Circle of Abundance

“The learning facilitators come into the space with humility and wisdom, and create a learning environment where participants can be vulnerable and share their experiences without fear.”

– Melissa Reid, Wagmatcook First Nations, Indigenous Women in Community Leadership

“If you want to do good for your community, if you want to create change – Coady is the place to go.”

– Tamara Cremo, Miꞌkmaꞌki, Indigenous Women in Community Leadership

In June 2020, Coady Institute launched the Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership bringing together the institute’s work with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women leaders. The Circle of Abundance provides educational opportunities, learning events, and nurtures partnerships across the country. Our approach is informed by more than a decade of working with Indigenous graduates, mentors, and Elders and emphasizes the abundance of gifts, talents, and contributions that are alive in all Indigenous communities.

We use a Two-Eyed Seeing (or Walking in Two Worlds) approach, meaning that teaching and learning practices are grounded in Indigenous worldviews, values, and teachings while sometimes using western tools and methods that align with those practices. Working alongside a Circle of Abundance Advisory Group, our team continues to look at ways to decolonize our programing both within the Circle of Abundance and across Coady while supporting Kiknu, StFX Indigenous Student Affairs.

Our flagship Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program is grounded in relational practices and mentorship opportunities that will build upon their trusted leadership capacities for community-led, community-driven work. IWCL’s approaches to community building and social change are rooted in individual and collective responsibility, reciprocity to the community, and relationship to one another and the land.

The Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program includes the guidance and support of experienced mentors who work with program participants.

Our Building on Abundance in Indigenous Communities online course introduces Indigenous principles and practices for community work that build upon strengths and assets so that participants can help meet the needs of present-day Indigenous families, communities, and Nations.

We also have partnered with the Saugeen First Nation, AB; Further Education Society of Alberta, the Urban Aboriginal Voices Society, Red Deer, AB; Native Communities Cooperative Development; and Wapna’kikewi’skwaq, Women of First Light, for various online and in person workshops, training sessions, and educational sessions.

7 Principles of Community Building in Indigenous Communities

 These principles have emerged from examining a cross-section of approximately 40+ Indigenous graduate stories over the last twelve years and by reviewing and integrating the ABCD principles of the ABCD Institute and Tamarack Institute. These are just some common principles that emerged to help explain how Indigenous peoples successfully built and engaged their communities in the past and the present.

#1 Every Indigenous person and community has gifts within:

Individuals are assets. Each individual already has unique gifts and talents to bring to the table: skill sets, visions, perceptions, passions, etc. Answers to community challenges can begin with building on what we already have. One arrow can break easily, but it is difficult to break a bundle of arrows together; their strength comes from collectively being bound together.

#2 Starts with what we already have:
Each community has resources it can use to start the first steps to community building. Once activated, then invite strategic partners in to assist.
#3 Starts with spirit:
Indigenous community-building often includes spirit by incorporating protocols and ceremonies. We often invite spirit in to start anything in a good way.
#4 Relationships/connections are central:
Community members are often socially, politically, economically or spiritually interconnected. Other community members are like family, and all have roles and responsibilities. When people know and practice reciprocal relationships, they become – not just passive receivers of outside “help,” services or programs.
#5 Asking, listening, and sharing our stories is key:
Collective decisions come from connecting, communicating, sharing, and listening to each other’s stories. When community members feel genuinely heard and appreciated and are asked what they think, they are more engaged and willing to take action toward making the changes they want.
#6 Indigenous leaders involve others:
Strength comes from involving all community members in community action. Elders, knowledge keepers, leaders, adults, youth, 2SLGBTQQIA+, and differently- abled children contribute to building communities.
#7 Decision-making, future generations & shared vision:
Many past and present Indigenous communities think about how their decisions will affect future generations and all our relations, including the land. Strong leaders build a shared vision with their community by including community members in decision- making at every level.

Adapted from Building on Abundance in Indigenous Communities Course Manual Spring 2021. – K. Paul & B. Peters


Indigenous women* thriving in abundance
*any human being embracing the roles and responsibilities of women, ex. Seed carrier, caregiver, teaching culture


Indigenous women awakening, reclaiming, revitalizing and re-matriating who we are as leaders.


  • We welcome any human being embracing the roles and responsibilities of women and acknowledge their unique contributions.
  • We all carry gifts that are needed in our communities,
  • We lead guided by the wisdom of our Ancestors, which includes spirit,
  • We strive to use a good mind and good heart in all relationships,
  • We are mindful of our responsibilities to future generations and the land,
  • We honour and seek to integrate Indigenous knowledge, languages, and ceremonies where appropriate,
  • We are community-based and community-driven focused and strive for community-based program delivery,
  • We build capacity for like-minded community lifelong learners,
  • We ground ourselves in Indigenous worldviews, teachings, and laws,
  • We use a holistic approach,
  • We honour shared Indigenous values,
  • We foster connection, friendship, and support

Programs include:

News and Events

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – 2023

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – 2023

September 30 is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. The federal holiday is just one of the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2015. We use our collective voice to call on all parties to continue to implement these calls to action as we navigate this journey of reconciliation together.

We also recognize our own duties to learn and unlearn, to decolonize our work, and to contribute in meaningful ways toward reconciliation.

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Circle of Abundance Ezine August

Circle of Abundance Ezine August

Circle of Abundance - E-zine, August 2022 Welcome to the Circle of Abundance Ezine – Third Issue ‘Entrepreneurs’. We all know that Indigenous commerce and trade date back with each other to our...

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“The Circle of Abundance is something I support because I believe that there’s no stronger advocate for a community than those living within that community. I believe in women. I believe in their power to build local economies. I believe in their power to build resilient communities. It’s incredibly exciting to be working with Indigenous leaders at Coady, learning from their lived experiences, and of course their collective wisdom.”

– Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively