Family Violence Initiative

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

ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES

Healing and Reintegration of Offenders

Program name:

Seven Sparks Healing Path Program

Organization:

Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre

Location:

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Target Group:

Offenders (male and female) ages 18 - 50

Contact Name:

Pam Glode Desrochers, Executive Director

Phone:

902-420-1576

Email:

pglode@eastlink.ca

Website:

www.mymnfc.com

Program Overview
History:

The Seven Sparks Healing Path program began in 2009.The demand for the programming is increasing. The programming has expanded to accommodate a holistic approach to family healing and wellness. The Friendship Centre has had to hire more staff to assist with program delivery.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To support the healing and reintegration of Aboriginal federal offenders into the community upon their release; to provide a spectrum of services, supports and interventions ranging from drug and alcohol counselling and living skills to education and employability skills development; to help reintegrate people leaving correctional facilities into the community; and to address violent behaviour with programs like anger management and talking circles.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

All activities of the program are designed within traditional Native practices and values that are based on the customary principles of restorative justice. Traditional cultural activities are a mainstay of the program's design to help clients reaffirm self-identity and connect with their culture and community in a holistic manner.

Components of program:

Offenders are referred by federal correctional institutions, Mi'kmaq Legal Support Network, and the Tawaak Aboriginal Housing. Walk-ins are also accepted. The program offers referrals to services that directly address family violence and sexual abuse. There is a spousal support program that offers offenders' families access to support groups, activities and talking circles. There is an anti-violence youth program offered as well.

Services/How they work:

Services are provided on site at the facility.

Funding:

Funding is provided by the Department of Public Safety Canada Aboriginal Corrections Policy Unit; the Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre; and the Tawaak Housing Association.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

Community ownership dictates the programming designs and makes them meaningful.

Partners:

Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselling Association; Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network; Tawaak Aboriginal Housing Service; Healing Our Nations; Urban Aboriginal Strategy; and the Halifax Police Service.

Other relationships:

N/A

Details of Program Evaluation
Evaluation:

An evaluation is currently in progress (2012).

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

N/A

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

Success is measured by how many people access the program, feedback given by family members of clients and tracking the employment and housing needs of the participants and making sure they are met.

Achievements:

The program helps men to find and maintain steady employment. A marked decrease in violent behaviour among men participating in the program has been a success.

Challenges:

Obtaining funding. The program does not have the capacity to deal with the needs of sexual offenders. The poor condition of the program's facility space has been a challenge. Staff have had to ask people to leave the program because they have been inappropriate with staff, threatening behaviour, sexual harassment. This is a rare occurrence, but a big challenge when it arises.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

The program is considered replicable. People need to be aware of the obstacles put up by the "Not In My Backyard" mentality, particularly when working with Aboriginal offenders. Systemic racism and discrimination are very real factors that must be addressed in programming. Every community is different – what works here may not work in another place.

Resources:

Adequate funding, properly trained staff and facility space for the programming would be necessary to ensure the program's success.

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