Family Violence Initiative

COMPENDIUM OF PROMISING PRACTICES TO REDUCE VIOLENCE AND INCREASE SAFETY OF ABORIGINAL WOMEN IN CANADA – COMPENDIUM ANNEX: DETAILED PRACTICE DESCRIPTIONS

INTERACTIONS WITHIN COMMUNITIES

Family Violence Interventions

Program name:

Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society

Organization:

Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society

Location:

Calgary, Alberta

Target Group:

Women

Contact Name:

Josie Nepinak, Executive Director

Phone:

403-531-1970 ext: 202

Email:

josien@awotaan.org

Website:

www.awotaan.org

Program Overview
History:

In 1993, the Lodge was opened as an interim women's shelter. What started as a 23 bed facility with one outreach worker has evolved into a facility that offers eleven programs, providing more comprehensive services to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women and children who have experienced family violence and abuse.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To provide services based on Native traditional teachings, to women and their family members from all cultures, who have experienced family violence.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

The approach that Awo Taan takes to working with women and families is a traditional, holistic and spiritual based model that uses a strengths-based approach to working with whole families and the community. The model is consistent with traditional Aboriginal healing.

Components of program:

The program serves as a 24 hour crisis shelter providing counselling, support services, referrals and education in family violence and safety. It also provides cultural support to clients in the form of Elders counselling, cultural awareness workshops, traditional teachings and referrals to Elders and Aboriginal services. Child support is made available by means of counselling, healing circles/storytelling, play sessions and safety lessons. In addition to this, a Parent Link program is offered that provides in-home support by two certified facilitators. There is also an outreach element to the program that focuses on building healthy support structures, and developing peer support.

Services/How they work:

Services are provided on site at the facility or out in the community.

Funding:

Human Services, Province of Alberta; Family and Community Support Services, City of Calgary; the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada; Region 3: Calgary and Area Child and Family Services.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

The governing body of the board is 60% Aboriginal, allowing for culturally relevant and culturally sensitive decision making.

Partners:

Alberta Council of Women's Shelters; Friendship Centre; Native Services; Parent Link Centre; Women's Centre; Calgary School Board; Police; Hospitals; Family violence prevention hot line; and Schools.

Other relationships:

Community members; and other shelters in the province.

Details of Program Evaluation
Evaluation:

No evaluation has been completed.

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

N/A

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

Success is measured by the attendance levels of the programs offered and client feedback on the programs.

Achievements:

The program has saved numerous lives and kept women and children safe. An Aboriginal Framework for Healing and Wellness has also been developed and is widely used.

Challenges:

Obtaining funding, and specifically a lack of long term funding.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

The program is considered replicable. Program organizers need to have a willingness to learn; a strong financial background; an experienced management team; properly trained staff; an overarching philosophy or vision and community support.

Resources:

Sufficient funding and properly trained staff are essential to making the program successful.

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