Thank you for your introduction. I'm Josie Nepinak.
Greetings, first of all, from Calgary. Calgary is situated, as you probably know, in Treaty No. 7 first nations. We have beautiful weather today.
I'm here to talk about Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society. We were established in 1992 to provide holistic support and guidance to women and children who were fleeing violence. Awo Taan in the Blackfoot language means shield, protector. Its name represents the approach for culturally appropriate and safe protection and support against family violence.
Our vision is to provide services to families living in peace and our mission is to provide a continuum of support services to anyone affected by family violence and abuse.
I'd like to tell you, first of all, that in Alberta there are 46 emergency shelters. According to statistics, up to 60% of the women and children coming into shelters in Alberta are indigenous. Therefore, to guide our work, we have developed some guiding principles, and I'd like to tell you a bit about them. We value the traditional knowledge of the elders and the transfer of knowledge as sacred. We acknowledge and value the spirit and integrity of all individuals affected by violence.
We believe that healing requires a multi-faceted response, including intervention, provision of safe shelters, spiritual and cultural services, community-based services, and information to victims and to those who batter, as well as public education and the enforcement of appropriate laws. We also believe that violence is manifested through intergenerational trauma and that healing of that trauma is influenced through community-based education.
We are governed by a volunteer board of directors, who provide collective direction and oversight for our activities. I lead a multidisciplinary team that provides a range of services and programs to indigenous women and their families based upon strength-based trauma care and violence-informed care that foster indigenous healing, pride, self-esteem and cultural identity.
Our aboriginal framework for healing and wellness is our working document and our service delivery model, which provides tools for healing and wellness, and responsive and culturally appropriate strategies. It provides a range of culturally sensitive services to indigenous people and their families.
We have been in service for 25 years, and over those years we have developed our care program and our healing and wellness program with an emphasis on violence-informed care. We also continue to evaluate our framework to test our relevance and the impact of the work that we do around the trauma-informed, culturally responsive services.
For the past 25 years, we have built programming and services and developed strategies for indigenous people, and the people themselves—our mothers and children, people in the community, our partners—have identified indigenous models as most useful in our understanding and knowledge of what constitutes culturally appropriate service delivery.
Therefore, we have expanded from providing crisis services to providing a range of culturally sensitive programs to address the immediate and long-term needs of families affected by violence. We have a number of programs, and I'll just mention a few. We have the emergency shelter program and our family violence prevention program. We have a rural outreach and community program. We have an aboriginal support program, and youth mentorship. All these programs, with the exception of the emergency women's shelter, are inclusive of men and extended to family members impacted by violence so they can be part of the family healing process.
We prefer to call our shelter a lodge primarily because we know, with trauma-informed care, that women coming into the shelter have already had multiple experiences with trauma, whether at residential school or during the sixties scoop, and have suffered loss of language, culture and ceremony. The lodge represents more of the healing process.
We have 32 beds and we offer a full-service emergency shelter. We operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we provide services to all women fleeing violence. Those services include emergency crisis support, emergency accommodation, cultural supports, mentorship, intensive case management, community healing and education.
We have an innovative child care program and a reconciliation and healing from trauma program, which is fairly new for us. The reconciliation and healing program uses an enhanced approach to counselling and providing supports for women who stay at the lodge. We have an indigenous psychologist who is trauma-informed, so we practise culturally safe trauma- and violence-informed counselling and support healing of all forms of violence and abuse.
The lodge is core-funded by the Province of Alberta, under the homeless supports division.
We recently completed the “Comprehensive Report: Building a Case to Explore the Impact of Indigenous Trauma-Informed Care and Other Promising Practices at the Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society”. The scope of the work included the development of a program logic model and a review of internal documentation for relevance, achievement and outcomes, as well as our design, delivery and efficiency. We also did an external literature review of culturally relevant frameworks, models, principles and strategies for family violence prevention at women's emergency crisis shelters, primarily serving indigenous women.