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Person Centred Planning through an Indigenous Lens

We are thrilled to announce a new initiative Spectrum will be exploring over the next year on person centred planning through an Indigenous lens.  This initiative is funded in part by a CLBC Innovation grant.  Working closely with an Indigenous Elder and Knowledge Keeper, we will be exploring culturally sensitive approaches to planning with the intention of providing a more meaningful planning experience and ultimately more effective support to Indigenous individuals and families. 

In 2018, Spectrum hosted a roundtable discussion with two Indigenous Elders who talked to us about supporting people with a developmental disability who are Indigenous.  Spectrum has supported many Indigenous individuals over the years, going back to our first services that were developed through the Woodlands downsizing projects.  In recent years we have started supporting a number of young people coming out of MCFD support into adult services.  We have built many connections over the years with Indigenous stakeholders, particularly the families of people we support and their extended networks.  We really value these relationships and have always worked to ensure that our services are culturally sensitive and inclusive.  However, we also know we have a lot to learn, and that some of our usual approaches to planning don’t always resonate for people who may have had negative experiences of the service system.  We wanted to begin a process of engaging more formally with Indigenous leaders and stakeholders, to take a critical look at how we develop supports that are most meaningful to each person, taking our lead from those with lived experience and being guided by their voices. 

Elder Lillian Howard provided invaluable input to our recent strategic plan and has been an inspiration to us.  Last year she participated in planning meetings rooted in Indigenous ceremony with an individual and their family that was transformative for those involved.  We couldn’t wait to talk more with her about other opportunities to learn from her and offer this kind of planning to more people.  Sadly, Lillian passed away in 2021.  We are grateful for her contributions and so sorry she could not be with us through this next phase of the journey she helped get us started on.

Priscilla Omulo, an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper and teacher, worked with Lillian and Spectrum coordinator Eilidh Nicholson to begin developing a framework for planning through an Indigenous lens.  With the CLBC Innovation grant, we are excited to be able to partner with Priscilla for the next year to further develop this framework and facilitate person-centred planning with a number of individuals. 

As with any person-centred planning, the individual and those closest to them are at the heart of the process.  Part of this initiative will be to review what’s worked (and what hasn’t worked) for people we support in terms of their experience of planning.  A guiding principle will be “do no harm.”  Participation in the initiative will be entirely voluntary.  Over the coming months, Priscilla and Eilidh will be inviting people to meet with them and talk about their experience of planning and whether they might like to participate in something new.

The first three months of the initiative (April-June 2022) is the “project design” phase, which will be a consultative process focused on gathering input from Indigenous individuals, their families and supporters.  Our first step was to review and update the contact information for people we support and to ensure that our record of past planning is up to date.  Before we start reaching out to people and proposing anything new, we needed to confirm who to reach out to, and if there’s an established relationship with someone at Spectrum already, to honour those connections.  Our thanks to the Spectrum leaders who helped update this information and provide us with the most current contact information for each person. 

Next, Priscilla and Eilidh will be creating an invitation to share with each of the Indigenous individuals supported by Spectrum, inviting their participation.  Participation could take whatever form the person is comfortable with, whether it’s being part of the project design team, or taking part in a facilitated planning opportunity, or just having a conversation. 

We will be providing regular updates via the Spectrum newsletter.  If you would like more information on this initiative or have any questions, contact Eildih Nicholson at

More information on the project leaders:

Priscilla Omulo (she/her/hers) is a Tsartlip First Nations and a visitor on Kwikwetlem territory.

Priscilla has dedicated over ten years to frontline work with Indigenous women, children and families. Her education is in psychology with a citation in mental health and addition.

Her life is rooted in her traditional and cultural teachings and this includes the way she works with the community. The colonial term of intersectional feminist best describes her way of navigating the systems we are living and working within. Gender, sexual orientation, race, disability all intersect with the forms of oppression faced by many BIPOC, LBGTQ2TIA and folks living with disabilities. Her work is dedicated to dismantle the systems of oppression and seek justice for all!

Priscilla strives to decolonize her work and life, Indigenizeher ways of being and hold herself accountable for her learning and unlearning to support justice. When not facilitating decolonization and allyship workshops, guest speaking, or in ceremony she can be found with community, organizing events for social justiceand creating art.

Eilidh Nicholson is a coordinator at Spectrum. She is a PATH facilitator who has been supporting people with planning for over 20 years. She, alongside Aaron Johannes, train people in using PATH and other person- centered planning processes. She is dedicated to all forms of community dialogue and has hosted World Cafes in community development, leadership, inclusive education and strategic planning. She loves talking with people about what is their vision of a good life.