Family Violence Initiative



Family Violence Interventions

Program name:

Working Together in Unity and Solidarity to Address Family Violence


Mi'kmaq Family and Children Services of Nova Scotia


Eskasoni, Nova Scotia

Target Group:

Everyone (of the reserve community).

Contact Name:

Debbie Boyd






Program Overview

The program started in 2007. The original focus of prevention was on primary prevention, prevention education, youth focus, community groups, and public education awareness campaigns. It has now expanded to include secondary and tertiary education with special emphasis on holistic family approaches to healing. Project delivery focuses on promoting the well being of Mi'kmaq families through culturally appropriate and holistic programs and services which are community based and community paced in partnership with agency and community stakeholders.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To provide family violence education and proactive intervention through information/education sessions in all Mi'kmaw communities in Nova Scotia.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

All practices and programs are rooted in the Mi'kmaq language and cultural traditions. Oral tradition is core to the talking circles and healing circles of the program. Programs reflect the evolving revitalization of culture through healing practices. Elders instruct participants on how the past is connected to the present and woven together to move forward for the future, and how the future for Mi'kmaq people needs to be dictated by Mi'kmaq people. Smudging, prayers, sweat lodges, medicine walks, eagle fathers, family gatherings, public family celebrations, traditional dance, bead work and basket making, are used in parenting programs and community healing. Elders guide the ceremonial processes, and along with community members and professionals who are carriers of traditional knowledge and tools, perform talking and healing circles; discussing what it means to be Mi'kmaw with youth and parents.

Components of program:

Quarterly workshops are held in all First Nation communities in Nova Scotia as well as a series of specific programs. The activities include: Domestic violence education / awareness / prevention workshops; Child Safety Project – Child Sexual Assault Prevention programs; Youth gatherings – Teen Time Out; Youth/Elder Healing Blanket Project; Baby Blanket – Baby's First Relationship program; Support Groups for women affected by trauma and violence; After School Program – life skills; Media Promotion program; Interagency of Family Violence; Purple Ribbon Campaign; Parenting Programs; Sisters in Spirit Renewal Programs; Family Violence Prevention week. All of the programs are about relationships and understanding how they were interrupted through colonization, centralization, the Indian Act, the "Sixties Scoop", residential schools and current policies that continue to disempower people and encourage dependency on the system.

Services/How they work:

Services are rendered on site at the facility.


Funding is provided by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

The program uses the three C's best practice model: consultation, collaboration, and consensus. The program foundation relies on the Mi'kmaq Indigenous process and traditional ways of knowing – pivotal to the success of these programs is having an understanding of the needs of families through the lens of the community; not through the lens of service deliverers.


Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselling Association; Eskasoni Education; Eskasoni Head Start; RCMP; Cape Breton Regional Police; Membertou Elementary School; Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada; Chapel Island Board of Education; Mi'kmaw Legal Support Network; Antigonish Women's Resource Centre; Cape Breton Transition House; Leeside Transition House; Membertou Wellness and Health; Wagmatcook Board of Education; Second Chance Men's Program; Bridges Men's Program, Waycobah Health Centre; Wagmatcook Health Centre; Victim's Services of Nova Scotia; Millbrook Grandmother's Group; Pictou Landing Interagency; Paqtnekek Youth Resource Program; Canadian Red Cross Violence Prevention Program; Domestic Violence Coordinators RCMP; Elizabeth Fry; Native Women of Nova Scotia; Native Council of Nova Scotia; Department of Community Services Nova Scotia.

Other relationships:

The community.

Details of Program Evaluation

No formal evaluation has been completed.

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

Each year the program reports to funders and keeps statistical profiles on outreach and participation. Each workshop is evaluated by participants thus consumers of the program do the evaluations. Annual reports of the activities of the Mi'kmaw Family and Children's Services include the report of the activities of the "Working together in unity and solidarity to address Family Violence" program. Annual reports are delivered to the Board of Directors of the Mi'kmaw Family and Children's Services, which is comprised of the thirteen Chiefs of the Mi'kmaw Assembly of Nova Scotia. These reports are shared with other parties upon request.

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

Success is measured against the numbers of participants in the program, the ability to engage and network within the community, the volume of collaboration with key community stakeholders, participant evaluations for the program and recognition awarded to the program.


The delivery of innovative, effective, culturally relevant and meaningful family violence prevention and healing programs for diverse communities' members. Wide dissemination of a locally produced video called "The Act of Resilience" that examines the strengths of Mi'kmaw youth. The creation of "The Mi'kmaq Family Roadshow"; an education outreach program that celebrates Mi'kmaw identity and resilience and uses customary tools to help make things better for families by working collaboratively with each of the leaders, service providers and members in each community by reclaiming Mi'kmaw history and the inherent strengths of Mi'kmaw.


Obtaining funding. Timeliness of funding from government partners. Funding formulas force helping organizations to compete against one another for the same small pots of money rather than encouraging coordinated efforts. There is a lack of second stage housing on the reserve and no shelter services for men. Staffing is historically a challenge. There is high staff turnover because of low pay and low wages, as compared to similar mainstream services. Follow up is a significant challenge as transportation and contact (cell phones) are unavailable or unreliable due to socioeconomic challenges of many community members.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

The program is considered replicable. All of the workshops, program planning, objectives, goals, lesson plans, evaluations, are very transparent, accountable and accessible and are easily replicated in other communities. There are no costs to the participants.


Adequate funding to compensate staff equitably and provide programming is essential.