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Ask Catherine 4 — Understood: To Be Seen, Heard, and Felt


Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewees: Catherine Broomfield

Numbering: Issue 4: Everyone Has Their Specialty

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: Question Time

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: December 17, 2019

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 776

Keywords: Catherine Broomfield, indigenous, Scott Douglas Jacobsen.

Catherine Broomfield is the Executive Director of iHuman Youth Society. She loves the challenge and excitement of the job, especially with the diversity of the workplace and the people with non-profits. She has worked, in fact, in both the public and the private sectors. Here we talk about being seen, heard, and felt as a universal means of being understood for youth including aboriginal/indigenous youth.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How can the Aboriginal youth feel seen? How can the Aboriginal youth feel heard? How can being seen and heard for the Aboriginal youth with socio-emotional problems help them feel understood?

Catherine Brooomfield: First, I’ll clarify that in the communication and relationships I have, ‘Aboriginal’ has varying levels of acceptance or avoidance for people. So for me, I use ‘Indigenous’ to reflect those young people who self-identify as First Nations, Metis or Inuit. I can share from my observation and what young people tell us about what being ‘seen’ or ‘heard’ makes them feel and that is, that they feel they belong. They feel they have purpose. They feel they have self-worth. They feel they reclaim their identity. I would say that those qualities apply to all of us — when someone listens, truly listens, and acknowledges what is happening for you or what is unique about you — you feel recognized, appreciated.

The beginnings of iHuman are a testament to what can happen when young people are provided a space to be seen and heard — that’s precisely how and why we exist now. The young people who sought out and expressed interest in being part of the ‘gun sculpture’ ( and subsequently mounted their own exhibit called ‘Red Tear’, they felt so validated that they said, you have to create a space where others like us, who don’t usually get a platform to have a voice, can use art as a medium to share what they want to say. Out of that ask, sprang the mission and the philosophy that guides iHuman now. So, feeling seen and heard can profoundly change your self perception, your self talk. Imagine if you’ve only ever been told or felt that you’re ‘useless’ or ‘a burden’. If you come across someone who thinks you have value and can contribute wisdom then you’re perhaps at first going to think that person wants something from you, doesn’t really care about you or wants to exploit you. It takes consistency and repetition, weathering the self sabotage, sticking around until that young person starts to say, ‘huh, perhaps iHuman does see something different in me’. Once you start to hit that point in relationship, then ‘the skies the limit’! The artists and young people at iHuman have so many ideas and solutions. They simply need someone in their corner saying ‘yeah, let’s try that’, ‘how about we do that together’. Once the confidence or success gets flowing anything’s possible after that. If you want to be crass about it — society invests millions into children’s services, incarceration, secured facilities. As a country we can keep rolling forward with that punitive mentality, it’s a narrative many are comfortable with. Or, we can recoup that investment by supporting a young person to not spend their entire life incarcerated at tax payer expense. That young person might go to school, get a job, pay taxes, buy products in the economy, keep their family together — even if they don’t do that and they are on some government assistance, young people at iHuman give back, they volunteer, they support their communities in the best ways they can or are able. That’s a massive outcome and long term impact simply from feeling ‘seen’ or ‘heard’.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Catherine.

License and Copyright


In-Sight Publishing and Question Time by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and Question Time 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and Question Time with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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