Gathering Our Medicine




Attachment is the pursuit and preservation of proximity to those to whom we are attached (Neufeld G. a., 2004). It is essential! It is our priority as social creatures. We are driven to maintain closeness with those to whom we are attached to. We only have to reflect on how we feel at the loss of a loved one (Ashenburg, 2002). Even food does not appeal to us during our deep period of grieving. We feel lost and without bearings. 

Attachment is really just a scientific word for relationship that was first articulated by John Bowlby, often referred to as the father of attachment theory. Indigenous people did not have to discuss such matters as we were/are innately relational and in the long ago we lived in such a way that our relationship needs were provided for through our culture (Cajete, 1994). Togetherness encompasses the natural, metaphysical, spiritual world in which everything carries a life force and can provide a sense of continuity and togetherness. It has not been until now since the decimation of culture due to colonization and the trauma our people have endured that we need to begin to find a language to discuss that which was never meant to be conscious in the first place. 

The model of attachment we refer to in this program is the synthesis of Dr. Gordon Neufeld’s 6 Stages of Development.


There is a lot of talk about resilience and there have been decades of research on the topic. A quick Google search will turn up more information on the topic than can be digested. Longitudinal studies done over decades have been conclusive. 

For resilience to be developed a youth needs a safe emotional connection to at least one caring adult, and it does not have to be their parent! Resilience is defined as the capacity to bounce back to optimal functioning after a stressful event (Neufeld G. , Play and Emotion, 2017). This capacity must be preserved and developed during childhood. It can be compromised but it can also be recovered. 

Resilience is essential for a fulfilling life. Ritual is a sacred and culturally appropriate way to preserve and recovery resilience. Our life way as Indigenous people ensured resilience. Our rituals and rites of passage protected time for relationship, emotional expression, play, creativity, a sense of safety and connection to the great mystery (Cajete, 1994). We must bring these things back not just during ceremony but in our day-to-day lives. Each day is sacred and time for what is most important must be protected through ritual.


Feelings are the conscious experience of our emotions (De Waal, 2009). Feelings and emotions are different. We all have emotions but not all of us feel our emotions (Neufeld G. , Play and Emotion, 2017). Especially during times of stress. Feelings interfere with functioning and the brain has an amazing mechanism for numbing feelings out during times of stress so we can survive. However, it is essential we repair our capacity to feel. 

Emotions are meant to move us, emotions have work to do but can only serve their purpose if they can be consciously felt. Feeling emotions is a privilege and the capacity to tolerate vulnerable emotions must be preserved and sometimes recovered. Stress decreases our ability to feel and for those of us who have suffered in life, especially early on, are at risk of losing our ability to feel which is necessary for resilience and the capacity to bounce back. Rituals have the capacity to recover and facilitate expression of the emotions necessary for healing and resilience. Tears are the main ingredient in healing.

Place-Based Knowledge

Indigenous ways of knowing and being are born out of the land base a particular tribe, family, or community originates. This means that knowledges and ways of being have been time tested since long ago, through lived and sensed experience, close observation of patterns in nature, the animals, weather patterns, astronomy — and includes the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual development of people (Cajete, 1994). 

Further, Indigenous peoples are characterized by an oral tradition with records being kept orally by knowledge keepers and passed on by stories. Nothing was written down. Some universal themes can be tracked across cultures, however, depending on where you are located geographically practices will vary making it impossible to use a one size fits all approach. 

The culture is diverse, rich, time tested, and complex. The diversity of Indigenous peoples alone in the province of British Columbia is vast. British Columbia is home to 203 First Nations communities and an amazing diversity of Indigenous languages; approximately 60% of the First Peoples’ languages of Canada are spoken in BC. The range of cultural practices are diverse not only from community to community, but also from family to family within those communities.


Relationality, inclusivity, and reciprocity are universal values found throughout Indigenous cultures worldwide, for reasons rooted in continuity of life and survival. There is a purpose for everyone and everything. Differences and atypical characteristics in-regards to gender, sexuality, developmental differences, and gifts were celebrated and nurtured in the long ago. 

This program has been designed to be universally accessibly, non-prescriptive and non-deterministic. It is rooted in knowledge and evidence regarding the universal human needs of attachment, resilience and emotion and therefore highly customizable (Smith, 2019) (Savage, 2020).

Have Questions? 

Send us a message and we will be happy to assist you!