By Tawnya Plain Eagle
20 years of working with Indigenous children and families in various communities, entrepreneur Karen English wants to use her experience to create heathier communities for children to grow up in.
English’s vision through Komataan Consulting is to create a safe environment for children that will ensure they are living in safe environments.
She provides training sessions and workshops that help educate Indigenous people about dealing with traumatic experiences, and properly interacting with Indigenous families.
“It’s about us really honouring our children,” English said.
“look at the sadness in the world and in our communities, it’s the children that are suffering the most, but it’s the children that are most resilient,” she added.
She attempted to start her business in 2003, but she admits she had a difficult time narrowing her focus.
“I was all over the place, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do,” she said.
She believes that she needed to go out and gain life experience first.
The beginning of October, Kamotaan Consulting hosted a four day “Children are our sacred Bundle” conference in Calgary.
English says the purpose of the conference is to bring different Indigenous knowledge keepers together and share their own stories.
Promdomently the ones who work closely with Indigenous children and families.
“I think this last conference we probably had 20 to 30 per cent non Indigenous people, which is really good,” English said.
“It’s those people who have taken the time to learn more about our people,” she added.
Throughout the gathering, participants look at ways to develop information and knowledge while learning how to build meaningful relationships with strangers.
She practises this by mixing participants in new groups of people encouraging them to get to know one another.
English thinks building healthy relationships is vital to any partnership within Indigenous people and communities.
“When you can do that, you feel like you have hope again,” she said.
English’s passion for creating a better community comes from her experience working inside the child care system.
She worked for Piikani Child and Family Services, Kainai Womens Shelter, Red Crow College, Aboriginal Council of Lethbrige before she decided to start Kamotaan Councilling.
“I needed that experience,” English said.
After so many years of working for different organizations and understanding how they function, she knew she would have to approach these issues from a grassroots perspective.
In 2015, her family suffered from a tragic incident that resulted in the passing of her niece and nephew.
During that time, English said it was the children that kept her families spirits up.
“The kids is what helps us get through that,” she adds.
English tells the story of a dream she had of her nephew shortly after his passing.
In that dream, he came back to her as a baby wrapped in a small bundle.
“This is a message it felt like,” she described after waking up from her dream.
Adding that is where the name “Children are our sacred Bundle” came from.
Following that year, English decided she “didn’t want to work under the burocracy of our Indigneous communities or the child welfare burocracy.”
Kamotaan was the name that was given to English’s business from her grandmother Louise.
“She told me ‘I had a dream about your business, the word that came to me was Kamotaan,’” English said.
Kamotaan in the Blackfoot language translates to “moving forward in a good way,” which English admits that is exactly what she is trying to do with her business.