Illustration by Kelaena Maude
By Sebastien Rioux

In August of last year, Mount Royal University’s Institute for Community Prosperity reached out to Newo to see if we would be interested in being a community partner to a student fellow from their Catamount Fellowship program.

As part of the program, Newo had to pose a “How might we” question and help the student explore a complex systems issue through academic research and community based conversation. The question we presented was “How might we value ‘inner’ work (mind, body, spirit, emotion) as much as ‘outer’ work (completed projects, sales, deliverables, measurables, etc.) in our organizations and personal lives to help foster an economy of prosperity and abundance?” In its many manifestations, this question has been at the forefront of our work and explorations as an organization.

From September through April, we partnered with student fellow Kelaena Maude and faculty member Bryan Nichols to explore this question. The process began with a series of discussions within our group and an identification of helpful resources. The resources included books, academic papers, lived experience, and Elder teachings (you can find a resource list in the bibliography of the paper). We also hosted a community discussion in January to include the voices of our community in our work (thank you to those who joined the conversation!).

The conversations and research into the question we chose brought us into direct contact with grief and uncertainty. Unlearning and challenging the deeply ingrained narratives and abstractions of colonization and capitalism is very destabilizing work. These are the stories around which we have been encultured into the world here in Canada and thereby have built our identities, both personal and cultural. Challenging these stories inherently means challenging one’s notion of self and relationship to the world around one. Letting go of a story and an identity requires deep grieving, and the space between the old story and the new one is inescapably uncertain. However, in that space of grief and uncertainty there is an opportunity to come into contact with our hearts and spirits, which can be our guides to a new story. And in being open and vulnerable in this space of grieving and uncertainty, there is a space that emerges to build community. We feel that community, in the widest sense of the word, is the ground from which we will find the strength to give heart and spirit a seat at the decision-making table, helping to guide the emergence of a new story.

We are excited to share the scholarly and creative works that emerged from this process with you, our community. The scholarly paper above brings together the research and conversations that occurred over the last few months, and the video below is an artistic representation of the work that our project is calling for. We would like to congratulate Kelaena for the hard, heart-led work that went into this project, and invite you to engage with it and share your thoughts with us.

Artistic statement:

Balance, by Kelaena Maude

This creative work depicts the weight that linear, colonial thought and action has had on the world, which is now in a space of imbalance. That which has been lost, has often been lost with violence and a manipulation of the heart. The heart, incased in ice, has the opportunity to begin melting and beginning the process of rebalancing. With every drop representing the melting of one heart, the scale begins to rebalance. We must recognize that it is a long process and the difference in how the weight of the scale registers feels negligible with each drop. But with many drops, the scale rebalances – not to overtake linear thinking, but to be in balance. We will likely not ever see the scales rebalance in our lifetime, but each heart that melts makes a difference.