October 24th, 2023 – Becoming the Imperfect Friend: Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Contemplative Pathways to Healing and Reconciliation in Higher Education with Denise Findlay

Denise Findlay, shares Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Indigenous philosophy and contemplative education as ethical pathways to healing and reconciliation in higher education through the process of becoming the imperfect friend in a world ethos of death by a thousand cuts as a response to the violence of colonialism perpetuated in academia.

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Date: Thursday, October 24th, 2023 (PST)
Time: 10 a.m. to 11:30 am
Where: Free online via Zoom

About the Presenters:


Denise Findlay is a bi-cultural person of Indigenous Coast Salish and settler ancestry, proudly belonging to the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), who has dedicated the last 20 years to travelling throughout British Columbia and across Canada working exclusively in Indigenous communities facilitating processes focussed on collective healing. Denise’s work is strongly focussed on de-centring experts where child and youth mental health his concerned and restoring dignity to the role the natural kinship circle plays in providing care to Indigenous children and youth. Denise is responsible for leading the development and implementation of an innovative Provincial program called Gathering Our Medicine in collaboration with community-based Advisory and Working Groups. Gathering Our Medicine provides an innovative, cross cultural framework that empowers communities to see themselves and their placed based ways of knowing and being as the best medicine for children and youth. The program respectfully and wisely de-centres mental health experts, re-orienting them as facilitators who walk alongside families and communities restoring dignity and confidence to the role of raising and caring for children.

Denise is currently undertaking a PhD. in Philosophy of Educational Practice and Theory at Simon Fraser University and was awarded a Social Sciences Humanities Resource Council Scholarship (Canadian Graduate Scholarship) for her ground-breaking research. Denise’s research focus is on intersecting knowledges emerging from the fields of attachment theory, and developmental and affective neuroscience with Indigenous wisdom traditions and how cultural places-based knowledges most naturally support healing, recovery and development across the life span for Indigenous families and communities. Denise longs to disrupt the status quo and affect sustainable change in the way mental health services are delivered in community settings to families impacted by colonization and intergenerational trauma.

Denise has spent countless hours facilitating group processes in response to social issues rooted in intergenerational trauma and colonization. Denise holds a Master of Education from Simon Fraser University focusing on Contemplative Education and is on Faculty with The Neufeld Institute where she specializes in Developmental Attachment Theory, Trauma, and Resilience. Denise is a certified BC Provincial Post-Secondary Instructor and Professional Co-Active Coach with advanced training in Process Psychology and systems work.

Denise has vast experience working in community and training Educators, Parents and Parent Groups, Social Workers, Early Childhood Educators, Mental Health Practitioners and other Helping Professionals.



  • Becoming the Imperfect Friend: S wxwú7mesh and Contemplative Pathways to Healing and Reconciliation in Higher Education – Paper
  • Denise Findlay – Website
  • Denise Findlay UBCLC talks compilation – Playlist
  • Gathering our Medicine – Paper

The topics we cover can often be sensitive or emotionally triggering. Please make sure that you are looking after yourself. If at any point you feel that you need to talk to a friend, Elder, counselor, or family member: don’t hesitate to do so. Check out our Counseling Support Page.

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