Get to Know our Experts: Katrin Sawatzky
Open Eye relies on the amazing talent of our Experts, whose experience and capabilities span the globe and a variety of industries. This Q&A will help you get to know what experiences Katrin Sawatzky brings to Open Eye.
Open Eye excitedly welcomes Katrin Sawatzky (she/her) to our collective of global expert partners. An Indigenous ally and settler on Treaty 3 Territory, Katrin partners with Indigenous communities to broaden locally-based exercises and policies that address housing, prosperity, autonomy and well-being — ultimately strengthening community.
On this sunny and cool September day, it has been an absolute pleasure for us to sit down and connect with Katrin.
At Open Eye, we have all come from diverse backgrounds. What are some of your career or personal highlights to date?
Katrin: Experiencing project successes with a community – whether it be a 12-acre farm that was created on a fly-in reserve to address issues of food security, developing a housing policy with a community to increase the rights, quality and access to on-reserve housing, or designing healing lodges that offer holistic, land-based healing and cultural reclamation – each of these wins were followed by a community feast and celebration!
At the end of the day, every single day is different yet rewarding when you’re working to decolonize the system at play and advance a community’s vision for their future in an equitable way.
What is something that you wish you would have known sooner?
Katrin: That you can’t go at 110% all the time; burnout and compassion fatigue are very real! Take lots of breaks, honor where you’re at, check in with your colleagues and ask for support when you need it. A high level of self-awareness will get you far in this industry.
Part of The Open Eye Way is to listen to our clients more than we speak. Why is this important?
Deep listening is a must, especially when working with Indigenous partners to foster trust and respect. It’s about creating space that allows clients to fully show up and speak what’s on their hearts; it’s about honoring the wisdom of the Elders, the Traditional Knowledge passed down generation-to-generation, and allowing clients to lead the process. ‘Circle’ is a facilitation tool I use often in my practice. It’s a powerful framework used for deep communication, a practice that brings people together to understand one another, make decisions, solve problems and build community. Circle has resonated with me as a profound tool and symbol for reconciliation, wholeness and an understanding that answers present themselves in the process.
We all try to bring a lot to the table at Open Eye. What’s your superpower?
Katrin: I would say it’s deep listening, empathy and my obsessive organization (I’m the girl with the tabbed, color-coded, meticulously organized and highlighted pages!).
What does a really good work day look like for you?
Katrin: A day that has a little bit of everything in it! Starting off with a good coffee and morning hike with my dog, followed by meetings and emails with my staff, clients and stakeholders to brief everyone on project progress. [I also] enjoy some time dedicated to site visits and building relationships, followed by a chunk of time where I can just work away for a few hours independently on the research and planning task at hand. If I am on-reserve, the day always finishes off with fishing or spending some time on the land.
Our experts bring their rich experiences to each client engagement. Describe a failure and what you learnt from it.
Katrin: Understanding that this work is long-term means walking with a community through the successes and the failures. Oftentimes we’re at mercy of Canada’s provincial and federal funding opportunities and when funds dry up or change direction important community projects don’t always receive the financial support they need to survive. Walking with a community, changing, growing and adapting to the powers at play has been so key – resiliency is at the core of what we do and how we navigate failures.
What is the most rewarding part of helping a business to grow?
Katrin: For me, the most special part is bearing witness to someone’s journey – helping where I can to support their vision and build capacity, but ultimately the most rewarding part is seeing them learn, grow and gain the wisdom that can only be gained through lived experience.
How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance? What do you love to do in your spare time?
Katrin: By doing things that use a completely different part of my brain in my off-hours – when I’m not working on community projects, I’m playing drums in a rock band with my husband and friends. We had the honor of releasing our first vinyl and touring Spain this summer, something so vastly different than my day-to-day work! I also enjoy mentoring other young women through a partnership I have with a local college and taking them on as interns during their studies.
- Change Management
- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Work with Katrin!
Are you ready to talk to one of our experts about your project? The door is wide open, we can’t wait to meet you!