Family Violence Initiative



The Aboriginal Research Institute (ARI) was contracted by the Department of Justice to develop a framework in which to describe the dimensions of violence contributing to the increased risk of violence experienced by Aboriginal women and girls. As a general approach, ARI adopted a Medicine Wheel framework to describe, organize and present information arising from this initiative (See Figure 1).

As a symbol, the Medicine Wheel is representative of a number of different Aboriginal values and philosophical understandings. Perhaps most importantly, the Medicine Wheel reflects the concept of holistic understanding. In the context of violence against Aboriginal women and girls, the Medicine Wheel model reinforces the reality that all the different elements are interrelated and combine to constitute the totality of the issue. The selection of a Medicine Wheel framework is in recognition of the fact that although the individual components of an issue, such as the dimensions of violence can be separated and categorized, ultimately they exist within the whole of a system. Although promising practices have been placed relative to the quadrants of the Medicine Wheel and categories describing dimensions of violence, the overall intention is to reflect that all of these elements are interrelated, interconnected and exist as a whole.

Information about the promising practices was collected by 12 independent consultants hired by the Department of Justice Canada. All consultants were provided with a standard interview template to facilitate consistent collection of information about the practices and programs. Practices to be considered for inclusion in the Compendium were identified in one of two ways. A number of practices already known to the Department of Justice were given to independent data collectors from various geographic regions in Canada for follow up and information gathering; other practices were identified by the independent consultants who used their knowledge, expertise and professional networks to identify promising practices.

Information about the promising practice was collected from key informants who had direct connection, relationship and knowledge of the program. These key informants included one or more of the following types of individuals:

  1. Current manager/coordinator of the program or a manager/coordinator who had been in the role previously (within the last 3 to 6 months).
  2. Community leader who had been involved in the development and oversight of the program but was not employed by the program.
  3. Individuals who were formally (officially) designated by the agency/program to provide the information to the interviewers.

The data collected by the independent contractors was provided to ARI for inclusion in the Compendium. Members of the ARI research team reviewed the program information supplied by the contractors, according to the following criteria: was the practice related to the issue of violence against Aboriginal women and girls?; developed based on research evidence; formally evaluated with positive outcomes; in place for more than 5 years, and documented and received favourably by stakeholders. If a promising practice/program met one or more of the criteria, it was generally included in the compendium. Programs that had been discontinued within the last 2 years were eligible for consideration if they met one or more of the criteria identified above.

Information about the practices was collected during the period of November 2011 – March 2012. Permission to include a practice in this Compendium was granted by the organization or agency responsible for the practice.

Practices described in the Compendium and Compendium Annex were edited for grammar, spelling and consistency, but for the most part, information about the practices is deliberately presented in the voice of the agency contact and data collector. Statements, claims or assertions made about the program represent those provided by the agency contact and/or data collector and have not been independently verified by the Aboriginal Research Institute or the Department of Justice Canada.