Helping to bring substantive change and hope to our communities through social enterpriseWritten by Suzanne Marie
Social Enterprise Business Development for an Organization Helping Women
Through my role as a Volunteer Advisor with CESO, I am offering business development services for the implementation of social enterprise for the Clan Mothers Turtle Lodge located one hour north of Winnipeg, Manitoba on eighty acres of land. This project is built on the vision and passion of the Grandmothers who have dedicated their lives to advancing women’s issues and helping women who have been sexually exploited, controlled and abused.
Clan Mothers Turtle Lodge is a healing lodge that allows women to heal from their traumatic life experiences, get the help they need and learn from an indigenous perspective the matrilineal nature of their history and fill in the pieces that have been missed through colonization and residential schools. Indigenous communities have been traumatized by the ongoing systemic violence against women and children. They are victims of sexual exploitation, human trafficking, racism and unconscionable levels of domestic violence, rape, abduction and murder.
The Grandmothers are helping women take back their place that has traditionally belonged to the women of the tribe in their matrilineal society. Although feminism is a part of the story of women, this is very much embedded in the spiritual reality of the indigenous ways of life.
The Clan Mother’s Turtle Lodge is an indigenous model of healing for the revitalization of our communities. Elder Mae Louise and her daughter, Jamie Goulet, are the creators and main proponents of the Clan Mother Turtle Lodge Inc. and they have built an organization focused on providing midterm to long term care to women who have been victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The services planned will include the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of women in a secluded, safe and supportive environment that utilizes traditional indigenous healing based upon the matriarchal teachings of grandmothers.
This project is exciting because it is built around both traditional teachings and innovation together. On site facilities are planned and architecturally designed to include an education centre, a pathway of hope interpretive centre, eco-cottages and a conference facility, greenhouses for produce and medicinal produce and an indigenous arts and folk craft centre. Programming is planned with partners across Canada who will provide healing, as well as social enterprise activities, to lift women up and help them to become strong in their own capacities to learn and contribute.
My role in this project is to provide business modelling around the social enterprise aspects and facilitation for multiparty engagement for implementation and development. My experience as an entrepreneur, along with my academic education with organizational systems design and project management is helpful for the Grandmothers, consultants at MNP and architects in creating a feasible business plan that will create a sustainable organization that will grow and thrive. In addition, my mediation and facilitation experience helps to bridge the communities and communication that needs to take place for solution finding together as this project moves forward.
I am honoured to have been asked to participate in such a powerful project for women and when meeting with the Grandmothers, it became more clear to me that I am on the right path with helping these women realize their goals to the best of my ability for my part in this project. Their rich background and experience includes not only already having had a healing lodge for eighteen years, but also a “healing spirit and a knowing from experience that only when women take their rightful places as healers, leaders and grandmothers, all walking proud, can families and communities heal.” (Elder Mae Louise, 2016)
Deeply touched and inspired by the passion of these great leaders among us, I left Winnipeg after two full days of immersing in a project that will help women and prevent our granddaughters from experiencing some of the horrors indigenous women have faced in Canada.
There is something shifting, a movement that is taking place in the global domain that is creating timely space for this type of endeavour. We are all talking about the treatment of women and girls on a global scale and it feels like there is movement in the direction needed to create a tone of healing and moving forward for indigenous women. I feel very honoured and blessed to have been invited into the homes of women who are living their legacy and creating a powerful platform for indigenous women of the world.
This is a slideshow of some of the sites in downtown Winnipeg I saw in my tour, the Fort Gary hotel where I stayed, the architect's office and the home of the Elder where we met with the Grandmothers and Jamie:
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Masters Level Educator ♪ Chartered Mediator ♪ Professional Speaker & Published Author ♪ Owner, Peak Conflict Solutions
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