The purpose of the Children Who Witness Violence Program is to provide one-to-one support, counselling and group interventions for Urban Indigenous children ages 7–14 who have been exposed to some form of violence. It will incorporate tools to support positive development and healthy life choices as they grow. It is the intention of the program that children involved will be able to recognise experienced violent behaviour and develop an understanding that violence is not a normal aspect of life. Through this process, children and families will be able to assess consequences of violent behavior and learn healthy alternative approaches. The design of this program is based on one fundamental principle: to develop healthy familial relationships and an understanding of violence through a wholistic model of care that is underpinned by cultural knowledge.
Children suffer the impact of violence physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually accompanied by feelings of anger, despair, and sadness. The range of effects resulting from exposure to violence on children may include social and academic challenges, fears and worries about themselves, their sibling(s) and parent safety. Somatic complaints, intrusive thoughts, compromised coping skills and attachment issues are also identified as common responses. In addition, children living and struggling with violence issues within their family homes are further traumatized when they are forced to flee their homes, resulting in issues of poverty, housing insecurity, inadequate basic life skills, low education, drug abuse and suicide. Children are impacted and actively respond to these experiences with various coping mechanisms. These responses impact individuals at various stages of their life and require wholistic supports to manage the trauma and its related behavior.
To address this, the program is grounded in Indigenous cultural and developmental perspectives and approaches to healing that cater to individualized and family needs. This program takes a wholistic approach to providing children and families with cultural resources, education, knowledge and personal supports. The program objective is to foster child development through the lens of the Indigenous life cycle wheel and healing continuum. Part of this program includes the integration of Indigenous communities, school groups, external service providers and internal Friendship Centre programming.
To address intergenerational experiences of violence and to mitigate the impact of witnessing violence for children and families. The program provides supports to Indigenous parents/caregivers, community partners and organizations, for the development of tools to develop and strengthen individual, familial, and community responses to ending violence against women and children
- In a safe one-to-one environment, children will learn how to identify the effects of violence and develop strategies to promote healthy coping;
- Through a group culture-based approach, create an environment of kinship to increase and foster a sense of pride in each child;
- Parents/caregivers develop an increased understanding of the impact of family violence from their child’s perspective;
- Increase healthy and respectful relationships between children, parents, caregivers, siblings and their peers; and,
- Increase participation of community partners, members and organizations by providing tools and resources to develop an effective community response to ending the victimisation of and violence against Urban Indigenous children and women.
Urban Indigenous children who are victims of violence or been exposed to violence, ages 7 – 14.
Direct-Service User Capacity
20 minimum caseload throughout the year
- One-to-One Counselling
- Family Centred Counselling
- Age-Appropriate, Culture-Based Group Activities
- Family Group Workshops/Support Circles
- Community Capacity Building
- Prevention and awareness workshops/training/consultations delivered
- Community/service provider requests for workshops/training/consultations
- Community awareness events
- Actively involved community partners
- Promotional activities/initiatives/campaigns generated to raise awareness
- Promotional/awareness materials developed
- Participant-based Activities (focused on group, rather than individual)
- Cultural Activities/Practices (focused on group, rather than individual)