Since December of 1982, when a gathering of Indigenous elders, spiritual leaders and professionals at Lethbridge,Alberta established the foundations and set the directions for the Four Worlds International Institute, an unabated outpouring of energy by many skilled and dedicated people has been directed to understanding and implementing that vision over the past 28 years. What those cultural and spiritual leaders saw was the possibility of healing Indigenous communities from the root causes of alcohol and drug abuse. But they also saw and fully understood that the healing and development of their own community would have an effect on the entire Human Family.
Such a vision, emerging as it did in 1982 in the midst of one of the darkest hours Indigenous people have ever known, stands as an elegant testimony of the strength and power that exist at the core of Indigenous cultures every where on Mother Earth for regeneration and renewal.
From these communities and from our experiences in working in more than 40 countries around the world, a strategy has emerged for implementing that vision of healing and development that is having a positive effect on many people and communities. That strategy can be summarized as follows:
Highlights of Important Principles
1. Cultural Foundation – The primary processes of development must be shaped and guidedfrom within the culture of the people.
2. Wholistic – Human and community development must be approached wholistically;i.e., by taking into account the whole person, family, community and nation,and integrating a multi-disciplinary, inter-sectoral, and multi-dimensionalapproach.
3. Vision – Developing people need to be supported and assisted to articulatea positive vision of the future and to dedicate themselves to its realization.
4. Spiritual and Moral Dimension – The spiritual and moral dimension of development must be carefully attended to and guided by principles and processes from within the culture of the people.
5. Learning – The support and promotion of learning must be placed at thecenter of development activities.
6. Participation – the active participation of developing people at all levels (from needs assessment, through planning, evaluation and beyond) must be rigorouslyand systematically promoted.
7. Integration – The bottom-up and top-down approaches must be integrated so that top-down initiatives receive the guidance they need from within the developing community, and so that bottom-up efforts are appropriately supported from the outside with the information, training, finances, and other input needed at critical points in local, regional, and international processes.