Family Violence Initiative



Healthy Relationships: Children and Youth

Program name:

Increasing Safety for Women in NWT Communities


Young Women's Christian Association


Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Target Group:

Women and girls (ages 8 and up)

Contact Name:

Lyda Fuller


867-920-2777 ext. 310



Program Overview

The primary impetus for the program's creation came from the murder of a woman in 2008 in one of the eleven communities. She had been to the Yellowknife women's shelter a number of times, as had her sister; her sister was asking for support at the trial. It spurred the program organizers to ask, "What can be done better?" In the other communities, the consultants spoke with women, and discussed what it's like there in the community. The Young Woman's Christian Association is in Yellowknife, capital of Northwest Territories. The women who are program participants live in eleven small communities in the Territories that do not have Royal Canadian Mounted Police service; these communities are each about 300 to 400 in population or less and are very isolated The program was started in May of 2010 and has been continuously operating since that time.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To have safety options for women in eleven small communities in the Northwest Territories; that women would know what those safety options are. In fact, the program works at encouraging the women themselves to develop safety options (so that safety mechanisms are internal to the community, not coming from "the outside"). The program also seeks to strengthen the connection among women within the community, and around the eleven communities.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

The healing facilitator (consultant) is Dene, and uses a lot of traditional approaches to healing in her work; some women want to connect over moose-hide tanning and there are "feeding the fires" ceremonies – Elders are involved; all activities are determined by the community women.

Components of program:

The program consultants talk to the Elders, and the Chief of the community, to ask official permission to be in the community. The women need a safe place to talk; sometimes they find safety by taking a hike around the community, and talk as they do so. The consultants also involve themselves with work in schools with the children; this is an example of a positive spin-off that reduces anxiety. There was a community feast that included a fiddler and some entertainment – the community women felt this was needed to make it more likely that they could attend the women's group meeting the next day. One time they went on a canoe trip together – there are a variety of things to allow women to be able to meet and talk together in safe ways. One time there was a barbeque in the community, and women were able to talk about why they are afraid to go out on the land – discussion included the predictability of whatever animal they may encounter out there vs. the unpredictability of humans. One of the woman consultants has a background in healing, is sensitive about what's going on (the dynamics of the community), speaks the language, and involves women in the community as much as she can. For example, when a community woman expresses interest in learning to facilitate discussions, they help her along, so there is capacity-building and confidence-building involved in the program.

Services/How they work:

Services are brought to fly-in communities and provided on site at location.


Funding has been received from: the Department of the Status of Women Canada; the Department of Justice Canada; and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

The community women themselves set the agenda for their communities for the work they wish to do. Canoe trip? Sharing circles? Climbing a mountain? The Program takes direction from the women. They always provide feedback – what did they like? What didn't work? What do they want more of? What do they want less of? The community women must want to participate in the Program. Trying to do the work and discussions in a peaceful way; some Chiefs are very supportive.


the Native Women's Association of the Northwest Territories, the Status of Women Council of the Northwest Territories and the Centre for Northern Families.

Other relationships:

Women's advisor for the the Status of Women Council of Northwest Territories.

Details of Program Evaluation

No evaluation has been completed.

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:


Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

Success is measured against women finding their own successes. For example, in one community, women got a McPherson tent [also known as a prospector tent] out on the land, as a shelter when they needed it. This is a very tangible response to violence; to get out on the land for a refuge, to find safety. Being able to get together for discussions and working out problems is also a measurement of success.


The acceptance of a program initiated by outsiders of the communities by the women of those communities.


Travel costs as these are fly-in communities.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

Replication of the program is possible. Consultants must speak the language of the communities being assisted and be aware of cultural protocols. Program staff should also keep in mind that it takes a long time to develop relationships based on trust in these communities and that sustaining relationships takes more than a yearly visit.


Adequate staffing would be needed as well as financial resources to run the program and cover travel costs to service remote communities.