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Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls

Project Examples

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Below you will find examples of previously funded projects through programs that are part of the Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls.

Status of Women Canada – Women’s Program

Victoria, British Columbia –Setting the Stage for Girls and Young Women to Succeed

After many years on the sidelines, First Nations girls and young women in coastal British Columbia are stepping up to become leaders and role models in their communities. With funding from Status of Women Canada, Victoria International Development Education Association worked with aspiring young change-makers in Lil'wat (Mount Currie) and N'quatqua (D'Arcy) to overcome longstanding – and often intersecting – barriers to their success, including bullying, racism, gender-based violence and unequal access to training and opportunities.

The two-year project, which garnered widespread community support, offered participants a myriad of culturally appropriate opportunities to develop leadership skills. The girls and young women gained confidence and experience in team building, peer engagement and indigenous approaches to community leadership.

They volunteered, participated in skills development workshops and learned how to use their "voice" to affect change. They came out of the project with a better idea not only of what it takes but how it feels to lead their communities toward a better future.

North Vancouver, British Columbia – Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia's project First Line of Defence: Strengthening Aboriginal Women

A groundbreaking project in British Columbia has led to a marked improvement in services to Aboriginal women experiencing abuse. Participants in the newly completed project, carried out by the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC, point to their increased confidence and ability to protect themselves as evidence of the project's success. They also point to the recent availability of culturally sensitive tools and services and a greater awareness among service providers and the broader community of the particular needs of Aboriginal women. Working closely with band councils, a victim services working group, the local diocese, various experts and other stakeholders as well as Aboriginal women, the project has produced exemplary results and exceeded even the organizers' expectations!

"Nothing like this had ever been done in Prince George before. There were no Aboriginal-directed projects or agencies providing culturally sensitive services to Aboriginal women experiencing domestic violence. Through the project, over 300 Aboriginal women began rebuilding their lives and the lives of their children. They made strides in garnering employment, quitting smoking, leaving abusive partners, and opening bank accounts in their own name, many for the first time!"

Darlene Shackelly, Executive Director

Yukon – Liard Aboriginal Women's Society's project Together for Justice on Language, Violence and Responsibility

A recently finished project in Yukon is improving essential services to Aboriginal and northern women facing interpersonal violence. By working with law enforcement officials and service providers, the project enhanced support to women transitioning to violence-free lives. Participants developed community tools, orientation documents for the RCMP and action plans for improving social service delivery and policing to women in Yukon communities. The Together for Justice Safety Protocol, signed by Liard Aboriginal Women's Society and the RCMP on International Women's Day 2013, continues to foster closer connections and deeper understanding between police and other service providers and Aboriginal and northern women.

"Thanks to this groundbreaking project, prospects for Yukon women and girls caught in situations of violence are getting better. Along with the Yukon Women's Coalition, Aboriginal women worked with RCMP and justice officials to improve police responses to interpersonal violence."

Liard Aboriginal Women's Society

Department of Justice – Justice Partnership and Innovation Program, Violence against Aboriginal women and girls component and Victims Fund

Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia, North Vancouver, British Columbia, "Aboriginal Women's Right to Be Safe Initiative"

The Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia produced the "Aboriginal Women's Right to be Safe" booklet. The booklet is an identified best-practice resource that focuses on preventing violence, promoting victim community safety and enhancing local responses by identifying how women can view their physical environment from the perspective of increasing personal safety, and by acting as a discussion tool for further dialogue on the problems of violence against Aboriginal women in communities. It also undertakes the best-practice of drawing on the assets of Aboriginal women, having been guided by the voices of powerful, well-known and respected Aboriginal women who are role models and mentors for women and families at risk. The booklet is also used as a discussion tool in schools throughout British Columbia to engage with youth about violence against Aboriginal women in communities.

The Canadian Red Cross Society, Burnaby, British Columbia, “Resource Development for Walking the Prevention Circle”

Building on the success of Walking the Prevention Circle, one of the most highly-regarded community-based violence and abuse prevention programs specifically designed for Aboriginal communities in Canada, the Canadian Red Cross Society created new resources to expand the reach of prevention education and promote safe environments to ensure the long-term capacity for the prevention of violence and abuse in Aboriginal communities. Through this program, community members learn to define the abuse and violence in their communities, understand its origins, and begin the journey toward developing safer environments. The project enabled the organization to revise Walking the Prevention Circle to reflect Inuit history, culture, circumstances, values and content, to develop a Walking the Prevention Circle on-line course creating a new layer of access, and to translate Walking the Prevention Circle into French.

Link to the online course

Project Kare, Edmonton, Alberta, “KARE Family Support Gathering”

Project KARE organized a two day gathering to provide information and support for family members of the KARE investigations of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The gathering brought together family members to provide a venue for the creation of a natural support system among participants and to increase their awareness of victim and community services. The gathering also provided opportunities for increased communication between families and law enforcement as well as increased awareness among law enforcement about the unique needs of families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

“The entire concept of uniting families to support each other while providing speakers to assist families with increasing their coping skills was a huge success. Building relationships between victims and police was also extremely successful”

Child Advocacy Centers

Child Advocacy Centres (CAC) are child-focused centres that coordinate the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse while helping abused children. They adopt a seamless and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child and youth victims of crime. CACs seek to minimize system-induced trauma by providing a child-friendly setting for a young victim and his or her family. Child and Youth Advocacy Centres (CYAC) offer the same services as a CAC, but to a broader age-range of victims. Child Advocacy Centres bring together a multidisciplinary team of police, child protection, medical services, mental health services, and victim services. Professional services offered by CACs include coordinated forensic interviews; examination of the child by a medical professional; victim advocacy, court preparation and support; trauma assessment; and counselling.

While there are currently no Aboriginal-specific CACs in Canada, some communities are exploring the development of a CAC for Aboriginal children and youth. In addition, many Centres across Canada are building cultural competencies internally and/or working closely with Aboriginal child and family services agencies and community organizations to develop models of care to ensure they meet the needs of their Aboriginal clients. For example, Project Lynx in Whitehorse, YK, through their virtual centre, is developing culturally informed services and resources and building cultural competencies to serve their Aboriginal child clients.

Public Safety Canada – Aboriginal Community Safety Development Contribution Program

Through the Aboriginal Community Safety Development Contribution Program, Public Safety Canada has helped improve the safety and wellness of Aboriginal communities in Canada. Currently, 53 communities, including 3 urban centres, have participated in mobilization workshops, where community members discussed their resources and safety needs. Ten of these communities have developed targeted Community Safety Plans. This approach allows Aboriginal communities to take ownership of issues and potential solutions. The Community Safety Plans also allow communities to determine what resources are available within the community to be accessed and how to create an environment that promotes positive change.

The four stories below provide examples of how the Community Safety Planning process has improved the safety of Aboriginal communities in Canada.

Thompson, Manitoba

The community of Thompson began its community safety planning process with a three day mobilization workshop at the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre, the lead support organization in the community. The workshop enabled community stakeholders to collaborate on opportunities to implement community safety initiatives. Following the workshop, broader consultations were held and surveys were undertaken with some community members. The need to draw on existing supports from local organizations was identified as one of the most important issues to address. One step in this process was to develop a website that lists available services and supports across the community to link community members to available resources.

The Thompson community safety planning process helped identify contributing factors to safety issues and provides an example of how attaching the safety planning process to an established forum can be beneficial to the community.

Eabametoong First Nation, Ontario

The isolated community of Eabametoong First Nation, commonly known as Fort Hope, declared a state of emergency in October 2010. In March 2011, Public Safety Canada conducted the first community training session and worked with the community for over a year to support capacity building and community development.

Since then, the community has developed a community safety plan and has implemented activities, including a detox program, a wilderness program, and a security patrol unit. The detox program, funded by Health Canada's National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP), created a new treatment centre that has treated over 100 residents. The wilderness program, for participants of the detox program and their families, teaches traditional skills, such as healthy living, sewing, masking crafts and tools, and net setting. The community created a 30-member security patrol unit, which communicates with the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service. This initiative has led to a reduction in arson, a greater feeling of safety, and employment for community members.

The Eabametoong First Nation approach to community safety planning provides a good example of how communities can address safety needs through local consultation and partnerships.

Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Manitoba

The Opaskwayak Cree Nation is consistently pursuing strategies that enhance community life for its people. The community undertook the mobilization process supported by the Chief and Council. A Safety Plan Coordinator was subsequently hired to develop a concrete plan, including identifying roles and responsibilities in the community.

Rather than develop a new group, an existing group of community members was mandated to pursue the safety planning work. Attaching the Safety Plan initiative to the existing platform allowed the community to rejuvenate its process and provide stability in moving the safety plan activities forward.

Additionally, collaboration with local businesses continues and has resulted in the installation of security cameras to lower crime. The Opaskwayak Cree Nation safety planning process, notably the staffing of a designated Safety Plan Coordinator, has laid the ground work for the planning and implementation of initiatives to improve the safety of the community.

Peepeekisis Cree Nation, Saskatchewan

Peepeekisis Cree Nation modified the mobilization process to create a unique safety plan process to suit their needs. During the process, which was led by an experienced community mobilization facilitator, Peepeekisis Cree Nation adapted various mobilization materials and created a 52 week course titled, "The Way," which focuses on addictions, healthy relationships, the Karpman triangle, anger management and domestic violence. Some of the trained participants from the course also formed the group, "Healing Hands," and they meet weekly to voluntarily assist community members with a variety of physical healing needs.

Overall, the Peepeekisis Cree Nation's method of addressing domestic violence issues is a good example of how communities can adapt a successful model to meet the needs of their community. This method will help them plan and implement initiatives in the future.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northen Development Canada’s – Family Violence Prevention Program

Kitigan Zibi, Quebec – Sharing information about preventing family violence through a wellness planner/calendar

In Kitigan Zibi First Nation community, the spotlight is on family violence prevention thanks to a Family Wellness Planner/Calendar project that brings information about family violence prevention to the community. The calendar was given to each child attending local schools in the Kitizan Zibi area during the 2014–2015 school year.

The calendar which covers September 2014 to August 2015 also features recipes from community members and phone numbers for the help line, community, medical transportation, the women's crisis shelter and youth protection, as well as addresses for informative websites.

It reinforces healthy family relationships by showing a child's reactions to domestic violence from an infant stage to their teenage years. The main objective of the project was to increase awareness about family violence, and to have useful information at hand for family members.

As part of the Enhanced Prevention Services program of the Kitigan Zibi Health & Social Services, the Family Wellness Planner/Calendar is their most recent initiative in making family violence prevention information more visual, practical and accessible to Kitigan Zibi's community members.

Wapikoni Mobile initiative making positive impacts on the lives of hundreds of First Nations youth

Wapikoni Mobile is an innovative project that engages First Nations youth by using film and music as an intervention tool for youth dealing with domestic violence or consumption problems such as alcohol and drug abuse in their families. After the band council extends an invitation to Wapikoni Mobile to visit the community, the travelling studio works closely with many local partners such as schools, health center, primary care services, and community radio agents to deliver four consecutive weeks of practical workshops led by two filmmaking trainers and a youth worker. These workshops allow youth from across the country to freely express themselves through a video or a song they create and then present to their communities. This enables youth participants to become empowered, and to build their identity, pride and self-esteem. The workshops allow participants to speak freely and to confide about their family or personal situation. The speaking is a part of the healing process in the holistic approach advocated by First Nations and is a powerful tool for these youth participants.

The Wapikoni Mobile initiative is making positive impacts on the lives of hundreds of First Nations youth by giving its participants the opportunity to discover new interests that motivate them to return to or stay in school and pursue further education goals and a career. It has also brought beneficial effects such as decreased drug use and violence, and healthier lifestyles for the youth participants. The young women and men who go through the Wapikoni Mobile initiative come out with a positive experience. This may help prevent violent behavior toward women. Finally, through audiovisual and musical creation, the youth also have an opportunity to rediscover their language and culture.

"I feel that putting the things that are hard to talk about on the screen helps to deal with it. It also makes dialogue and awareness on these issues. It was a very positive experience for me, both personally and in a professional working manner. I would certainly attend another Wapikoni stopover. Wapikoni brings issues that the participants see around them to light for the whole community to see and think about and larger audiences as well."

Craig Commanda, program participant

Alberta First Nations Chiefs are taking action to prevent Family Violence

At the direction of the Alberta First Nation Chiefs, the Three Eagle Wellness Society was formed in 1991. The Board of Directors consists of representatives from the three Treaty areas in Alberta. The objective of the Society is to manage the prevention projects funded through Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Family Violence Prevention Program. This aggregated funding aims to maximize the reach in benefit for all First Nation communities in Alberta. The Society has an administrator who works with the Alberta First Nations in preparing project proposals, provides training to First Nation Coordinators; collect the required reports from the First Nations who received project funding and works with the auditors on the annual audit submission to AANDC.

In addition to funding individual First Nation projects, the Society has hosted a series of Youth Gatherings where the objectives of the gathering are to engage First Nation youth in discussions about drugs, alcohol and to provide prevention training that they can deliver in their home communities. In 2009-2010, the Government of Alberta provided $75K to Three Eagle Wellness Society in support of the Annual Youth Gathering.

The Society also forms partnerships with other organizations. For example, in 2008-2009, the Society formed a partnership with First Nations and Inuit Health branch of Health Canada regarding the Blood Borne Pathogens initiative. This initiative was included in workshops with the First Nation Coordinators and at the Annual Youth Gathering. The partnership continued into fiscal year 2011-2012.

About the Artist - Winnie Tatya

image of Women with Birds  by Inuit artist Winnie Tatya, from the Collection of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Reproduced with the permission of Winnie Tatya.

The banner above includes an image of Women with Birds by Inuit artist Winnie Tatya, from the Collection of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Reproduced with the permission of Winnie Tatya.

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