 2021 The Canadian Press