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SafeCom funds to reduce harm among Blood Tribe teens

by NationTalk on September 9, 20091157 Views

September 9, 2009

Pilot project to focus on building youth leadership through culture

Lethbridge… Reducing the potential for harm and increasing scholastic achievement among Blood Tribe teenagers is the goal of a new three-year Safe Communities (SafeCom) pilot project.Supported by the Alberta government, the pilot project will address risk factors such as alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse that harm families and can lead to violence and other criminal behaviour.

“The pilot project will focus on protective factors, including the Blackfoot culture, that will allow young people in high school to discover their own strengths, resilience and leadership skills,” said Aboriginal Relations Minister Gene Zwozdesky. “It will promote a strong, safe community free of alcohol and drug abuse and violence.”

The initiative is modeled after the U.S.-based Leadership and Resiliency Program (LRP) – a year-round school and community-based course designed to enhance internal strengths and resiliency and to prevent involvement in substance use and violence.

The program will be customized to meet the needs of Blood youth by providing access to culturally appropriate resources including Elders, addictions counselling, victim services and police services. It aims to involve up to 100 teens and their families each year.

“Our Elders speak of real people – people who possess knowledge of their history, language and culture,” said Pam Heavy Head, a Blood Tribe member and project manager with the Canadian Red Cross Society, which is delivering the initiative. “We want our youth to know that real people can enjoy life without drugs, alcohol and other substances that harm not only themselves but their families and community as well.”

Steve Armstrong, provincial director of the Red Cross said the agency is grateful for the Alberta government’s continued partnership in projects that reach out to Aboriginal youth.

“Our mission to improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens is a goal shared by the government as shown by our joint commitment to the Leadership and Resiliency Program,” he said.

Funding for the $1.1-million program will flow as $300,000 in year one; $360,000 in year two; and $450,000 in year three. The program is one of 18 projects addressing at-risk youth funded through Alberta’s Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF). The fund builds on the work of the Safe Communities initiative to address crime on an immediate basis, as well as over the long-term. Funding criteria, application forms, and a list of the first year SCIF projects are available at http://justice.gov.ab.ca/safe/scif.aspx
Backgrounder: Red Cross wants Blood youth to be community role models

Media inquiries may be directed to:

Marie Iwanow
Communications
Aboriginal Relations
Cell: 780-863-1322
marie.iwanow@gov.ab.ca
To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.

Nancy Beasley Hosker
Communications Co-ordinator
Canadian Red Cross
780-702-4159
nancy.beasleyhosker@redcross.ca


September 9, 2009

Red Cross wants Blood youth to be community role models

Canadian Red Cross
The Canadian Red Cross is delivering the Reducing Drug, Alcohol, Tobacco Use and Violence Among Blood Tribe Youth pilot project, funded by the Government of Alberta’s Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF).

The Red Cross has maintained an office serving the 7,555 on-reserve members of the Blood Tribe for 10 years and has identified a number of challenges facing the community – physical and psychological abuse; drug and alcohol dependency; significant high school drop-out rates; rising rates of HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases; and gang membership that threatens healthy family relationships.

Drawing on the expertise of a number of local supports including tribal Elders, the Kainai Wellness Centre, the Kainai Community Corrections Society, the Blood Tribe Police and schools, the Red Cross will work directly with 100 young people aged 14 to19 – the future leaders of the Blood Tribe. In each of the next three years the project will provide these youth and their families with the tools, knowledge, experience and support needed to overcome personal, family and community challenges.

Program Model
The initiative is modeled after the U.S.-based Leadership and Resiliency Program (LRP) – a year-round school and community-based course designed to enhance internal strengths and resiliency and to prevent involvement in substance use and violence.

Aboriginal cultural awareness will be integrated throughout the program with the goals of helping the youth – and the community – come to a deeper understanding of their history, culture and heritage. Their participation is expected to positively impact their siblings, peers, parents and the community. The project consists of three main strategies:

•In-school activities: Facilitated weekly meetings with their peer group.
•Alternative activities: Camps, hikes and horse trail rides in partnership with local police and social services to strengthen relationships, reduce fear of these community leaders and encourage trust and communication.
•Community service: Clean-up projects during which they learn about their own community and culture; caring for abused animals; and teaching younger children how to be positive and how to protect themselves from harmful influences.

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