A partnership with the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre is making counselling services with an Indigenous worldview more available in the Border City.

Tammy Blyan who had to pivot her services online over the COVID months is now working out of the Elders room at the Centre. Blyan operates under the name Sage Counselling and Wellness.

While she will continue online services, the Elders room at the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre offers that in-person option to meet people where they are at. She says it creates that calming atmosphere where clients feel safe and welcomed. The Indigenous Counsellor says she named her company Sage because of the healing, calming medicine that the smudging process provides.

“What we know about the intergenerational trauma and how we have a response to that. Our bodies have a natural response of fight, flight, freeze response to trauma. The first thing we need to do is teach our bodies to calm. Before we can do any work, we need to know that we can be in a safe space.”

Blyan did her Masters at the University of Calgary and focussed on Indigenous Counselling. The process allowed her to develop a few programs with the Lloydminster Public School Division which included a Talking Circles group.

“We started bringing Indigenous issues forward for conversation, acknowledging and recognizing that Indigenous issues are not just Indigenous issues, they are Canadian issues. When we look at the Treaties, there are two sides of the Treaties. We want to be able to acknowledge both sides of those Treaties and say that we all have a part in this. We are all Treaty people.”

Blyan posits that we need to bring this forward to start healing and reconciliation as Canadians. She is open to presenting and sharing about an Indigenous worldview in the healing process while recognizing that she will meet people and listen to them where they are at.

“The Indigenous worldview, it may resonate for non-Indigenous people, but it also may not resonate for Indigenous people. So when you are working with somebody, it’s about honouring who they are. Honouring their story. Honouring what that looks like and really being in a space with them, where I want to hear you.”

Blyan says it means she can’t come in with preconceived ideas about people.

Her professional background includes work in Children Services with both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Her work in the Human Services field also has a stint at the Native Friendship Centre while she was pursuing her Bachelor’s in Social Work.

Blyan sees the advent of Sage Counselling and Wellness as a new chapter opening in a world that has changed over the COVID months, and culminating with the greater awareness of the legacy of Residential Schools.

“For my non-Indigenous brothers and sisters, what that feels like for them. The betrayal that they feel, having been lied to. Having been taught a story that wasn’t accurate. Having been raised naive or ignorant on these issues and then learning this was happening to Canadian children. This was happening to Canadian children in my backyard. It is 2021 and you never told me this. I also look at my Indigenous people. This ancestral wound has surfaced for healing.”

Blyan will look to offer mental health supports for all people to have these conversations in a safe space.