For me, the way I look at it, I did talk about using the medicine wheel approach. If you're going to use this medicine wheel, it has to be a long process, because it all takes time to help an individual to find the Spirit. These programs shouldn't be just Band-Aid solutions. I have run into these kinds of programs over the years. They don't work.
We need something that's going to be long term. Maybe have a facility, a lodge, or a place in the community, a safe place for these women, and not just for the women, but for their children. It's so important. It has to be long term.
Have our elders be a part of the program. When you hire people, these individuals have to be healthy. You have to walk with these individuals. It takes a long time for these people to have trust in you, and you have to be sober, you have to be healthy, and as a person working in this field, I know that you have to have self-care, and you have to look after yourself.
I sure would like to see something in southern Alberta or even in Calgary. Like, I'm the founder of this women's shelter, Awo Taan. It's a shelter for women who flee family and domestic violence, but we need something that's going to really help them, especially to get reconnected. It's so important.
In my culture having a name, a Blackfoot name, is important. My Blackfoot name is more important than my English name. That's why, when I got that name, when we opened the shelter, that's why it's working today, because that spiritual foundation was given to me by my grandma. Whatever we do, I always say that, in native programs, you have to have that strong traditional foundation. Having the elders involved is how I look at something that's going to really help women who go to prison. There is nothing out here where they can go when they come home from jail, because I do feel for them.
I was in jail, too, a long time ago, and I know how it feels. You're so lost. You have good intentions in there, but when you come out, you come out like me, being an alcoholic. I had all these good intentions, but what did I do when I came out? I went back to the street and got drunk. There has to be something in place that's solid to help them.