For Theodora Warrior, money has always been a barrier.
Living on the Piikani Nation, she says she grew up in poverty.
“I’ve experienced homelessness, having to hitchhike, using the food banks, just never being able to sustain and thrive,” Warrior tells APTN News.
“It was always survival mode. I know that this is something a lot of others experience as well.”
Now, she’s overcome those obstacles and has turned finances into a teachable skill.
Warrior is the first Indigenous finance empowerment facilitator at Momentum in Calgary, a charity that focuses on economic development.
“I think this is very historic in terms of being the first going out to the reserves rather than them having to come to look for us and it’s bringing that home,” she says in the Momentum lobby.
Money Moccasins takes place on zoom; participants learn skills like budgeting and how to maintain credit by using traditional teachings.
For instance, Warrior compares money to water.
“Water, it’s a very precious resource and it needs to be saved, preserved and respected and to be able to use for today and tomorrow.”
Warrior says financial literacy and banks can be intimidating and the effects of residential schools have left many struggling financially.
She uses her personal experiences to reach participants.
“My mother attended residential school from the age of 4 to 14; we know that they weren’t really schools, there was not learning,” she says. “So, at 14 years old to just be put out into the world then not knowing a thing about money, it was a lot of hard knocks and a lot of survival times of making money stretch for a month.
“That’s just my mother, so when we look at all the reserves and all the experiences that occurred, it just wasn’t taught.”
Warrior says many have graduated from Money Moccasins. A ‘train the trainer’ program is opened to anyone wanting to bring the skills back to their home communities.
“Using those fundamentals have really changed my life in the last two years. I’m just in such a better place financially and mentally and I have that stability now,” she says.