Seeing Oneself



The Seeing Oneself program at the Manitoba Youth Centre targeted youth who had substance abuse issues. The youth completed personality surveys and participated in culturally relevant sessions adapted to each personality type.

They also created artwork at shared personal stories that became story themes in the drug treatment healing manuals. Creating these manuals was a significant part of the treatment process.

Brian MacLeod:

CEO and Director, Strong Heart Teaching Lodge Ltd.: The Seeing Oneself program is a bi-cultural approach on Western contemporary knowledge and research and Aboriginal traditional teachings and culture. And it works with youth who have high personality motives and sensation-seeking for drug use.

The activities that youth have been involved in at the Manitoba Youth Centre have been a lot of art work, moccasin making or medicine pouch making, or poetry.

In the research, you are looking at, you know, over 100 questions trying to distinguish personality groups and alcohol use. But with the manuals you can do a questionnaire, about 18 questions, and you can see which youth fit into which personality group at this time in their life. We asked youth to create artwork and so we put those pictures into the manuals. And all the stories of the different characters we have in the manuals come from the youth themselves 'cause they can identify with the stories.

Some people never knew that they could draw. Never knew what they could accomplish or do something that other people would value so much that they would want to publish it in a booklet that would help others heal and grow. So by going through these exercises that way we begin to understand some of the hot thoughts we have as a result of how our body talks to us.

Learning to see some of the choices you make without actually being consciously aware that you are making those choices is beneficial for anybody to understand themselves. And then we actually teach them through the personality motive; how to cope with that and break the cycles of our thoughts and bring in other thoughts that help us walk the road of the seven teachings.

Working with the seven teachings love, or, humility, courage, respect, honesty, wisdom and truth we all understand them as part of walking in a good life.

Doris Morin:

True North Designs: It uses those teachings in a very practical way, a very hands-on way and a very time-invested way to show kids what those teachings are, how they can incorporate those teachings in their lives.

Brian MacLeod:

CEO and Director, Strong Heart Teaching Lodge Ltd.: The program itself really requires a balance of the methodology, but also a strong balance of traditional knowledge and teaching.

Some of the challenges were more logistics. Not only were we just implementing the program, we were doing the research. So sometimes institutions, they have lockdowns or, you know, it's hard to get the people to come in, co-ordinate all the components of the work together.

When you are doing the sessions with them, it's nice to see the awareness and the new understanding and the bonds that start to develop. But also within the artwork, I've seen people do their own healing out of the artwork. And they have talked about things that have happened to them in their life and how, now, in the way they see themselves, they want to grow and they want to have even career aspirations or they want to do something different.

On-screen Text:

The Seeing Oneself Community Youth Justice Initiative pilot project received funding through the Youth Justice Fund Drug Treatment Component. Funding for this component is provided under the National Anti-Drug Strategy.

For more information about funding under the National Anti-Drug Strategy, please visit

©Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada, represented by Justice Canada, 2011.

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