Counselling, Personal Growth

Two-Eyed Seeing – Our Reconciliation Journey

The following information is adapted from the ideas of Albert Marshall, a respected Mi’kmaq Elder who founded the concept of two-eyed seeing (or in the Mi’kmaw language, “Etuaptmumk” [Ed-do-up-dim-moomk]).

Two-eyed seeing is a way of learning to look at the world that embraces the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing and the strengths of Western methods of understanding. The journey being one of continuous learning and weaving together both perspectives to create a new worldview that uses both these “eyes” together, for everyone’s benefit.


My name is Melanie Bazin, and I am a Métis mother, wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, friend, and helper from the community of St. Malo. I grew up connecting to the land through hunting, gathering, and fishing. Due to colonization, Métis heritage was often hidden. But despite not knowing much about my Indigenous roots, blood memory has come calling, and I have actively reconnected to Indigenous ceremonies, teachings, and ways of being. Land continues to be important to me personally and professionally. I am the Director of Training for CTRI, and I provide land-based therapy through Lil’ Steps Wellness.


My name is Nathan Gerbrandt, and I am a fourth generation immigrant to southern Manitoba Treaty 1 territory. I am a son, brother, husband, and father, raised in a strong Mennonite family and community for which I am grateful and privileged by the values of service, humility, and curiosity instilled in me. I am trained as a social worker, and my approach to healing has been driven by building relationship bridges that connect people and enhance their individual and our collective capacity for resilience. I am the Managing Director of CTRI, and I am passionate about training on trauma-informed approaches to building strong communities.

Our Two-Eyed Seeing Journey

We first discovered Albert Marshall’s words on two-eyed seeing this past spring, which has led to a rich journey of reflection and discussion. Two-eyed seeing is enhancing how we approach our work, our processes, and even our understanding of reconciliation. Both of us are committed to reconciliation and strive to bring its impact onto ourselves and our organization, the Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute (CTRI).

As a training organization, continuous learning and improvement are central to our mission. This is why the concept of learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western methods of understanding, so appeals to us.

Bringing a two-eyed seeing framework to our reconciliation journey has been like adding a compass to guide our way forwards. Interweaving the best of Indigenous and Western thought and practices honours the diversity of identities, beliefs, values, and models for healing – using both eyes adds depth to how we see the world.

“The advantage of Two-Eyed Seeing is that you are always fine tuning your mind into different places at once, you are always looking for another perspective and better way of doing things." – Albert Marshall
As social workers and trainers, we have each struggled with the imbalance and prioritization of Western approaches over other forms of healing and learning.

Hierarchy of Knowledge

As social workers and trainers, we have each struggled with the imbalance and prioritization of Western approaches over other forms of healing and learning. We see this stemming from colonization, which is based on a foundation of Eurocentric power and control. For centuries, the colonial perspective has dominated the Western worldview, as it was believed to be superior to the beliefs and practices of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous ways and perspectives were seen as uncivilized and outlawed – oppressive policies were enacted to support and ensure continued colonizer power.

We are both highly aware that we are caught in systems that perpetuate this prioritization of colonizer knowledge and approaches. We also know that it exists within our very organization. To rectify these power imbalances and work towards reconciliation, it is essential to value both Indigenous and Western ways of being, learning, and seeing the world.

“No one person or culture ever has more than one small piece of the knowledge.”  – Albert Marshall

Seeing With Many Eyes

When we truly respect the strengths of diverse perspectives, we actually learn to see with more than two-eyes. Albert Marshall’s model encourages us to be fluid, adaptable, and to seek out a variety of approaches and worldviews. Knowledge can be gained in many ways, through relationships, experiences, self-reflection, symbolism, dreams, etc. In this way, the concept is more universal and inclusive of other perspectives and cultures. If our human physiology was different, it may be more accurate to refer to this as four-eyed, ten-eyed, or multiple-eyed seeing.

Being in Circle

When we use both eyes to see a diversity of strengths, our knowledge and the way we see the world is ever evolving. In her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer aptly compares two-eyed seeing to cross-pollination, which “produces a new species of knowledge, a new way of being in the world.”

We’ve taken this idea of cross-pollination to heart, and our conversations about two-eyed seeing and leveling hierarchies of knowledge are leading to the idea of being in circle. Two-eyed seeing is an opportunity for us to be in circle with each other, listening to and learning from each other in a balanced way. A circle cannot be made by one person – by its very nature, it is interdependent on many people, each with their unique voice to add. In a circle, there is no hierarchy, ideas exist on the same level, and therefore all voices are equal.

In circle, a point of view can be shared, bounced off another, and have another view added, only to be bounced around again. Knowledge can grow by weaving together all perspectives and lenses, which leads to enriched knowledge. Thus, the strengths contained in each approach exist unto themselves. They are not corrupted by power or control or who said what. Being in circle together allows us to deepen our understanding of the world by seeking to understand the perspectives of others.

Melanie’s deep connection to her culture and the land has sparked a curiosity in me, Nathan, along with a greater appreciation for the land, and the impact of space on how we meet, work, and find healing and growth. Where we meet or conduct trainings is not simply an aside from the content, but that space and the land itself can be key players in the experience and the learning itself!

Two-eyed seeing is an opportunity for us to be in circle with each other, listening to and learning from each other in a balanced way.

Recently, CTRI leaned into incorporating a two-eyed seeing approach to our workshop review process. Rather than falling back to our typical Western-based process where trainers would gather (often online) for a few hours, to analyze and incorporate feedback together to improve a workshop or program, we drew more from the strengths of a traditional approach – we gathered on the land, away from the city, in circle around a fire. We ate, smudged, shared our personal experiences of the program, gathered feedback, and discussed the vision for the program. CTRI staff and trainers shared their experiences and wisdom, and we were led through a birthing ceremony by CTRI’s Elder, Louise McKay. During this water ceremony, the vision of the program was set, and a new name based on the concept of togetherness began taking shape. This wholistic and equal process of sharing our voices incorporated mind and heart knowledge, and facilitated investment from all involved. It created a meaningful way to move forward with an important project.

We are committed to continue learning and incorporating a two-eyed seeing approach into all our processes at CTRI.

For more FREE RESOURCES on this topic and others, visit our free resources page.


Melanie Bazin, MSW, RSW

Director of Training

Nathan Gerbrandt, MSW, RSW

Managing Director

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