Family Violence Initiative



Healthy Relationships: Women

Program name:

NAWN Train the Trainers Programme


NAWN (Newfoundland Aboriginal Women's Network)


Stephenville, Newfoundland

Target Group:


Contact Name:

Linda Wells





Program Overview

The initial train-the-trainer program started in 2007, with the training of 58 Aboriginal women representing 26 communities across the island. After the initial training, funding was sought to allow the community based facilitators to implement 220 culturally-based workshops over a four year time period. The program continued to seek further project funding to allow for the continuation of workshop delivery and facilitator capacity building in other areas of violence awareness and prevention. The current funding is until March, 2012.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To respond to the needs of the community by offering culturally based training and information, education and support programs to address the changes they identify as being needed to reduce violence and increase safety.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

Traditional Indigenous ways are the main tools used in the work and offer access to Elders who mediate talking circles, and conduct healing ceremonies such as sweat lodges. The Medicine Wheel teachings are used to identify what is needed to develop a healthy community. Graduates are supported in their efforts to outreach to their communities to develop and foster traditional ways and activities.

Components of program:

The program facilitates the development of women as leaders in the communities they are from. To do this the program uses toolkits from other organizations such as the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) "Youth Prevention Kit", and "The Healing Journey: Family Violence Prevention in Aboriginal Communities" kit. All of these toolkits were adapted to suit the unique circumstances in each of the communities where facilitators were available to implement workshops. Support to learn and develop cultural traditions for indigenous peoples is offered to participants. The program uses the relevant documents from the toolkits as identified by the community. There are no standard approaches or standard tools used. This is the essence of their success. They adapt every workshop depending on what the community identifies as a need, and gear the use of the tool based on what the group needs at the time. The skill then is to know how to adapt for each individual community, after they listen to what the community identifies. The program is successful because it develops individual relationships and approaches for each individual community, using the response of the community as their guide. The flexibility is essential to their success.

Services/How they work:

Services are rendered on site in each community's facility.


Funding is provided by the Department of the Status of Women Canada; the Department of Canadian Heritage; the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Women's Policy Office; the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada; the Department of Health Canada; Service Canada; Human Resources Labour and Employment; and New Horizons for Seniors.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

The program has followed the lead of the women and communities from the beginning, and throughout service delivery. It responds to their requests, and obtains the needed resources and information, supports the development of leadership within each community served, responds to their feedback when developing a second round of workshops and listens to their recommendations on how to obtain community involvement and attendance.


Native Women's Association of Canada; Gignoo Transition House.

Other relationships:

Local women's shelters, coalitions to end violence and cultural centres who are doing like minded work.

Details of Program Evaluation

An evaluation has been completed (initially completed in 2007-2008).

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:

The program has evolved from having one person knowledgeable about cultural traditions to having 38 leaders developing and supporting healthy culture; it now offers 220 workshops throughout Newfoundland; and women are taking steps forward in their lives, such as returning to school, taking on leadership roles and being able to make healthier decisions at the end of the workshops.

Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

The focus is on the qualitative aspects of the work– women who are silent when the workshop starts become more comfortable to share their stories. At the end of the circles, there is a sense of trust so that women feel safe and supportive of each other. The program sees the growth of many women leaders and the development of the cultural traditions as indicators of success. Clients embrace their cultural traditions and live healthier lives as a result. Violence in all its forms is being talked about more at the community level. There is definitely a greater focus on educating young women and men as to what is considered violence and how it can impact one's whole life.


Learning cultural traditions, the development of supportive networks for women in communities and seeing women take positive steps in their lives have all been positive achievements.


Obtaining funding. The need to educate mainstream Canadians on Aboriginal issues and build relationships based on understanding and not "myths" have been substantial challenges.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

It is important to remember to let the communities decide what they need. Always wait for people to ask – offer information – do not prescribe. A process needs to be created so agencies can indicate they need to have help to learn, and to support their need in the way they want. Women have power in the community. Women need to know they have power. The assessments done prior to the project showed women wanted to take on leadership roles but felt they weren't equipped with the knowledge they needed even the ones that were well educated (University). Many believed they didn't have anything to offer. This is true in most communities. The project allowed approximately sixty women to gain the skills in different areas to take on leadership roles in their communities at all levels. Address all aspects of community and individual life, as per the medicine Wheel - mental, spiritual, physical and emotional. Learning the roots of empathy is a primary approach - the importance of addressing the mental aspect of violence, that bullying - emotional abuse-- is the worst kind of abuse. Hold workshops one day at a time – without being overwhelming – basic materials. Be able to return as needed for the 'next round'.


Adequate funding would need to be acquired for program success. Networking and establishing good working relationships within the community are essential for garnering both community support and client participation.