Wellness Perspectives: Tsow-Tun Le Lum

11th April 2022

As we get closer to our Wellness In The Workplace: Topics of Substance event for 2022 we are looking to get wellness perspectives from our speakers looking at the idea of wellness in the workplace and what it means to them.  It means many things to many people, so here’s our first chat with one of our first speakers.

Nola Jeffrey is of Tsimshian and Coast Salish ancestry and is a member of the Eagle Clan. Nola is the Executive Director for the Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society.

Tsow-Tun Le Lum is a healing house in Snaw-Naw As territory (Lantzville), on Vancouver Island. Their team provides healing programs grounded in Indigenous culture which are offered to individuals seeking healing from trauma and its effects.

TTLL also provides outreach services to individuals, families, communities, and organizations seeking cultural support.  Nola Jeffrey will be speaking at our Wellness in The Workplace event on April 27th.

Nola kindly agreed to share some of her perspectives on wellness in the workplace as we spoke a little about wellness.

What is wellness in the workplace to you?

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To have wellness, we need to balance in our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical elements.  Wellness needs to be everywhere – including the workplace.

Using a canoe analogy, we are all part of the team, moving the canoe in the right direction.  We support each other to have balance and to make sure we are all able to keep moving in the right direction.

For example, at TTLL we start each day with a morning check-in session.  Staff share how they are doing, perhaps what they are struggling with that day, and how their wellness is.

This allows our work family to know and honour where we are at on any particular day, and to provide support accordingly.

We make sure we take breaks, and TTLL provides staff with healthy meals.  All this contributes to keeping us healthy and happy.

But this isn’t only about workplace wellness – this is about our personal wellness.  (We just happen to be at work.)

We recently did an informal survey at an event that saw the 31 people we spoke to split down the middle, with half saying a wellness in the workplace program is too complicated, while the other half saw value such a better recruitment, and retention, better workplace environment.    What are your thoughts on the idea of a formal wellness program for the workplace?

Photo by Pixabay

It doesn’t have to be formal or complicated.  It begins with awareness that wellness is valued and important for us to do our best.

At TTLL it’s a big part of who we are.  People need to be well personally to effectively assist others the way we do at TTLL.

Safety is an important part of wellness.

It is important to have trust in order to share vulnerability about where you are on a particular day, and to know that your coworkers are there to support you how they can.

On the more formal side, we recently added a very good benefit plan to encourage staff to find time for massages, appointments, and take care of themselves in other ways.

As I mentioned, food is also important.  In our culture we feed our guests and we provide meals for staff when they are working here.

I encourage other workplaces to see self-care and wellness as one of the foundations for the success of their organization. I think it would be great to have more organizations embrace wellness in whatever way adds value for them.

With so much happening in the world right now on top of our personal challenges, there are many of us who are managing a range of heavy emotions.  What advice do you have to employers?

Recognize these emotions, and recognize that this is a difficult time.  Often in society, being in touch with your emotions can be seen as weakness.  Here we believe that it shows an ability to be vulnerable, and that it takes and shows strength to express that emotion.

Employers should acknowledge that these emotions exist in the workplace, and that they impact our ability to be whole, to be well, and to be a healthy part of a productive team.

This can help us all pull in the same direction.  It’s ok for someone to take their paddle out and take a break, that’s why we’re a team.

Closing Thought

A closing thought after speaking with Nola and understanding some of her perspectives on wellness at work is a simple one.

We need good people to help us paddle.  If we want good people in our workplace, we have to find and support good people to keep them.

Support Tsow-Tun Le Lum

Tsow-Tun Le Lum is building a new Helping House and needs to raise another $5 million.

If you are interested in donating to help to ensure continued support services for Indigenous Survivors, families, and communities, please visit their website and click on the donate tab.


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