Thursday, March 18, 2010

Aboriginal Sexual Health & Self-Esteem Program

Program Available In Nanaimo

A $485,000 provincial investment is supporting sexual health and self-esteem programs for Aboriginal youth and intervention for men at risk of abusing as parts of a new program developed by the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.

“One of the ministry’s key priorities is to support more culturally appropriate services designed and delivered by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people,” said Mary Polak, Minister of Children and Family Development. “This is a co-ordinated effort to confront sexual abuse issues in urban Aboriginal communities through traditional teachings to create healthier families.”

With an emphasis on prevention, the launch of the Indigenous Response to Sexual Abuse program follows a year of planning by various key experts and urban Aboriginal leaders from across British Columbia.

“Our vision is to heal inter-generationally from the impact of residential schools,” said Association Executive Director Paul lacerte. “Addressing sexual abuse in urban Aboriginal communities represents one significant step in this journey. With the hard work of the Tillicum Lelum team and support from the ministry, we will have created a sustainable, indigenous response to the historical impacts leading to sexual abuse in our communities.”

The new program is available at the Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Nanaimo and includes four elements:

  • Sexual Health/Self-Esteem Workshops are designed to increase youths’ understanding of sexual health and empower them to make positive life, relationship, and parenting choices. Teachings are provided using the Medicine Wheel and incorporate sexual health issues specific to Aboriginal youth, including the impact of residential schools.
  • Learning the Good Way activities honour the coming of age of Aboriginal youth into adulthood. These events help to nurture a sense of connection and belonging. The transfer of knowledge from Elders and other community leaders help youth to see how they and their choices are part of the fabric of community. The event culminates in a traditional celebration and feast.
  • A Men’s Wellness Program supports men to become healthy individuals, husbands, fathers and community members. Through a strong focus on peer accountability and traditional teachings, the BCAAFC seeks to reduce the risk of men becoming perpetrators of abuse.
  • Indigenous Sexual Abuse Intervention Initiative is developing core competencies for people who provide sexual abuse counselling to B.C.’s Indigenous population. The competencies created will include and value cultural knowledge and experience, as well as academic knowledge and experience. As part of this work, Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre is designing a curriculum that will educate students to the new standard.
By the end of March, close to 100 youth will have taken part in Sexual Health and Self-Esteem Workshops, 30 Nanaimo youth will have experienced an urban passage ceremony, and 10 men will have taken part in the wellness program to learn traditional teachings on ways to manage anger and create personal balance and well-being.

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres will evaluate the programs and the outcomes for the youth and adults to support implementation in other interested communities.


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