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:

Empowering Our Little Sisters Project

Organization:

Kanikanichihk

Location:

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Target Group:

Aboriginal girls ages 10 – 14.

Contact Name:

Lorraince Desmarais

Phone:

N/A

Email:

ldean@kanikanichihk.ca

Website:

N/A

Program Overview
History:

The program began in 2005 as a result of suicides of young women in the community. The women in the community said this was enough and wanted to provide a healthy alternative. It started at Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BB/BS) of Winnipeg and moved to Kanikanichichk in 2009. It has been continuous, however, there has been a change in the focus. The pairing of the big sisters was difficult because there weren't enough big sisters. When the term came up, BB/BS decided it wasn't a good fit for them anymore. The women who originated the program came to Kanikanichichk to ask if they could take on the program. From there on there was no more pairing of a little sister with an older sister; the program became focused on group mentoring.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To empower the youth and help them regain their pride in their self-identifying as Aboriginal girls, reducing their vulnerability to violence and abuse; to make the bonds between mothers and daughters stronger and healthier.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

The youth use traditional medicines, such as tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass. There are prayers that can be done in groups or, individually with an Elder. Everything the program offers is focused on healing. Smudges occur before every event. Sharing circles are run frequently. The program also offers access to ceremonies such as: pipe ceremony, sweat lodges, and Elders' teachings.

Components of program:

The program is exclusively for Aboriginal girls ages 10-14. They meet every Monday and Wednesday and the second Friday of the month. On Mondays they work on crafting powwow regalia. Wednesdays were added to increase time to teach the girls how to powwow dance. The program educates the youth on the traditional roles and responsibilities of Aboriginal women. Through an exploration of their cultural roots the participants learn to be proud of their heritage and of themselves and their identity as young Aboriginal women. The program partners children with mentors who share experiences and serve as role models to the young girls. The aim is to instil within the participants how important it is for them to, in the future, serve as positive role models as mothers to their own children. Elders help facilitate sharing circles and provide teachings to the participants. Through their learning, the girls become empowered and gain confidence in themselves as future knowledge holders for their communities.

Services/How they work:

The program operates in house for much of the time. However community travel is done when the girls go to ceremonies and powwows.

Funding:

Funding comes from Big Brothers and Big Sisters; the United Way; and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

By working with the families (mother/daughter relationships) the program affects the greater community through each family's achieving a healthier bond with each other. The program also gains awareness through the community powwows that the girls attend and dance at in their regalia.

Partners:

Broadway Avenue Neighbourhood Centre.

Other relationships:

N/A

Details of Program Evaluation
Evaluation:

An evaluation has been completed.

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

Report is available on request.

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

Success is measured by the continuation of cultural knowledge and the passing on of that knowledge from one generation to the next. Success is also measured by the fostering and maintaining of richer and deeper, more fulfilling relationships between participating mothers and daughters.

Achievements:

Graduates of the program have become successful and gone on to fulfilling careers and post-secondary educational institutes.

Challenges:

Obtaining funding. Only funding girls and women, but the whole family needs to be helped to make real substantial progress. Limited human resources as the program is operated by a single individual.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

Replication is possible. Potential program designers would need to know how mentoring works, and how it can be community driven. The designers would also need cultural knowledge on how to make powwow regalia, protocols when working with Elders and have knowledge of an Indigenous world view.

Resources:

More staffing would make the program more successful as one individual can get bogged down by the paperwork side of the program which makes it difficult to facilitate the teaching of the clients.

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