Walking In Two Worlds: Charla Huber’s Gift for Communication and Making Connections
“I feel like my background as 60 scoop and growing up in a non native home has been a place of not really knowing where I belong and walking in two worlds. I turned that into a career, translating and trying to bring people together,” explains Charla Huber. Adopted at birth and raised in a non-Indigenous home, she’s been trying to connect with Indigenous communities for most of her adult life. Her mother was from Fort Chipewyan and her father is from Beausoleil First Nation in Ontario.
Huber has lived in Victoria for two decades, having first arrived on a camping trip when she was 19. With a backpack of clothes, she started her life one province over from her home in Alberta. She makes a living running her own Indigenous communications business with a background in journalism and communication. She decided a couple years ago that she wanted to give entrepreneurship a try so she could share Indigenous stories and perspectives in a way that honors Indigenous culture and values. Her clients include governments and non Indigenous organizations who want to do better or work with Indigenous people.
Communications made sense as a career because Huber has always loved writing and telling stories. She went to school and became a newspaper reporter but found it didn’t pay very well and the schedule she was expected to keep didn’t mesh well with her parenting responsibilities as a single mom. She ended up transitioning into a communications role, working as the Director of Communications and Indigenous Relations for an Indigenous housing provider. Her role looked at communications that honours Indigenous values and also reached out to Indigenous communities to ensure housing projects were done in a way that honoured their territories and cultural practices.
“I'm always very open about being adopted and not necessarily knowing where I'm from or my culture. Because of that, I've had a lot of different Indigenous leaders and elders really take me under their wing and share their culture and teachings with me, which has been such an honour,” Huber reflects.
Her advice for youth or students who might be thinking about leaving their community to go learn somewhere else or even just travel is to not feel like they have to change for other people. Being true to yourself and your teachings is something she advocates for, to be authentic wherever you go and in control of your own narrative. If she could give her younger self advice, it would be, “be true to who you are, and know that you have talents, abilities and worthiness, even if other people around you tell you that you don't."
The biggest obstacles Huber has faced have been around people not wanting to give her opportunities or deciding how far she can go in a given organization. She has made the choice to decide for herself where she’s going to go in her career and not be held back. “It's really hard to be the only person who's believing in yourself. But I think it's so valuable to not let people tell you who you are, or what your skills are, or how far you can go,” she offers. In the work that she does, she’s always looking for opportunities to hire more Indigenous people to share the wealth. “I think it's such a Western way of paying your dues, or you have to do this. I feel like we don't have to follow those narratives. We can just be kind and if we have opportunities, we can share them with others,” she continues.
To stay on top of her mental health, Huber practices mindfulness through beading, a traditional practice that brings her comfort knowing her ancestors did the same. “We always hear about meditation and yoga, but I think there are so many Indigenous cultural practices that we can do that are mindful, and that also connect you to the ancestors and knowing that this is how your family has been taking care of their mental health for years,” she shares.
The freedom of working for herself inspires Huber, knowing she doesn’t have to deal with office politics or microaggressions and that she’s in charge of her own life. She’s also inspired by all the Indigenous youth leaders and by other Indigenous entrepreneurs. To share some inspiration of her own, she would like to tell Indigenous youth, “If you have a really good idea or a good concept, be able to share that with other people to help it grow and be something… and if you feel something in your heart, you should do it."
After growing up a Sixties Scoop survivor, growing up in a non native home, not really knowing where she belongs and walking in two worlds, Charla Huber has turned that into a career, translating and trying to bring people together. Finding ways to communicate that honour Indigenous values and reaching out to find her people, she’s building connections for herself and others.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this story.
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Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.