Towards Reconciliation: A tipsheet for working supportively with Indigenous clients

woman holds childs hand

Becoming fully competent in working in the spirit of reconciliation is a process. This tip sheet is intended to provide you with ideas to think about and for you, your colleagues and your organization to work towards over time.


1) I know something about the territory and Indigenous communities where I work and live, including the history of white settlers and colonization in this area.

2) I know the land acknowledgement recognized by the Indigenous community where I work and live.

3) I know some Elders/knowledge keepers and have learned about some of the traditional ceremonies used in my community.

Possible activity: Invite an Elder/knowledge keeper to speak about the history of the Indigenous peoples of your region at a staff meeting or your organization’s next Annual General Meeting

4) Our organization is actively working to build trust with Indigenous communities by attending community social events.


1) The space where I meet with clients includes art by and/or images of Indigenous women.

2) A written land acknowledgement is posted in this space.

Possible activity: Work with community Elders/knowledge keepers to develop a land acknowledgement that is appropriate for your geographic region and that also speaks specifically to violence against Indigenous women

3) Our organization provides what women need for their traditional ceremonies (eg. eagle feather, sage, space for smudging), including a designated space where those medicines can be used.

4) We work with community Elders/knowledge keepers when Indigenous women ask for their support.

5) Our intake process includes asking women whether they wish to identify as Indigenous, First Nation, Inuit or Metis. We revisit this question after we have worked with a woman and built trust, in case she may not have been ready to disclose this information initially.

6) Our organization does targeted outreach to the Indigenous community when looking for Board of Directors members or staff.

7) Our organization includes learning about the colonial history of Canada as well as current efforts towards reconciliation as part of our ongoing training.

Possible activity: Work with the Indigenous communities in your area to create a regional map that shows places of historic importance (positive and negative) as well as current community resources and services and places of safety for Indigenous women and their children.

8) Our organization is familiar with “Walking Together: Ontario’s long-term strategy to end violence against Indigenous women


1) I am learning about the history of residential schools and colonization and of violence against Indigenous women.

Possible activities:

2) I am learning about traditional Indigenous healing processes and strategies.

3) I am familiar with Indigenous-specific programs and services in my community and have a working relationship with them so I can make warm referrals when appropriate.

4) I pay close attention to my tone, word choices and my own role in the colonial system when I work with Indigenous women.

5) I can facilitate a connection to an Elder/knowledge keeper for Indigenous clients if they request this.

6) If an Indigenous client is involved with child protection services, I can inform her about the Indigenous child welfare agency in her community.

7) I am familiar with and can refer Indigenous clients to circle mediations and other community-based dispute resolution strategies if they are interested.

Luke’s Place summer law student Angela Nagy was responsible for much of the research that supports this resource.