culture & ETHICS

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GIFT honours a foundation of connection with nature and each other.  A foundation sets a clear intention that then acts throughout our holding and being within GIFT.  We believe our roots grow strong through holding clear ethics that work their way throughout our organization.

*** SPECIAL UPDATE, MAY 13, 2019: In our efforts to communicate to developing partners and many founders of Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing) from which Forest Therapy has been inspired, GIFT volunteer, Yuka Kataoka of Japan (now a recent resident of Canada), has begun the process of translating our web page into Japanese ***.




Home can be our immediate place in time through the world at large. Home is also the nature all around us.  We relate to nature through an ethic of wild-tending. We believe in acting through the lens that we, as humans, are an integral part of the natural world, not separate from it. We are committed to deepening our relationship with our home through reciprocity and strengthening belonging. When we take something from the forest we do so with care, consideration and gratitude. We give back through mindful stewardship. We recognize that wild tending is a growing awareness and we support positive rapport building with land-care managers.


“HOME” (家) とは、私たちが生活していくうえで必要な空間を指すとともに、我々を取り巻く自然環境のことも意味します。私たちは、Wild-tending(自然に近づく)という概念の下で自身を自然環境に重ね合わせて考えています。我々は、自然から切り離された存在としてではなく、自然環境の一部であるという認識の下で生活を営むことが大切であり、自然環境との相互関係から、また、自身が自然に属しているという認知のもとで、”HOME”との関係をより強いものにすることが重要であると信じています。森林から何かを採ろうとするときは気配りと思いやりと、感謝の意をもって享受しなければならず、また、その恩恵を返すことに心を尽くさなければなりません。Wild tending は近年広まりつつある概念であり、GIFTは森林や自然地帯を管理する人々との調和的関係をサポートしています。

GIFT Giving ! …Ben on behalf of GIFT donating $250 to Kyle of Aamjiwnaang First Nation to help a recently launched Native Plant Nursery to help recover nature to surrounding landscapes as well as assisting in the health of community residents.

GIFT Giving! …Ben on behalf of GIFT donating $250 to Kyle of Aamjiwnaang First Nation to help a recently launched Native Plant Nursery to help recover nature to surrounding landscapes as well as assisting in the health of community residents.


Forest Therapy is both a new and ancient practice, supporting people to deepen their intimacy with the natural world, returning to a state of being known to all our aboriginal ancestors.

This state of being is sometimes referred to as 'deep nature connection' where we recognize we are not only a human being moving through a natural environment but we are a human being in our natural environment, living our lives in reciprocal regenerative relationship with the rest of nature. While we recognize that we are all indigenous to Earth, there are many aboriginal communities (colonized and un-contacted) who continue to suffer huge losses due to the industrial growth model upon which globalization is founded. In gratitude and recognition, we pledge 1% of our income to Indigenous Culture Issues and Ecological Restoration.





Our connections are a spiral from the inception of GIFT, our work with each other in house, our trainings, mentorship and broader outreach.  We believe in a culture that creates inclusion and connection in the way we interact in pairs, in groups, as we represent GIFT and in supporting and contributing to research in the broader world independently and with any collaborations with universities and other institutions.



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We commit to use these guiding ethics as our interpersonal foundations to help inform our decisions and our growth and change as an organization.

1.     Agreements

We do our very best to meet the agreements we have designed together.

If an agreement is broken, we go through the following steps:

  • the person who has broken the agreement recognizes this and articulates responsibility

  • a process of re-contracting is entered; if there has been negative impact, communication is initiated by the person who has broken the agreement



·         協定を破った者はそのことを認め、その内容を責任をもって述べること。

·         契約の再交渉;組織にとってマイナスとなる結果がもたらされた場合、協定を破った者が契約の再交渉を進めるうえで必要な論議の責任を持つこと。

2.     Self-Care

We strive to prioritize to take care of ourselves in a way that supports us to be fully present for our work in a joyful and productive manner. We recognize that our personal lives are not entirely separate from our work lives. We offer support to each other in times of need and we choose to own and care for our own issues or triggers.



Sky, Ben, Romola; January 2018, the Forest City Canada . Agreeing to core values and ways of being were critical to officially launching GIFT. It is futile to grow anything without establishing a strong, mutually agreed upon foundation.

Sky, Ben, Romola; January 2018, the Forest City Canada. Agreeing to core values and ways of being were critical to officially launching GIFT. It is futile to grow anything without establishing a strong, mutually agreed upon foundation.

3.     Being Fully Present
During any professional-related activity we commit to being fully present, in mind, body and spirit. This includes minimizing distraction (including but not limited to: cell-phone use and work that is external to activity at hand) and not partaking in any mind-altering substances (if these substances are legal their use is restricted to amounts that do not lead to mind-alteration).



Wild plants are wild medicines. Here, Wild Ginger flowers, beginning its season-long relationship with Ants. What is your medicine?

Wild plants are wild medicines. Here, Wild Ginger flowers, beginning its season-long relationship with Ants. What is your medicine?

4.     Consensus Decision-Making Process

 We choose to make decisions based on consensus. Consensus does not mean that all present are “convinced” to take a certain action or all agree on a particular issue.  It means that all present are willing to put aside their own agenda to listen to the unfolding of the highest possible direction this unit or group can take. This requires a commitment from all present to set aside their own ideas and desires and to speak only when inwardly prompted to help discover what this higher direction may be.  At the same time, we need to be willing to speak up when something doesn’t feel right.   Each person steps into a place where they may “buy in” “allow” or “choose to challenge”.  We get to that place by balancing how each decisions serves the whole, while including our own thoughts and needs. 



5.     Culture of Feedback

With the intention for mutual growth and tending to harmonious work relations we practice a culture of feedback. By being open to feedback we can learn more about ourselves and each other, build better relationships, bring our gifts more fully into the world, and create a great place to live and work.  Feedback can help us to become more aware of our gifts and strengths as well as our shadows and blind spots.

Our ‘GIFT Card’ - fashioned from White Birch wood, with a dab of wonderfully scented essential oil, or ‘Phytoncides’ from conifers placed on the back, these cards are hugely popular as keepsakes.

Time is given for personal feedback during debriefs of co-led workshops/trainings and is also integrated into day-to-day work-life when a need arises. But there may be specific situations, when an inter-personal issue arises.  We agree to prioritize speaking directly with the person over speaking to others about it, or keeping it to ourselves, if it is likely to cause further discontent. If we do chose to share this issue with others we do so with the intention of holistic self-care and/or gaining clarity. We choose confidants that we trust to hold us in our process but who can remain neutral in terms of the information that is shared with them. It is best to offer feedback sooner rather than later.  This ensures the feedback is fresh and relevant and will avoid developing into a charge. 

When giving feedback to each other we agree to;

i)       If we would like to initiate giving the other person feedback, we first check-in when would be a good time for both people





i) 誰かにフィードバックを与えようとする場合、その人は、両者にとって適切なタイミングを考えなければならない。

Connecting with dedicated volunteers is a part of building a community from which an organization gains roots, shoots, and then flourishes.

Connecting with dedicated volunteers is a part of building a community from which an organization gains roots, shoots, and then flourishes.

ii)     Use I Statements. Realizing that our experience is framed from our own perspective rather than a judgement based on right or wrong or accusations of blame, we use sentences that begin with 'I'. For Example: I feel, I noticed, I am aware, When I heard/saw, I experienced.

iii)    Recognize that there is no ultimate 'right' way to do things and that there are many possible perspectives on any issue

iv)   When we receive feedback we commit to 'try it on', that is that we are truly open to receiving the feedback and then after sometime deciding for ourselves if it feels true for us or not. When someone offers you feedback, it is critical to actively listen.  We do not simply say, ‘I hear you’.  We summarize what they have said to check that they have been heard and interpreted correctly. We seek and acknowledge any truth about our behaviour from which we can learn. We appreciate the time and energy it took for them to offer us feedback.

ii) 一人称を使ってフィードバックを行う(例;私は〇〇と感じた、私は〇〇だということに気づいた、私は〇〇と考える、私が〇〇を見た/聞いた時...など)。このことにより、その意見や経験が、個人のとらえ方によるものだということを認識し、フィードバックが批判や非難の材料になることを避けることができる。

iii) 世の中には 絶対的な“正しい方法”はないということを認識する。物事は様々な人々の多様な考え方や方法によって解決することができる。

iv) フィードバックを与えられた際、できるだけそれを取り入れようとすること。あらゆるフィードバックを偏見のない目で受け取り、実践をしてみた後、そのフィードバックが自分にとって正しいと思えるかどうかを判断しなければならない。フィードバックを受け取った際は、そのことに対して真摯な態度で取り組まなければならず、組織として、当事者がそのフィードバックを正しく理解したかどうかを確認する義務がある。我々はフィードバックを通して自己の向上に努めなければならず、また、フィードバックを与えてくれる相手の時間とエネルギーを尊重しなければならない。

6.     Peace-making

To maintain positive relationships within our team, we use a set of processes which facilitate peacemaking and clearing conflicts.  Our guiding principles are:

  • Conflict Builds Community: remember that we learn and grow together through our diversity. Conflict is problem-solving in disguise. Our differences are gifts that make up a healthy whole. Be open to seeing something from a new angle.

  • Speak fearlessly and with compassion for all parties.

  • Little and often: avoid building up a backlog of problems by addressing them soon after they arise.

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Our aims are:

1.     To promote a sense of safety, inclusivity, and non-judgment.

2.     To increase understanding and empathy, finding unity in our diversity.

3.     To enable the peaceful resolution of difficult situations.

4.     To support self-development and emotional growth

5. To support and mentor each other in alignment with our agreed values as members of the organization.



·         衝突は時としてコミュニティーの形成につながる;我々は多様性の中に生きることで学び、成長することを忘れてはならない。衝突は問題解決の糸口であり、個人の多様性が組織としての強みに貢献していることを忘れず、新しい角度から物事を見る習慣を忘れないこと。
·         議論を恐れてなならず、また、話し合いの際には相手を思いやる心を忘れないこと。
·         問題を放置しない;小さなことでも気づいた際にその場で解決することで、問題の肥大化を防ぐこと。







7.     Being In Flow

We are committed to listening to personal intuition and group flow. We strive to surrender our ego attachment in order to honour energy moving through us, to connect with ourselves and each other and to be in our true essence of joy and harmony for the greater good.  When we are in flow we move forward with ease.

The heart-soothing blossoms of Downy Hawthorn.

The heart-soothing blossoms of Downy Hawthorn.


8.     Creating a Culture of Appreciation and Gratitude

If you notice someone doing something well, please share this with them as soon as you can.  Be specific.  For example, “I love the way you welcomed that guest, you were so friendly and smiling and they seemed to instantly relax and feel at home”.

In some First Nations traditions our gifts and talents are believed to be shy and hidden. If they peep out but are not noticed or welcomed, they may go into hiding again.  Giving positive feedback helps us to feel valued while creating more positive energy in our community and workplace culture.