Family Violence Initiative



Access to Justice Services

Program name:

Mi'kmaw Venture Project


Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network


Membertou, Eskasoni, Pictou Landing and Indian Brook, Nova Scotia

Target Group:

Youth (ages 10-14)

Contact Name:

Paula Marshall, Patrick Wilmot


902-379-2042, 902-895-1141




Program Overview

Mi'kmaw Project Venture is an experiential youth development program that relies on traditional values to help youth develop positive self-concept, effective social interaction skills, community service ethic, internal locus of self control and increased decision making and problem solving skills. The program has been running since 2009 and is currently scheduled to run for one more year (November 2012).

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To effect positive change in risk and protective factors and foster crime prevention in Aboriginal communities by adapting, developing and implementing culturally sensitive crime prevention practices to reduce violence and abuse. The program seeks to empower Indigenous youth through experiential learning, therapeutic recreation, connecting to the land, nature and territory and celebrating Mi'kmaq culture.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

Traditional values and the teachings of Elders are highlighted in every aspect of the programming. Elder knowledge transmission, guidance and counselling are fundamental to youth healing. Elders take participants on medicine walks, through the seven sacred teachings and virtues programming and lead sweat lodge ceremonies. The teachings of the Medicine Wheel through experiential learning in four (4) directions each comprises a number of exercises highlighting holistic healing and team work aspects of their journey.

Components of program:

Consists of 20 hourly sessions delivered during the school day over the course of the school year. Through classroom based activities, higher-risk youth are identified to participate in an intensive community-based program after school and throughout the summer. The afterschool / summer programs are designed to help youth plan, implement and develop internal and external assets to help them live happy, healthy lives free from substance use and violence. The community-based component includes four service learning activities that are designed to facilitate youth leadership and collaboration. Approximately 150 hours of community based activities are provided throughout the year. Recreational and cultural activities include biking, hiking, and sweat lodge ceremonies; canoeing, day treks are integrated throughout the year to help youth live healthy, active lifestyles.

Services/How they work:

Services are offered in school rooms and out in the community.


Primary funding is provided by the Department of Public Safety Canada's National Crime Prevention Centre. In kind contributions come from community partners, Chiefs and Band Council of the four participant communities and the RCMP.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

Mi'kmaw Venture Project has a community advisory committee comprised of elders, school principals, youth program officers, Aboriginal health and addictions service providers, RCMP, local police, and local Band Council members and customary leaders. Youth are selected for participation by the community advisory committees in collaboration with school principals. Elders are integral to program decision making. Community volunteers are a key component of successful summer camps and after school programming, family fun days and community feasts.


Nova Scotia Community Colleges, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey Education, North Nova Educational Centre, Tim Horton's Camp, National Indian Youth Leadership Program, Nova Scotia Universities, the RCMP, Mi'kmaw Grand Council, Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselling Association and the Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network.

Other relationships:


Details of Program Evaluation

An evaluations has been completed.

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

The program meets or exceeds its goals in all sectors and is a vital program reducing violence in Mi'kmaw communities, building self-esteem and healthy lifestyles, motivating positive community spirit amongst youth and providing alternatives to substance use.

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

Success is measured by how strong relations are with community leaders and educators, the commitment of regional police and the RCMP to the process, an increase in parental participation, participant retention and completion of the program, an increase in demand for access to the program and reduced substance abuse and violent activities among youth in the four communities served by the project.


Community commitment to the project. A very strong mentoring program has been created in each community. An ability to successfully adopt and adapt the U.S. National Indian Youth Leadership Program model in Canadian Aboriginal communities. The program celebrates the strength and beauty of Mi'kmaw ways of being and helps counter colonization and systemic discrimination.


Obtaining funding. Staff burnout is problematic. Getting parents to participate has been a challenge. The need to report to funders is time consuming.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

The program is considered replicable. Follow the curriculum of the National Indian Youth Leadership Program model and adapt it to fit local customs and capacity. Train staff well and often and provide incentives for commitment. Invest time to be able to work with each particular site's internal capacity and network with other service providers to fill in gaps. Twice a week is the minimum for after school programs. Identify local people to be responsible for each community leadership and program coordination. Use local knowledge. Build a strong volunteer network and acknowledge and reward their efforts regularly. Do extensive promotion. Build Face Book sites. Create documentaries. Allow time for curriculum development. Be flexible and prepared for anything, but safety and kids first. Always deliver consistent, reliable programming and do not disappoint the kids whenever possible by cancelling or changing the schedule.


Acquiring adequate funding for staff hiring and program costs is essential. Equipment costs, travel and food costs, rentals of facilities, staff salaries and transportation issues for getting youth home after the after school program and to summer camps and special day treks have to be factored into the budgets.