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

Alternatives to Gangs

Program name:

Pohna: Keepers of the Fire

Organization:

Native Counselling Services of Alberta

Location:

Edmonton, Alberta

Target Group:

Aboriginal youth ages 11 – 17.

Contact Name:

Karen Erickson, Manager

Phone:

N/A

Email:

patti-laboucane@ncsa.ca

Website:

www.ncsa.ca

Program Overview
History:

The program started May 2010. It evolved over its years of operation but the focus remains on gang prevention and intervention with youth 11-17 years.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To prevent recruitment of youth into gangs and organized criminal networks; and to redirect youth involved in criminal and gang activity away from further engagement in gangs and violence.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

Sharing circles are used in meetings and interventions with youth for exploration of issues, planning and decision making. Interventions are focused on relationship building, reconciliation and self-determination. An emphasis is placed on the concept of interconnectedness for youth. Youth are also connected to Elders, who provide traditional teachings and support.

Components of program:

By focusing on the development of healthy relationships and lifestyles, the program helps young men and women move away from or avoid abusive relationships. Clients work one-to one with a youth support coordinator who helps them to identify their strengths, interests, concerns and hopes for the future; develop support plans to meet their goals and overcome challenges; helps youth navigate and reconcile relationships and challenges with systems (i.e. family, school, children's services, justice system); helps youth access supports and services; advocates for youth; creates circles of support to bring service providers together to provide integrated support services and acts as a mentor, confidante and "auntie/uncle" for youth. All youth support coordinators are Aboriginal and many have experienced similar challenges to those of the youth which creates shared history and connection with the youth.

Services/How they work:

Services are provided on site at the facility.

Funding:

Government of Alberta, Safe Communities Innovation Fund; and United Way.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

Youth are involved in making decisions and directing the type and range of services they need to meet goals and overcome challenges. Partners are involved in providing advice and support around the operation of services and access points into other systems involved in the lives of youth.

Partners:

Edmonton Police Service, Edmonton Public and Catholic Schools, Edmonton Youth Offenders Centre, Youth Probation, Children Youth Services, Youth Criminal Defence Office, Crown Prosecutors Office, REACH Edmonton.

Other relationships:

N/A

Details of Program Evaluation
Evaluation:

An evaluation has been completed.

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

The report was not made available publicly, and no specific results can be provided.

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

The program tracks changes in police interactions, charges, days in incarceration, suspensions and expulsions from school six months before involvement in program and at 12 months, and 18 months in the program. It also tracks changes in positive relationships with adults and peers, involvement with recreational and cultural activities and also the changes to access in supports and services.

Achievements:

Successfully advocating for and helping youth navigate through external systems (social services, justice), and developing positive relationships with their families, creating a sense of hope that youth can make positive changes in their lives.

Challenges:

Navigating and reconciling youths' relationships to the systems (social service, justice), and dealing with the intergenerational trauma and impact of relationships between parents and youth.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

The program is considered replicable. No advice given.

Resources:

Adequate funding, trained staff and a facility to operate out of are essential to program success.

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