Meet William, Family Support Worker

Read the interview below to learn more about William and his work with NIȽ TU,O.

Interviewer: can you tell me a bit about who you are and where you’re from?

My name is William. I’m from Red Lake, Ontario, but I’ve been living here in Victoria for nine years now. I think I moved here in 2014. So yeah, I’ve been here for a little while. I feel like an island guy now.

Interviewer: Can you share some of the background and experience you bring to your position?

Yeah, so, I have an Indigenous background, Ojibwe background, and, so learning how the culture right here is, it’s different ties, but it’s fairly similar connections and whatnot. I’ve done my criminal justice diploma, which is kind of helpful in this field, and I feel like it relates to it pretty close. 

In terms of practical experience, I worked for a company called Tiana in Red Lake, so I worked in a northern community, kind of the same job, more of a social worker position. I was working with high-risk youth at that point, so I was able to transfer that experience all over here. It’s pretty much close to the same, a little different, a little bit colder out there, especially in the winter, ice roads and flying around, landing on the winter roads, and whatnot. It’s a pretty wild experience. 

Here in Victoria, I’ve also worked for the Kool-Aid Society as a mental health worker. Definitely high risk and addictions and working with the homeless from the streets of Victoria and getting them into housing. So all that translates into what I do here. 

Interviewer: What is your job title and what kind of work will you be doing?

I’m a family support worker, and it’s just as the title says. It’s a very wide range of duties that falls under our work. We’re not technically social workers, but we help all of our community members that we work with, just trying to empower them, trying to break poverty, and keep families united. It could be a wide range of things such as counseling or just helping them arrange counseling meetings, finding the right needs that fit them. It could be any little thing from just driving to the grocery store. So they have means of transportation, getting that done, or providing bus passes, any sort of thing. Then, just making it easy for them to get the things that they need, especially all the programs that are offered here with our company. So we got the parenting programs, the hippie program. We have tons of different clubs. We have paddle boarding clubs starting up, so we’re just trying to find them anything that they need help with and getting it done.

Interviewer: What kind of impact do you hope to have during your time at NIȽ TU,O?

That’s the thing about this job, you start impacting right away. Everything that you do, every family that you meet, everybody’s so thankful. A good reward from this job is that you are actually making an impact and you’re helping people and it is very rewarding. There’s not much more I can say. It’s pretty great in that regard.

Interviewer: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

When I’m not at work, I spend a lot of time at the gym. Recently I started bouldering and that’s fun. It’s a decent workout. I like spending my time outdoors. Finally, I’m embracing that island life. I went surfing for the first time, even though I’m not a big fan of the ocean. The ocean’s kind of terrifying, but surfing was awesome. It was really fun. And spending time with family. I’m a pretty big gamer too. I love time on the computer, and spending money on the computer too. I’m always up for new adventures, trying new things, and eating good food. Victoria has lots of good food, so I can’t complain.

Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like to let the community know? Anything else you’d like to say?

For NIȽ TU,O, there’s so much more. The future for NIȽ TU,O is really great, like these new Coast Salish law books that they’re implementing and all the work that they’re investing into this and the money they’re investing into it. So I think there are lots of good things that are gonna come underneath well and that’s already been happening right now. Just all these programs. So it’d be great to see more people accessing it, even though with the culture nights and all that stuff, it’s pretty amazing how many people are already accessing it. It’s great. There’s a good balance here between culture and working with the community and work itself.