THE DEVA INITIATIVE
Building Impact in Indigenous Communities with H.O.P.E.
by Helping Other People Excel
The DEVA Initiative
Building Impact in Indigenous Communities with H.O.P.E. - by Helping Other People Excel
Writer: Tina Overbury
We acknowledge that this recording was hosted on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Skwxwú7mesh people, and our guest joined us from the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.
GATHER for HER welcomed Sharon Marshall, an Indigenous Entrepreneur of proud Cree and European heritage who has dedicated her life to helping Indigenous women find their voice. She is the founder and CEO of DEVA Training & Staffing Solutions, as well as the creator of the DEVA 20-week Online Training Program providing Indigenous women in remote communities virtual administrative training and digital literacy skills for greater opportunities to live in their home community.
Sharon is an administrative professional, skills development trainer and facilitator, graphic recorder, speaker and author who generously shares her gifts with others to empower women to follow their own inner knowing and innate wisdom.
FOR HER: Human Expansion Realized
Sharon builds impact with HOPE: Helping Other People Excel. She sees a future where Indigenous women have everything they need to establish roots in the community they love. She is empowering women to have the skills and confidence they need to live a life of choice. She believes: when Creator gives us what we need to support ourselves, SHE wants us to share our innate gifts for the greater good of the world. From her Indigenous perspective, Sharon reminds us that the way we show our leadership is by sharing our wealth, and that’s not just monetary, it is also our gifts.
“SHE is the Creator, for HER, which is all of us.”
SHARON: What can I do to help? I'm just one person. I'm just me. I'm an administrative professional —what can I offer? Well, God has given us all gifts and, and I believe she wants us to share these gifts with the world. From an Indigenous perspective, we believe sharing our wealth shows leadership. Our wealth is not just monetary, it is in our gifts. Over and over again I kept finding the lack of capacity in many of these communities so I thought to myself: Why don't I teach women to do what I do? And then it all started to click and make sense. There are so many horror stories about what happens to many of the men and women who leave their communities in order to find work, and when they do, it is often subpar. It's menial work, menial pay, and they can't survive. So the DEVA project pilot was born to fill that need.
In some remote Indigenous communities, the unemployment rate is 49% and more. Suicides are five to seven times more prevalent in these communities than in non-Indigenous communities.
"DEVA is the platform to empower women to see the magnificence and the greatness of themselves.”
SHARON: Working and staying in your community offers the safety and security we all look for, need and deserve. We can’t grow to the next level until our basic needs are met and we feel safe and secure. Being able to stay in our home community can create this and then we can start exploring what it might be like to expand. When I think of what DEVA offers Indigenous women in remote communities I think of the chrysalis and the butterfly. This image of DEVA as an organization is the cocoon; we provide a safe place for women to explore who they are and what they can do. One of the things that is important for this program is to help these women find their niche, and work within it. I'm not trying to foster generalists. I'm trying to find the diamond within each woman and help her figure out what her gifts are. The cocoon is DEVA, and by the time they graduate from the program they have transformed into a beautiful butterfly with these gifts and new tools to support themselves and share with the rest of the world.
In some Indigenous communities, the unemployment rate is 49% and higher. Suicides are five to seven times more prevalent in these communities than in non-Indigenous communities.
- If we don't have internal safety and capacity, it’s almost impossible to bear what's happening externally. DEVA offers practical and tactical ways to exist in the world.
Security looks like being able to stay in your community if you want to.
- Women in small, remote communities need and deserve security so they can deal with the little to no opportunity to grow and a daily life of uncertainty. To stand in the gap, find our edge and change the tides of our life we need support. This is a both/and conversation.
Being digitally literate and having digital tools gives women in remote areas options.
- To work online, we need the internet, and a lot of these communities don't have it yet. As the federal government pours money into ensuring everyone has access to high speed internet let’s also provide women digital literacy training, or we're just buying communities Facebook and Netflix. Whether it’s for administrative work, or just to help women create their own website to sell their artwork, DEVA can give them the digital tools they need to move their lives forward.
H.O.P.E. - Helping Other People Excel
- With DEVA, it's not just about the administrative or digital skills, it’s also about the soft skills like learning about emotional intelligence and how to think on your feet. My H.O.P.E. - Helping Other People Excel, is that these young women will graduate from this program not only skilled, but wise.