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The Power of a Supportive Community
Episode 321st February 2023 • Elements of Community • Lucas Root
00:00:00 00:44:13

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Lucas Root had the distinct opportunity to sit down with Sandi Boucher, an expert in Indigenous recruitment/retention and Canadian Reconciliation. As they talked about community building, their conversation illuminated how meaningful connections can be crafted from adversity - a truly inspiring message for us all!

Sandi Boucher's insightful story speaks to the importance of having a supportive community. Sandi and Lucas discussed how a village alone is not enough to constitute a true community - one must also be responsible for recognizing that community within the village and contributing something back.

She showed how she achieved greater authenticity and security through the power of supportive people. Genuineness, she concluded, is special in its uncommonness - it attracts us to those who carry it with them, and Sandi noted that only when she consciously sought out encouraging people did her journey really begin. 

Her words offer important lessons on the significance of shared understanding and uplifting support from our communities.

Other subjects we covered on the show:

  • Sandi shared her experience with her community, where she felt accepted no matter how long it had been since she visited last, as well as, feeling safe to be herself within the community.
  • We also discussed the five elements of community, and how these elements allow individuals to connect with each other.
  • Lastly, Sandi emphasizes the importance of finding your own supportive community in order for self-growth.

AND MORE TOPICS COVERED IN THE FULL INTERVIEW!!! You can check that out and subscribe at

If you want to know more about Sandi Boucher, you may reach out to her at:



I totally agree. It wouldn't, it couldn't have happened earlier. I believe everything happens when it's meant to. So this is our time. It's up.

This is our time. Would you like to take a moment and tell our audience who you are, and why I am so in awe of you?

three Territory in Northern [:

So looking at previous history, looking at what happened to the indigenous people, it's not a pleasant story. Owning that history and trying to figure out how to work together. So I'm an author, I'm a trainer, I'm a consultant, I'm a whatever you need to bring this country together kind of person, so that's me.

I love. What's the name of your nation, your tribe?

San River.

San River.

Yeah, so we are Anishnabe, or Ojibwe would be the English term.



Very cool. Thank you.[:

I've worked with so many different communities and I think that's essential. If you're gonna do the kind of work that I do, you have to recognize the communities are different. That I see so many people that assume because they've been in one indigenous community, oh, I know what to do.

It's like you are so about to land on your butt, that not the way to go. So I definitely belong to my first nation community. I live in the city of Thunder Bay, so that's an entirely different community. I'm a huge part of the indigenous community inside city of Thunder Bay, which is completely different from the mainstream city population.

, I'm a mom, I'm a grandma . [:

As do we all. Well, we can hope to at least. We should hope to at least.


Is there one particular community that you'd like to talk about more today?

You know what, honestly, do you mind if I tell you a story? I just wanna lay it.

Please. I love stories.

Well, this is, if anything, like I was sharing before we started this really solidified community for me. So I work with a lot of different communities across Canada, whether they're towns and cities or whether they're are university community or whether they're an indigenous community.

e to work with my community, [:

For a long time and this is when I was much younger and my kids were little, and my eldest brother used to come visit all the time, and because he was a very outgoing, gregarious type, he always had friends with him and they were usually community members. So I met all of these different people and so did my kids.

ople, but during the breaks, [:

And these are people I knew through my eldest brother and like the elder was someone that was really, had such a profound influence on my son. Just my son was blown away by this man the first time he met him. And my son was like 10 months old, but he could not get enough of this man. And one by one, they asked me how the kids were doing.

The elder asked me to show pictures of my kids so that he could see them now as adults. And the one comment that really just, wow. One of the community members asked me how they were doing, what they were doing. And he said, well, do me a favor. And I was like, okay, sure. And he said, well make sure to tell them that we're thinking about them.

ing about them. We keep them [:

It's that recognition that you are a member no matter where you're standing, that you belong here. And I was just, it's like, yeah, that's, and the laughter was loud, like you are when you're in your inner circle. It's not that polite laugh, right? It's like really loud. And there was some personal sharing that was, you know, brought tears to the eyes.

hentic and powerful and safe [:



Amazing. Thank you for that story. Wow. Yes.


Yes. You belong no matter where you stand.

Exactly. It doesn't matter if you've been here last week or six years ago. You belong here, you're accepted here, right? So, yeah.

Yeah, it was awesome.

Yeah. That hit home. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. That's exactly what I'm talking about when I talk about community, that you feel safe, feel powerful, you can share anything. You can be a hundred percent transparent.


many people go off the rails [:

That's all that's expected, just be you, don't like, my mom would be the first and like, who exactly are you trying to be today? Right? Like, you don't do that. You don't say that. Right. And my mom and her wonderful blunt self would definitely have said something like that. So it's just so freeing and refreshing. Like you can just, you end up [00:09:00] taking that deep breath without even planning to.

Yeah. So I tell people, and I'm glad you brought this up, I say it regularly village and community are not the same thing. Yeah. And they never have been the same thing. But technology has given us an opportunity to see that from a whole new perspective of clarity. Cuz all of a sudden we can travel.

You know, you and I are having a conversation face-to-face, a thousand miles apart.

Yeah. And you know what, I just popped into my head as you said that like, can we just send this out to all the politicians we know in our respective countries. Because how often, I don't know about you, but I'd be willing to bet you have the same experience where we hear leadership, that type of leadership.

They're talking about the village.

Talking about wanting to bring the community together and they're talking about the village.

The [:

Hmm. Oh hell yeah.

And focus on identifying, and respecting and recognizing the communities within your village.

Right, right. So because it's otherwise it would be so fake. And that's what happens. We've all been to those meetings where all the different communities show up and we're gonna pretend that we're like supportive and totally agree with you. And it's like, that is totally not what I think. But this forum requires facade. This fake comminity.

Amazing. Yes, fake I completely agree.

It grates my, you know, like the sound on of fingernails on chalkboard. Like it grates my nerves when I hear a politician say the word community, like I get a twitch. I'm like, oh, no, no.

Yeah, yeah, [:

What powerful statement that is. Wow. Yep.

bring people together in the first place. Right,

t as important as the actual [:

there is no empowerment when someone else saves you, right? Because then you still feel weak. But when you are the one that grabbed onto something and pulled yourself back up and realized, wait a minute, I can stand again.

We don't do it alone.

That's Powerful. And that's what you do within community. So don't bring your community to my door.

Right, exactly. But don't assume our community needs you to rescue us. We may need some supports, but you look after your community and make sure it's healthy. We'll do that for ours, and it's just as important that we do that. But yeah, I just think some communities are challenged.

er place. Think they have to [:

Time and space.

it's true at the individual level too. As long as there are no barriers to healing as an individual, we'll figure it out we'll move forward. Sometimes I need help removing a barrier to healing, like something that's stopping me from being able to move forward.

Okay, so you had a question?

Yeah. And it's because, and it's one of the things I love about this conversation is that we are coming at the idea of community. From two entirely different directions. Like my cultural lens is incredibly different from yours being raised in my culture and my teachings, but we're ending up in the same place.

So that's why I find it so exciting. And why I wanna ask questions like, does this happen for you too? And what? So

Yeah, let's do

The question is, [:

Whereas when I look at the news in either one of our countries, to be fair, I see a lot of individualism, right? And, and it's just about what I need, and we're all about the social contract. It's like, no, your needs get taken care of as part of the community, but you have to do your part. So I was wondering how big responsibility plays in your definition of community?

uestion. It's huge. I had an [:

And I shared this in my podcast as well. Last month, the conversation was focused on the definition of adulthood. What does it mean to be an adult. And one of the really cool questions that I made sure that I got to during that conversation was, how does being an adult through the lens of community, prove that both the individual and the community must be supportive together and uniquely?

minutes on that. It [:

Communism is like the evil other, and look at our perception of communism and tell me what is missing in communism. And of course I was leading that question, right. Tell me what is missing in communism that takes it away from community because that thing is missing? And and it was a beautiful conversation.

vidual has to come from that [:

And acceptance is huge, and that's something that I'm gonna be speaking on in the next little while and realizing that. So I'm gonna go back to my teachings again. So we believe that everything happens for a reason, and that if you are born into a community, it's not that you need that community. The community needs you. That creator sent you because you carry a teaching, a perspective, a desire, whatever the case may be, that that community needs to grow.

But if you are in an environment that wants to fit you into the box, and you must behave this certain way and speak this certain way and dress this certain way, then why you were sent is lost.

So, it [:

Yeah, yes.

So that's where the individual fits into our community. The metaphor I use is the puzzle, and I'm one of those a thousand piece puzzles that I'm so not into, but I use the metaphor and I ask my audiences, have you ever put a puzzle together? And you get to the end and there's two pieces missing, and you just wanna like rip your hair out.

We are all one of those puzzle pieces. And if we're not allowed, if we don't use our voice, if we're not able to share our perspective, if we're not able to add our dialogue into the community dialogue, then that puzzle's not complete.

Oh, What a [:

Right? So that's why it's not about control. It's not about ego, it's about recognizing you are all that in a bag of chips.

But so am I, and so am I, and the challenge is to figure out why.

Yeah. Hmm. Beautiful. Thank Thank you. I read a paper that was published just recently that suggests that the weeds that grow in your field are the weeds that that field needs to be growing in order for it to balance out the nutrients that it needs to have for the next stage of growth.

we're not supposed to remove [:

No, we're not.

Why? that you have to add fertilizer and all that stuff in the spring. Why didn't you just leave the leaves there? It would've done it. It is self-sustaining like our communities, right?

But when you take the leaves away, now you have to put fertilizer in.

Yeah, because ego got into it.

Because ego got into it.

because we're nowhere close [:

The example we use looking at the wildlife, they're not destroying their environment, they know they need the environment to live. We are the only creatures that are so egotistical that we're going to do that, and we will be our own demise. Why? Because of ego.

It's amazing. One of my favorite stories is the story of Yellowstone National Park. I don't know if it's one that's told up there. In all of our infinite wisdom, we U.S people, we hunted the wolves in the United States to near extinction and Yellowstone National Park, which is this big, beautiful, gorgeous park started falling apart.

etty good job taking care of [:

Right that we are, we are the only creatures that don't understand we're a puzzle. The deer, the squirrels, the birds. They all know they fit into this huge and they do their part right, and we, we're better than that. It's like, we have a lot of deer here and I hear people complaining all the time, well, the deer are eating my garden.

It's like you realize you actually put a garden in their territory, right? Can you say buffet? Like of course they're gonna eat that, you know, it's like how nice of these humans look at all the things they grew for me, right? Like they were here first, so, and we used to live in partnership with them. So community, and we don't anymore.

We chose to leave and we're paying the consequence.

Yeah. And we don't [:

Yeah, I think the people want to do, I mean, there's some chosen ignorance going on.

I don't wanna look at that. I'm just gonna stay clear of that. Like even, and this is totally from an outsider perspective and I own that, but I see not only the rain in California, then the drought in other areas.

And it's like, like we're sitting up here and of course from an indigenous perspective, it's like, why are you using all the water to try to live in a desert? You realize it's a desert, right? Like, but trying to make it man-made rather than creator made one of the big differences. I see is, non-indigenous people see undeveloped land.

nd. Sacred land that has not [:


So, yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. That.

Yeah. That. So I'm curious, remind me, what are the five I'm putting you on the spot here.

I'm, I am delighted to be on that spot.


Unique common language. And that's that deep, smooth language that you develop through the years in trials and tribulations and challenges and drama and successes inside the community. So unique common language is number one, purpose, number two. I don't think I need to explain that.

at purpose means pretty well.[:

But rather that is the value that you give to the community and receive from the community for being a member. And that could be hugs, that could be a cup of sugar from time to time, you know, value comes in different forms and looks different to different people. And then the fifth is the thing I'm calling Common Heart, because in English we don't have a good word for it.

in community together and I [:

Even if it's not necessarily work that I'm great at, I still always do the best that I can because you are you, I care about you and you are the recipient of that work.




So that I'm calling Common Heart cuz we in English don't have a word for it. And of course there is a commentary there that we don't have a word for something that is so important. There's a story there, there's something to talk about there.

Because it's not yet seen as so important.



Yeah. A hundred percent. I like to look at this. Oh, I'm Sorry. We'll, go down that road. But first there's a tribe in Africa that has 200 different words for cow.

We make words for the [:

Many, many, many. We make words for things that are important to us by comparison. This thing, this fifth element of community that I'm calling Common Heart, we don't have a word for it because as you've perfectly stated, we haven't yet seen that it's important.

Yeah. And the Ojibwe language, it's a very practical language. So for example, having a word for river. Would make zero sense to us. Cause who cares? But there is a word for a river flowing towards you and word for a river flowing away from you, because that's what you need to know. If you wanna get over there and you're gonna use the river to get there, you need to know, are you fighting a current or going with it?

dn't just assign names. It's [:

Mm-hmm. That's really cool. That's what I'm talking about.

Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, and for me, when I saw values, I interpreted it as shared values. For example we consider ourselves the stewards of Mother Earth. We treat the earth as our mother, so you take care of your elderly mother and she gives you what you need.

do you want to destroy what [:

Like, okay, I think the common can you eat money, right? So yup.

I I mean, you could put it in your mouth. You can chew. Not sure if want to.

But it's not gonna sustain you very long. Yeah exactly. So, yeah. But yeah, just that's, and that's one of the things, I think that's how people would know they're in community. Like one of the things I love the most about being in an indigenous community as opposed to mainstream there's certain things I just don't have to explain.

I don't have to explain the [:

You get the joke, right. So, yeah, it's that sigh, like I said, that involuntary sigh that just signals your home.

Your home. That's right.

Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. Amazing. People always think about from a community perspective and there's a good reason for this and psychologically speaking, there's a pathway to understanding this. People think about protection inside the community. And there's a conversation to be had there.

But I'd like to step beyond protection cuz I think that it's the other things that come after you get that taken care of, that really start to get interesting. I've started referring to community in my close friends as a force multiplier.

It's a force multiplier, so the whatever it is that you are focused on in the community, each person can only do so much, but together we can do so much more.

ally greater than the sum of [:

Oh my laugh. I mentioned that earlier. I have a deep, loud laugh. It is not subtle. My entire adult life, I've had people like, what? What was that? In the community. That's never, they're going to join in. No one would ever comment

So let's use it.

So, I wanted to share. Yeah, it's.

Your laughter is actually music. They join in.

Yeah. Yeah. It's,

It's an invitation.

Well, we recognize authenticity, and that resonates with us.

the same way, if I suddenly [:


But it's just she needed to share this now. Hmm, It's just like I said that, so every aspect.

You just said, you just said that your community is a force multiplier for authenticity.

A hundred percent.

Oh my God. That's so cool.

A hundred percent. Which is why we don't build bridges easily or lightly, Yeah. because authenticity is really not commonplace.

I want more of that.

. When you run into someone, [:

If secure.

I don't know if it's even based on security. I think you are hoping to become more secure, which is why you're attracted to it. Right? I'm not saying you are capable of doing it, but it fascinates you. how like I run into people all the time.

years of a journey. That's [:

That's how, like I don't even get anywhere near a box now. It's like, no, I need space. I need room. But yeah. So

That's amazing. I Hmm. What a beautiful reframe.

Thank you. I think every aspect of who I am is magnified by the community. Whatever the community is, whether it's my immediate family, me and my children, indigenous community here, or my first nation community, there are just those givens.

rmine the safety and comfort [:

Mm-hmm. That's right.

So, I'm not showing all my cards till I know you are going to, or that I would be safe doing that. And it's not that I'm going, I'm definitely not staying there if I can't share all my cards. That's just the advantage of being at the elder stage. It's like, the price is too high now.

Every now and then I have someone who wants to hire me for a position with their company. It's like, get away from me. Right? You know, I'd have to play by your rules. Show up when you want me to say what you want me to. I passed that two decades ago. There is no way I'm giving up this freedom now. Like I would get fired so fast. Let's get real here. I'm gonna say one thing and you're gonna go, you're outta here, right?

So let's just save the time in between. Yeah.

to the rephrase because Cuz [:

Not because we are secure, but because we want more of it. And it is being secure that allows authenticity. That's so cool. That was amazing.

I think it might be reciprocal.

Oh, yeah.

Because like for in my instance.

You're like, I'm a little more secure, so I can be a little more authentic. I'm a little bit more secure, so I can be a little bit more hand in hand there.

It goes hand in hand confidence, right? Like what happened in my life? At some points people just started saying like, holy molly, how are you so confident? And I remember thinking, wouldn't did that happen? Exactly, they don't remember taking the test and getting an A, like, when did that happen?

at's why I said I think it's [:

If you treat yourself as someone of value, you're gonna start acting like someone of value. So long before you feel it, start doing it. Make a conscious effort to do it right, and then it'll slowly build. So it definitely wasn't just born like this. Well, actually that's not true. You'll love this speaking about community, I was lo raised in a beautiful, loving, caring, [00:38:00] supportive home that just you walk on water, right?

And for the first 17 years of my life, I thrived like some competition I'm gonna enter and like I won awards and got straight A's in school. There was nothing because I was in this environment that fed everything I wanted to do.

My dad literally thought I walked on water when I was 17, my dad passed away. And suddenly that thriving community didn't exist anymore.

And it's only in the last maybe five, 10 years that I've realized like, wow, I'm finally who she was or who was supposed to be, right? Like I'm finally back to being that confident.

I'm just gonna try it, that I was at 17, but I went off the rails for the longest time.

Hmm. [:

Well, and you pointed it out earlier, the sum of the parts, right? I was still capable of the things I was capable of, but I did no longer had the soil to grow in the sunlight I needed, the rain.

A missing puzzle piece.

authentic people, and when I [:

Mm-hmm. So, What a journey. Wow.

Yeah. Which is why I have no judgment and can so relate to someone on a bad path or lost and it's like, oh, I've been there, done that. But guess what? You have the power to change that. Not you don't need to meet somebody or wait for someone else to do it. It's actually inside you. And I show you how to do that because I did that.

Mm-hmm. We're there. This has been a beautiful conversation. I'm gonna ask this quick question and then I, so I always close every episode with three questions, but before I even get to those, were there barriers to healing that you had to remove in order for you to realize you needed to build the garden so you could grow?

% , that's an easy yes, yes. [:


Right? So yeah, guess what? Seeking your validation in other people bad idea.

Oh, yep.

So, yeah.

Yeah. Amazing. Thank you. My three questions. I end every episode with these three questions. The first one where can people find you?

Oh, So if you throw that into Facebook, you're gonna find my business page. You throw it into YouTube, you're gonna find my videos. You throw it into LinkedIn, you'll find my professional page. I'm over on Instagram. Literally everything's tied to my name. So.

Yep. Awesome. And it'll be in the show notes. Second question. One of my favorite questions in every episode is this one right here.


question that you wish I had [:

No, because I'm not about control. It's exactly what it was meant to be.

Ooh. Oh yeah. Right. Amazing. Thank you. That's exactly right. It's exactly what it was meant to be.


Third question. Can you, in one sentence, can you sum up the conversation we just had?

An appreciation of community.

Hmm. Yeah. Two lenses coming together.

Yep, and, and I think it, we really highlighted the universality of community that it doesn't matter what your background is or whatever in community, you will thrive. So find your community.

It's a human thing.

Right. Yeah.[:

Thank you. Thank you, Sandi.

Awesome. Awesome. Take care.

Take care.

Thanks for joining us this week on Elements of Community.

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