June 8th 2020
Sherri KellockMy name is Sherri Kellock. I am originally from the Bigstone Cree Nation, on my maternal side, which is situated in Treaty 8 territory, the ancestral and traditional territory of the Cree, Dene, as well as the Métis. I currently reside in the traditional territory of the Treaty 7 people, which includes the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai and Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations and the Métis Nation of Alberta Region 3. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an Edgewalker.
I have worked at the City of Calgary for 21 years. When I started back in 1999, I was an Aboriginal Youth Employment Counsellor, at the Youth Employment Centre, working with Indigenous youth 15-24 years, supporting and assisting them to get back to school, career plan or look for work. For the past 5 years, I have been working in Youth Justice, specifically Youth Probation, as a Youth and Community Indigenous Liaison. What this means is I support Indigenous youth and their families by connecting them to community resources and advocating for services and support where or when needed. I also support Probation Officers by organizing opportunities for them to connect to the Indigenous community and develop relations to increase their cultural knowledge and experiences. I’m also involved on several community committees that address reconciliation injustice and intergenerational trauma and healing. Anything I get involved with has to benefit Indigenous youth in some way.
I have always been passionate about working with and for Indigenous youth. I have always said that Indigenous youth have as much of a right to success as any other youth and feel it is my responsibility to support their goals and to help pave a path to success for them where, and if I can. I was a child of the sixties scoop and grew up not knowing my own cultural identity. I remember being a youth and not feeling like I fit anywhere and also feeling lost. When I reconnected back to my culture in my early 20’s, it was the most healing thing I had done for myself. It gave me pride in who I was and where I was from and purpose in life. I see a lot of Indigenous youth disconnected from their own culture as well. It’s tragic that this disconnection is a direct result of colonization and systems failing them. However, in my many years of working in this field, I have also seen many youth and families re-connect back to their culture, and I see the pride that radiates from their spirits and that makes my heart warm. I know life can be tough, but if you have a cultural foundation, smudge and ceremonies in your life, then you have the Indigenous medicines you need to heal, feel strong, resilient and continue to move forward towards success and happiness. This is what I hope for Indigenous youth, and this is why I do what I do.
Part of my role is to work with non-Indigenous people around truth and reconciliation. This has included implementing a cultural safety protocol in Youth Probation, to ensure Indigenous youth feel culturally safe when involved in youth justice. This includes staff participating in on-going cultural teachings from Elders and community and addressing systemic barriers that exist. I feel that, only by addressing these systemic barriers, real change will happen and be longer lasting for the next generations coming.
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