Bent Arrow was created in 1994 when Brad and Shauna Seneca identified the need for programming for Aboriginal children and families that would be based in traditional Indigenous teachings. The couple had received funding from a federal program called Pathways a year earlier to provide a program for Aboriginal youth between the ages of 15 and 24 who wanted to return to school, enter training programs, or find employment. The program was so successful that a year later Brad and Shauna established the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society with the support of Elders, funders, and the community.

When they were trying to find a name for the society, Brad and Shauna recalled a traditional story about a warrior and hunter who designed his bow and arrows with near perfect straightness. Bent arrows would not find their mark and families would go hungry for days. Like the bent arrows, some people have simply veered off of their path. They are not broken. And they have the potential, with some guidance and support, to walk a straighter path and hit their target. Nobody is broken, but sometimes, like the arrow, we’re a little bent. Hence, the name Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society.

Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society
Shauna Seneca, Co-founder of Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society
April 3, 1957 – December 14, 2006

Shauna was born on April 3, 1957 and raised in Edmonton. Her career started in the Income Support Program with Alberta Family and Social Services in 1981 where she worked for 10 years and then moved on to manage an employment and pre-employment program. During this time, she developed curriculum and workshops to support individuals and families that were looking for wholisitic interventions.

At the beginning of her career, Shauna embraced the effectiveness of home visitation, relationship-based practice, and working with families from a strength-based approach. Her greatest teachers became the individuals and families she served. As a result, her commitment to working from a wholisitic approach was established. Shauna quickly realized that the more proactive workers were, and the earlier supports and services were made available to families, the more likely families were to access and benefit from these supports. Shauna sat on many committees and boards and played a major role in training nation-wide for the Invest in Kids Foundation.

Shauna believed that her passion for what she did and who she worked with kept her energized and committed. She felt honored by the gifts the people and families she worked with shared with her through their personal stories and healing journeys.

Shauna had high expectations of herself and her employees to meet the needs of the people who Bent Arrow serves. These expectations focus on living healthy lifestyles and the ability to balance the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of our lives. The programs, services, and supports offered by Bent Arrow and its community partners provide opportunities for achieving this balance.

At first, the Elders were critical in the establishment and ongoing development of Bent Arrow and they were clear that “Your Actions Speak Louder Than Your Words.” Shauna built her practice and her personal journey knowing what was most important would be judged not by what she said but by what she did.

In 1994, Shauna and her husband Brad created the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society to help children, youth, and families in achieving their goals and their dreams. Bent Arrow was, and continues to be, based on traditional teachings and values, and on meeting the needs of the people it serves by providing a healthy and energized environment where everyone is a part of the “Bent Arrow Family.”