Dr. Cindy Blackstock on the Breath of Life Theory and Leadership

Picture of Cindy Blackstock

Dr. Cindy Blackstock is a leader with great humility who models the way.

Dr. Blackstock is a member of the Gitksan First Nation, child welfare activist, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and professor for the School of Social Work at McGill University. She wrote on the emergence of the breath of life theory, proposing a theory rooted in First Nations ontology and physics’ theory of everything (Blackstock, 2011) and revisited it in 2019. Dr. Blackstock talks with Dr. Kathy Bishop, MAL-XL program head, on The Breath of Life Theory and Leadership.

Dr. Blackstock shares:

  • how the Breath of Life (BoL) theory came to be
  • an overview of BoL
  • some key values
  • and, insights on how leaders might draw upon BoL

Check out the full interview here

This interview is included as part of the MAL-XL curriculum. On April 19, 2021, the School of Leadership Studies launched its new MA specialization in executive leadership (MAL-XL). The purpose of the program is to strengthen the character and capabilities of senior organizational leaders. Curriculum content centers around values-based leadership, co-creating culture, and developing organizations of innovation. By drawing upon theory, and meaningfully integrating it into practice, leaders are able to live their learning to make a difference in the world through their organizations.


Blackstock, C. (2011). The emergence of the breath of life theory. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics8(1).

Blackstock, C. (2019). Revisiting breath of life theory.  British Journal of Social Work, 49, 854-859.