Guiding Elders for Organizations (GEO)

The SPEC Elders Circle offers support and training in Claiming Our Role as Elders (CORE) and is launching a project designed for elders who participate in organizations as a Guiding Elder.

Through workshops, group discussions, and guided reflective self-assessment, participants will:

  • Develop Guiding Elder knowledge and skills
  • Better understand how to use your knowledge and skills to contribute meaningfully to an organization
  • Develop an understanding of organizational behavior
  • Learn to communicate your wisdom  effectively while fine-tuning your ability to understand others
  • Experience youth and Indigenous panel discussions

"If you have a longing to change our collective legacy in wholesome ways, get involved with organizations that do good work in the world, please consider joining this program for free training in how to make elder volunteer experience one that is truly satisfying"
      -Carole Christopher, Guiding SPEC Elder and Elder Circle founder


This free online multi-session program is open to the public. Take one, take some, or take them all to receive accreditation.  Elders will come away with the groundwork for participating in organizations as a Guiding Elder.

Registration now open for individual sessions and the full-length program!

When: Every second and third Thursday from October 12, 2023 through March, 10am-12pm
13 session in total

Join us and show up as a wise and experienced Elder – Register today!


For more information, please email elders@spec.bc.ca or sign up using the form below.

Course Contents

A Journey into the Heart of Becoming a Guiding Elder. Welcome to a transformative workshop that marks the beginning of your journey to cultivate the qualities and knowledge of a guiding elder. As stewards of life experience and age-related wisdom, elders can play a pivotal role in helping shape a brighter future for our planet and all living beings. Wisdom is an obvious limiting factor in meeting the challenge of climate change, biodiversity loss, and other pressing societal concerns. Join us for an inspiring exploration of the importance of wise and generous elders who invest themselves and find purpose and meaning in caring for the well-being of Mother Earth and future generations of all her inhabitants.

We are honored to have esteemed guest speaker Dr. David Suzuki join us to share his insights and perspectives and answer your questions. Be inspired by the wisdom of this renowned advocate for environmental sustainability and social justice. Gain insights into his life’s work, his reflections on the intersections of elder wisdom and planetary health, and his thoughts on inspiring collective action for a better world.

Unlock the Journey of Wisdom and Experience

In this workshop, we invite you to embark on a  path of exploring and embodying the qualities of an elder. As we age, we have the opportunity to cultivate deep insights, empathy, and perspective that come with a life richly lived. Join us as we explore the essential characteristics that define an elder. 

Key Highlights:

Reflecting on Life’s Lessons: Engage in introspective exercises that encourage reflection on the lessons learned throughout your life journey. Through guided activities, you’ll identify pivotal moments and themes that contribute to your individual reservoir of wisdom.

 Cultivating Wisdom and Compassion: Explore the power of empathy and compassion as cornerstones of elder wisdom. Learn techniques to enhance your ability to understand and connect with others.

Holistic Perspective: Learn to engage a holistic perspective that broadens your view of situations, challenges, and opportunities. Assess your capacity to weigh diverse viewpoints and offer insights that bring awareness to the well-being of individuals, communities, and the environment.

Crystallized Intelligence: Elder intelligence reflects the accumulated and consolidated experience and wisdom of life and is a counterbalance to the quick and fluid intelligence of younger generations whose life experience is less seasoned.  

Embracing Uncertainty as a strength: Reflect on your openness to the complexity and ambiguity of many life situations and cultivate an ability to offer steady guidance during critical times of change and transformation.  Embrace your role as a custodian of wisdom, and help shape a world enriched by the knowledge and perspective that is the gift of aging.  


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Healing, Empathy, and Equitable Change

In this workshop we examine the crucial intersection of trauma-informed practices and the justice concerns of equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI). As elders, our capacity to embrace our wisdom and compassion is instrumental in helping shape a just and sustainable relationship with each other and with nature.  Join us as we explore the significance of trauma awareness, the profound and persistent effects of trauma, and consider the power of JEDI principles to support healing.  We welcome guest speakers, local Indigenous elders Mary Jane Joe and Wayne Campbell. from  Musqueam who will discuss the complexity and traumatic impact of residential schools.

Key Highlights:

Understanding Trauma-Informed Practices: There is a huge movement around the world informing our understanding of trauma and its long-lasting and intergenerational impacts on individuals, families, communities and societies.  A trauma-informed approach reveals many life situations that wound and leave a persistent imprint on our lives.   Consider the effect of collective trauma on our relationship with nature and its role in the climate crisis. Learn strategies to create safe and empathetic spaces that promote a culture of compassionate understanding within your organizations and that favour healing and resilience among those impacted by trauma

Integrating JEDI Principles: Engage in insightful discussions about Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) principles and their role in fostering a more just and compassionate society. Understand the significance of weaving these principles into the fabric of your guidance and advocacy, amplifying your impact.

Residential School Trauma and Indigenous Wisdom: Embark on a profound dialogue with local Indigenous elders, Mary Jane Joe & Wayne Campbell, as they share their lived experiences and insights into the effects of residential school trauma. Understand the lasting impacts on Indigenous communities and explore strategies for supporting healing and resilience.

Elder as Agents of Empathy: Discover how your accumulated wisdom positions you to champion empathetic leadership. Learn strategies to provide guidance and support to individuals and organizations grappling with trauma.   Gain insights into creating inclusive environments that honor diverse perspectives, foster resilience, and drive positive change.

This workshop empowers you to better recognize the effects of trauma,  to support trauma-informed practices, and advance JEDI principles in your organization. By merging elder wisdom with a commitment to justice and inclusion, you’ll learn to lead with understanding, foster resilience, and help drive transformative change that echoes through generations.

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Forging Pathways to Effective Governance and Inclusive Collaboration

Welcome to a workshop that will illuminate the essential principles of sociocracy, an organizational structure and culture that supports and promotes practices of deep democracy.  We are in a time of rising authoritarianism that threatens our democratic institutions.  It is potentially a time in which to strengthen the democratic impulse from within our communities and organizations that work on behalf of human well-being.  As guiding elders, your insight is crucial in nurturing positive change within the organizations you serve. Join us on a journey of discovery, where you’ll explore how sociocratic principles can create environments of collaboration, transparency, and equitable decision-making, ultimately enhancing organizational ability to make meaningful change.

Key Highlights:

Exploring Sociocracy: We have chosen to focus on Sociocracy as the model that is being tried and refined by many small and large organizations committed to supporting principles of deep democracy in the workplace.  Embark on a journey to comprehend the foundational tenets of sociocracy, a governance model that embraces equitable participation, transparency, and the wisdom of collective decision-making. Gain insight into how these principles can reshape the fabric of organizations, fostering more harmonious and effective collaboration.

Cultivating Inclusive Organizational Culture: Explore strategies that foster an inclusive culture where every voice is heard and valued.  Create spaces that encourage open dialogue, active listening, and the integration of diverse perspectives, resulting in well-informed and impactful decisions.

Transparency and Equitable Decision-Making: Discover the value of transparency and accountability within organizations. Understand how sociocratic practices facilitate clear communication, and empower individuals.

Integrating Sociocracy: Explore how your role as a guiding elder uniquely positions you to help Navigate the challenges and celebrate the successes as you work towards a more inclusive and effective organizational structure.

Action Planning and Implementation: Collaborate with other participants to compose an ‘elevator speech’ that draws on community values and goals to introduce Sociocracy to your organization .  Fostering environments that value collaboration, transparency, and inclusive decision-making paves the way for organizations that thrive on the strength of collective wisdom.

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Cultivating Intergenerational Harmony through a Shared Love of Nature

Welcome to an inspiring workshop that explores the dynamic interplay between guiding elders and the youth of today as they explore together a societal process of rebonding with nature. The shared recognition of nature as our most profound and wise elder is a powerful catalyst to intergenerational bonding. As elders approach the far horizon of life, we turn towards the beauty and consolation of the natural world.  What we previously  took for granted, becomes more salient and more precious as we ponder our remaining time in this life.  Indigenous botanist Robin Kimmerer describes a ‘reciprocal relationship with nature -one in which we love nature and nature loves us back.  Experiencing this reciprocity feeds our wisdom and our wish for positive change for future generations.  Nurturing a caring attitude for young people is the antidote to our sorrow at leaving this life behind.  Young people face an emergency in their relationship with the natural world.  They are better equipped to meet this emergency if they balance their fear and anger by cultivating a loving bond with nature.  Leaning a little on their elders’ experience and wisdom can moderate their existential grief.  

As guiding elders, your wisdom serves as a powerful catalyst for positive change. Join us in delving into the transformative concept of stepping back from power and fostering meaningful connections with youth.  Explore our individual paths to strengthen and resource our bond with nature. Through dialogue and shared insights, you’ll discover the extraordinary potential of uniting generations to shape a better future. 

Key Highlights:

Intergenerational Bonding with Nature.  Engage the inner shift from ‘me’ to ‘we.’

Youth & Elders explore how we are inherently part of nature and how, young or old, we gain happiness when we broaden our gaze and our concern to include others (including other species) and include nature.  Befriending a ‘nature practice’ deepens and strengthens our dedication to protect nature.

Embracing a Shift in Power Dynamics: Explore the transformative journey of stepping back from conventional power dynamics and embracing a role as guiding elders. Empower your elder wisdom through practicing support, collaboration, and active listening.  Discover the satisfaction of sharing with youth an intention to shape a more reciprocal relationship with nature.  

Listening as a Catalyst for Change: Highlight the value of active listening and empathy in building bridges between generations. Understand how genuine dialogue can illuminate fresh perspectives.  Enrich your understanding of youth experiences, and pave the way for collaborative solutions to contemporary challenges.

Empowering Youth Voices: Immerse yourself in an interactive session where you’ll have the unique opportunity to converse with a diverse group of youth. Hear their aspirations, concerns, and insights firsthand, as well as their perspectives on the pivotal role guiding elders play in shaping their future. Forge connections that transcend generational gaps and foster mutual learning.

Join us for an intergenerational workshop that celebrates the potential of uniting generations around their journey to embrace a reciprocal bond with nature.  Recognizing the power of stepping back, sharing authority, actively listening, and discovering our mutual dependence on and love for nature.  Embrace your role as guiding elders and contribute to nurturing an environment where youth thrive and collective wisdom can flower


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Harnessing Elder Wisdom to Address Climate-Related Emotional Challenges

Welcome to a workshop that investigates emotional well-being. Guiding elders can be a conduit of healing and understanding through our capacity to replenish and enjoy genuine happiness even in the face of pressing global issues that afflict our world. Join us as we explore how to navigate grief, develop habits that enable personal recovery, and support youth who face a generational tsunami of despair.  Join us in this transformative workshop that empowers you to address the emotional challenges posed by climate, biodiversity, and other urgent crises with wisdom, compassion, and resilience. By leveraging your role as guiding elders, you’ll contribute to healing, ignite awareness, and inspire actions that help safeguard our planet’s future.


Key Highlights: 

Grief in the Face of Climate Issues: Engage in compassionate discussions about the toll of climate-grief on our emotional well-being.  Many studies reveal there is a rapidly rising rate of climate anxiety and grief, particularly among the young.  Research also shows that elders, as an age-category, are able to hold a complex and caring awareness of the existential threats, a longing to change the trajectory of these crises, and a capacity to find joy and happiness as blessed elements of their life experience.  

Concerns that seemed far off are suddenly upon us with terrifying destruction and loss.  Things previously thought to be safeguards are shifting into elements of the overall crisis. As an example, the wildfires are challenging our assumptions that forests and reforestation are a path to carbon sequestration and climate mitigation.  Our responses are varied but grief is a major and disabling reaction.  There are increasing calls to be aware of the signals that grief is present and eroding our individual and collective resilience and responsiveness.  Recognizing and addressing grief, connects to ourselves, to each other, and to the natural world.  

Strengthen Emotional Resilience –  We have more capacity than we realize to voluntarily trigger the rest and recovery side of the autonomic nervous system and strengthen our resilience.  Explore techniques to enhance emotional regulation and cultivate a sense of well-being.

Supporting Self and Others: Equip yourself with practical techniques for self-care and emotional well-being. Discover how to recognize signs of distress in others and offer meaningful support through active listening, empathetic responses, and sharing your personal journey.

Welcome to this workshop series that equips guiding elders with the communication skills to navigate differences.  This 4-part series will be led by Patricia Lane, who is a columnist with The National Observer and a lawyer with over 35 years of experience as a court appointed mediator.  Patricia brings skills from her professional practice along with intentional learning to provide the most up-to-date concepts for communicating across differences and the most effective strategies for successful dialogue about the critical issues of our time.  She is particularly interested in climate communication but the tools are applicable in multiple situations. 

Key Highlights:

Effective Communication Across Difference : Immerse yourself in the art and practice of communicating across diverse perspectives. Discover strategies for fostering open dialogue and understanding, allowing you to bridge divides and inspire positive change.

Building Bridges, Fostering Change: Explore techniques for building bridges of understanding within your organizations. Learn to navigate sensitive topics with minimal conflict.  Develop a practice to master skills that will amplify your capacity to inspire informed action toward a sustainable and equitable future.


Eventbrite registration coming soon

Honoring Indigenous Wisdom for Collective Growth 

We are still in the process of shaping this workshop.  Our pilot of this module last year was very meaningful to participants and we’re reaching out to assemble a team of Indigenous Elders and work with them to structure another meaningful experience.  Stay tuned.


Eventbrite registration coming soon

Entering the world of Guiding Elders

This workshop will be shaped by participants as a collaborative celebration of what we’ve learned and shared and how we grown together 

workshop series and YOU as Guiding Elders!


Participation in this session is only available by registering for full program below.

Recruitment Letter

Looking for more information on this pilot project? Please see our recruitment letter here..

Recruitment Criteria

Looking for more information on  if this pilot project is for you? Please See our Recruitment Criteria here.