A ‘Made in Alberta’ approach to Indigenous Services

Metis youth advocacy program increasing awareness around culturally appropriate sentencing for metis youth

Legal Aid Alberta aims to be the Centre of Excellence for Indigenous clients and communities by offering a more concentrated, knowledgeable and ‘made-in-Alberta’ approach to Indigenous services in both the rural and urban areas of the province. 

In 2016, Canada had an Indigenous population of 1,673,785 representing 4.9% of the total Canadian population.  The Indigenous population is the fastest growing population in Canada, at four times the growth rate compared to the non-Indigenous population. Edmonton has the second highest Indigenous population in Canada at 6% and Calgary has the fifth highest at 3%. In 2017, 24% of Legal Aid Alberta’s clientele self-identified as being Indigenous.

In keeping with the Vision, Mission and Values of Legal Aid Alberta, an Indigenous Action Plan is being developed to establish Legal Aid Alberta as a Centre of Excellence in legal support for Indigenous people. 

This plan will put emphasis on creating and expanding programs and initiatives that relate to Indigenous issues and initiatives as per the 2016 Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the 2016 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

The plan will expand on the initiatives already underway in the organization, including the Metis Youth Advocacy Program (MYAP). This program is generating increased awareness of the need for measures that are more culturally appropriate and community based when it comes to the sentencing of Metis youth.

The MYAP program has three objectives:

  • To establish relationships and, where applicable, partnerships with Metis Settlements & Metis communities of Alberta that will support activities and provide programming for Metis youth in conflict with the law. The Manager of the MYAP will be required to outreach and travel to these communities and meet with their leaders and elders, community justice workers, RCMP officers, FASD Support Networks, and other support service providers.
  • To implement culturally comprehensive justice programming for Alberta’s Metis youth and their families in both urban and rural settings.
  • To develop a pilot project that will explore how best to reconnect Metis youth in conflict with the law, with their culture, families, and their chosen Metis community.

Efforts are also being made to ensure that Legal Aid is connecting Metis clients to other resources they may need. “Legal Aid is a vital link for supports and services for Metis clients when they need our help,” says Andrea Menard, Manager of LAA’s Metis Youth Advocacy Program.  

Metis Nation of Alberta

The Metis Nation of Alberta (MNA) serves all who have a Metis Nation of Alberta citizenship card. They hold many culturally appropriate and health/wellness related events, including:

  • the Health Forum each November in which citizens can access flu shots, get Naloxone Training kits, colorectal cancer screening, oral health assessments, and STI testing.
  • the Metis Seniors and Youth Symposium  which typically happens every March where Metis youth gather together with seniors to build and share knowledge across the generations.

MNA also has a Capital Housing project where they provide housing to Metis people.

To learn more about upcoming events put on by the Metis Nation of Alberta, click here. In addition, you can follow their Facebook page, where they have announcements and information about scholarships for colleges and universities, Cancer Survivor’s Network, Chronic Pain Network, Kids and Youth Camps, Jigging classes and many more.

Michif cultural connections

Michif Cultural Connections in St Albert also provides a variety of programs to the Metis Community such as Michif classes, moccasin making classes, sash weaving classes, Drum Making Workshops, Traditional Medicine Teachings, Smudging Workshops and Blanket Exercises.

Apeetogosan

At Apeetogosan, Metis businesses can apply for funding if they need some financial help starting out. They are committed to providing profitable and sustainable financial services and support to clients who seek the means to attain economic self-sufficiency.

As a proud Metis Nation of Alberta citizen herself, Menard works to develop and improve LAA’s service delivery model for Metis youth. “With our new Strategic Plan, I am excited about the prospects of working together to achieve a more holistic service center for Indigenous clients.”

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