[Now] we have a way to help each other through the traumas and the stresses that we have encountered in our lives… It doesn’t require any props, we all have in us our breath, as our ancestors did. We can’t stop what’s happening around us, we can learn to observe and act instead of react. We can learn to be more mindful and resilient to any environmental, professional, and emotional stresses.
– Christine Nakoolak, TLS Nunavik co-founder
The TLS curriculum was developed by the Niroga Institute, founded in 2005 by Bidyut Bose in Oakland, California, at a time when Oakland was considered one of the most violent and dangerous cities in America. The program has become a successful and cost-effective front-line prevention and intervention strategy used to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately funnels Black and Latino youth living in underserved, high crime neighbourhoods. Notably, it is one of only four mindfulness programs from around the world that meets the stringent research criteria for evidence-based practice as set by the national Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
TLS Nunavik co-founder Salimah Gillani was first introduced to the Niroga Institute in 2013, and was immediately impressed by the simplicity and accessibility of their approach for all levels of ability. She found the program to be well resourced with supporting audio, visual, and personal mentoring, as well as a broad community of practitioners in both the fields of education and health.
Salimah had the fortune of attending Niroga’s Summer Learning Institute a few years later, where she participated in her first Dynamic Mindfulness training workshop. Here she learned the foundations of the TLS program and how this daily practice can be integrated into the classroom. She also had the opportunity to meet and hear first-hand from numerous teachers, principals, and youth about the positive impact this program was having on stress resilience, youth leadership, violence prevention, and family wellness in the community.
Salimah recognized the many socio-economic similarities between the schools and organizations working with the Niroga Institute in California and those experienced by many Indigenous communities in Canada, including those found back home in Nunavik. Intrigued by the value and benefits the TLS program might offer, she shared her thoughts with long-time friend and colleague Christine Nakoolak. Shortly thereafter, with a two-pronged vision of helping to heal and empower both Indigenous youth, as well as the people and organizations working with them, TLS Nunavik Solutions Inc was born.