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Ask Catherine 2 — Meeting Youth Where They’re At


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): The Good Men Project

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/02/18

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 Indigenous troubled youth.

Indigenous youth tend to experience more difficulties in Canadian society than others. One orientation may be to meet those most troubled Indigenous youth where they’re at, as this, probably, can apply to other populations as well.

“This principle of ‘meeting youth where they’re at’ or as we like to refer to as ‘keeping it real’ is fundamental to iHuman’s youth work practice and the overall operation of the agency. Working from this perspective means that our approach is based on relationship,” Broomfield explained, “Being able to appreciate the place a youth is coming from requires creating a space that is safe and non judgmental. When we attune to what a young person needs there is no ego or expectation of the staff person involved — it isn’t about what we might think an appropriate response, action or solution might be, rather what does that young person think needs to be done now.”

The orientation of meeting youth where they’re at simply reflects the needs of troubled young, not pushing too hard and using due diligence to work with them while honoring their background.

Broomfield described some of the methodological orientation. One is asking what happened with the young people in order to garner acceptance of the youth. It is finding out who the young person is and where they’re at, in other words.

“That getting help is sometimes less about the person in need of help and more about the motivation of the person offering it. To act with the ‘keeping it real’ principle, iHuman staff are consistently asking themselves: am I helping because I want to be ‘the hero’; is my help enabling that person; or am I supporting that person to honor their own internal need,” Broomfield described.

It is an approach to help a vulnerable youth population. The use of sensitivity and understanding of the unique contexts of the Indigenous communities within our collective communities.

Broomfield continued, “This approach is a communal approach to helping which is reflective of Indigenous ways of community. Therefore, because we have put the young person in the driver’s seat, the effectiveness of the programs is ultimately in their control.”

She noted how these solutions those built from the ground, i.e., by and for the youth populations who are undergoing their own difficulties. Broomfield proposes this as the source of the success of the efforts.

The interview moved into the prototypical trends of some young people. While, at the same time, I bore in mind the unique experiences of each child or young person.

At the core of the issues iHuman youth experience is the erasure of identity. I’ve mentioned this previously — that the finding of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the genocide of Indigenous culture by the Government of Canada and/or its agents — can trace the systemic issues of trauma that manifest in the present day reality of young people,” Broomfield stated.

The issues are addiction, homelessness, isolation, mental health, and violence. In unison or alone, these, as factors in the life script or history of a young, impact the lifelong trajectory, often for the worse. These can, in turn, exclude people from society.

Broomfield noted that the stories can be both painful and raw. Some of the common narratives are the lack of self-knowledge leading to a void in making a path in life. These are the cases Broomfield honorably deals with and framework that she builds young people’s sense of self once more.

Broomfield concluded, “I was recently at a workshop where the following quote was posted on the wall. I do not know the author, his story or what he might do, however, it was attributed to William Pirar: ‘We are what we know. We are… also what we do not know. If what we know about ourselves — our history, our culture, our national identity — is deformed by absences, denials and incompleteness, then our identity is fragmented. Such a self lacks access both to itself and to the world.'”–Human Rights
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Led by: Scott Douglas JacobsenTo the socio-political Right, a disclaimer; to the socio-political Left, a trigger warning: the subject matter may be disturbing or triggering for some listeners, speakers, or call members. The statistics on international violence against women is disproportionately more than violence against men. In turn, there is violence against women committed by women against women but more often by men against women. It is the statistical difference, which is the basis for the international emphasis on violence against women in multiple spheres rather than localized differences. Wednesday morning, we will speak on violence against women for one hour or so.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. 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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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