Find Your Tribe

Badge of Life Canada / Insigne de vie Canada often talks about the term #FindYourTribe.

Who’s in your Tribe?

What does the term actually mean?

Your Tribe can be anyone you are truly connected with, like your family, such as parents, siblings, your own children, spouse, partner, loved ones.


Your Tribe can also be the community at large that you work, live, reside and play within.

Your Tribe can be a particular service group, faith and religious group, running club, art group, music group, any host of charitable causes and the list can go on and on.

Your Tribe essentially are your passions.

For many reasons, many people feel that they can never really find their Tribe. They can often feel like they are swimming upstream along a gravel river bed that contains no water. You never feel quite like you fit in – anywhere or with any particular group. You are passion-less.

First Responder Tribe

The majority of candidates applying for a job as a First Responder generally have to demonstrate their community involvement to the recruiting branch of the organization they have applied to prior to getting hired. This is usually a universal step in the hiring process and multiple applicants volunteer numerous hours each month in hopes of building up their resumes for the application submission. This demonstrates that the candidate is indeed a member of the community and in fact belongs to a Tribe. Without this, the chances of being offered employment can be limited.

However, during the course of a career, First Responders can often disassociate themselves from such Tribe connections. Generally speaking, many reasons can contribute to this disassociation, such as shift work, overtime, burnout, mental health (etc) to name a few. But the underlaying reasons for losing track of our Tribe is the fact that the job of a First Responder can consume your life to the point where you are the job. We spend so much time either getting ready for work, coming home from work, at work, hanging with the people from work, along with overtime and training, to the point where that the job is what consumes our every waking thoughts. The job defines us. We become the job so to speak. That is our identity.

Poor Work-Life Balance:

This mindset can often lead to a poor work-life balance, a change in personality, a lack of trust in the community, which can lead to an even greater narrowing of who we might choose to associate with in our free time. That unfortunately, many times is a place where you can zone out from the surrounding world without anyone else bothering you.

This can further erode our previous roles and responsibilities with our Tribe, like being a parent, sibling, friend, member of a charitable community group, church group or other leisure activity type involvement with groups, such as sports, music, art (etc). These can all be important roles. But we can fail miserably at them due to such dissociation from our Tribe members.

The Abyss

First Responders who find themselves diagnosed and dealing with an operational stress injury, such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, moral injury, sanctuary trauma, and perceived injustices from the employer, often turn around to look to their Tribe for support. Only to discover that there is no one left waiting. This can further spiral the member down into the rabbit hole, with feelings of loneliness, lack of support and abandonment.


It is not until we are ready to cross the threshold, with the assistance of mentors and allies along the journey, that we can truly have a transformation towards growth and recovery. Such growth forces us to become vulnerable – by letting others know that we are not perfect, but are willing to take steps that puts us ‘out there’ – back into the community – where we can begin to build our Tribe again.

A few tips to turning things around:

  • First Responders are special people who care deeply about service to the community. But we are still people and not really that more special than any other person. Break down barriers by allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your family, friends, loved ones and groups that hold similar interests outside of your employment where you can be active with a sense of fulfillment.
  • Remember the passion you had during your own trials and tribulations that went into getting the job in the first place. Do those feelings still exist about those passions – or do you need to find a new set of passions that allow growth and self-realization.
  • Surround yourself with a Tribe that has like minded ideals, are authentic and gives you a sense of passion about life.
  • Avoid judgement of others. We are not perfect ourselves. Don’t always demand perfection from others. Look into the inner passion of others. You might actually discover that you share some very similar interests that have never been shared before.
  • Breakdown your own defence barriers – but set healthy boundaries at the same time. The Tribe you choose must allow you to show vulnerability but also provide a sense of community and safety that allows you to open yourself up to others without fear of judgement.
  • Don’t wait for your Tribe to find you….after all…the motto is actually #FindYour Tribe. Look into yourself. You will find that you may already be aware of what some of your passions actually are. Tap into those passions to find where that can lead you.
  • The destination is not our passion. It is the journey where our passions lay and the people who come into our life along the journey that truly counts.
  • Do not accept defeat. Ever. Do not quit on finding your passion. Ever. There is no defeat as long as we do not quit.

There can be no better feeling in the world than discovering your true passions while reconnecting with our Tribe. We need our Tribe. Our Tribe needs us too. It is never too late or too early to work on developing your own Tribe. Regardless the size of each stride made, the journey will continue, forward….always.

Who’s in your Tribe?





About the Author: Bill Rusk, B.A., (Sgt. retired) is a retired 30-year policing veteran who has been involved in numerous serious traumatic events throughout his career with two separate police agencies. Bill has the dubious Canadian distinction of being the only modern day police officer, shot in the line of duty, where no suspect has ever been identified or charged. Bill has received numerous acknowledgements and recognition during a distinguished career. Bill has been heavily involved in police association work having served two-terms as a Director for the Police Association of Ontario (PAO) and the Ontario Police Memorial Foundation (OPMF). Bill is now the volunteer executive director for Badge of Life Canada.