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

Healthy Relationships: Children and Youth

Program name:

Walking the Path Together

Organization:

Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS)

Location:

Alberta Reserves

Target Group:

Girls and Boys between the ages of 6 and 8.

Contact Name:

Dorothy Sam

Phone:

780-456-7000

Email:

dorothy.sam@acws.ca

Website:

www.acws.ca/walkingthepath

Program Overview
History:

The program started in July 2009. It is still on-going but ends on June 30, 2012 – as it was a 3-year pilot project. The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters is trying to get an extension of the program.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To end the intergenerational cycle of violence with the children, so that when they grow older, they're not accepting violence in any of their relationships or as part of their lives; and to increase their appreciation and sense of pride of their First Nations heritage

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

The program focuses on a traditional Indigenous philosophy to achieve its goals. The staff are trained using Medicine Wheel teachings, talking circles and there is an inclusion of Elders as mentors. The workers in the community are called Eagle Feather workers and they report to the women's shelter Executive Directors (EDs) in their communities.

Components of program:

The program is designed to teach young girls and boys not to accept violence in their relationships with other children, siblings, and caregivers. There are also life skills and domestic abuse workshops available through women's shelters offered to adult women. The workers in the program report directly to the Executive Directors of their communities. Program direction is arrived at through consensus of the stakeholders (program directors, workers and the community involved in the program). When a woman comes into a shelter, a danger assessment tool is used to rate the risk of lethality in her situation. People can be certified to deliver this assessment, and it's a part of the program's process to ensure the safety of women and the workers; since workers do home visits, take children to events like powwows, visit with parents, and accompany clients on other appointments. The program works to ensure that all staff are safe too.

Services/How they work:

Services are provided on site at the facility.

Funding:

Funding provided by the Department of Justice Canada; the Department of Public Safety's National Crime Prevention Centre; and the Alberta Safe Communities Innovative Funds (SCIF)

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

Community directors plan their activities and involve women and men as to what workshops they administer, and program workers go into the communities and meet with participants to receive their feedback. Some shelters establish very good working relationships with schools, the RCMP, and child welfare but every community is different. The program works closely with all the communities that are their program partners.

Partners:

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC); Ermineskin Women's Shelter Society (Maskwaci); Bigstone Cree Nation Women's Emergency Shelter (Wabasca); Paspew House Women's Shelter (Fort Chipewayan); Sucker Creek Emergency Women's Shelter (Enilda); and the Eagle's Nest Stoney Family Shelter (Morley); the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System.

Other relationships:

John Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore, who created the danger assessment tool used in all the women's shelters in Alberta.

Details of Program Evaluation
Evaluation:

No evaluation has been completed.

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

N/A

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

The program's success is measured against the ability of clients to make better life choices once services have been provided to them.

Achievements:

Children in the program have left gangs, returned to school and become involved in sports. Parents have overcome their addictions and become stronger caregivers.

Challenges:

Difficulty in building a partnership with Child Welfare Services.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

The program is considered replicable. Networking and collaboration among other agencies is needed to ensure the program can meet clients' needs.

Resources:

Sufficient funding, adequate space to provide services and properly trained staff are necessary for the program to succeed.

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