Supporting Children and Youth

Janet 5

Aboriginal youth report higher rates of depression, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse than their non-Aboriginal peers. Poverty, violence, food insecurity and racism compound to create a feeling of despair.

Wabano partners with schools, community service agencies, and hospitals to weave a net of support around children and youth, so they feel like they belong, and that they have the courage and skills to face life’s challenges.

Reducing barriers to care

A recent study of the mental health needs of Aboriginal youth in the Champlain area found that poor coordination among service providers and racism are lead barriers to care.

Wabano and Montfort Hospital are developing a protocol to reduce wait times for psychiatric care for youth in crisis, and to better coordinate care for young patients when they leave the hospital.

To improve cultural competency and sensitivity of service providers, Wabano provides training for health professionals, Ottawa Police Services, the Children’s Aid Society and other community service agencies on issues impacting the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and families, and how they can incorporate culturally-safe practices into their work.

Supporting kids in school

Aboriginal youth are still not graduating high school at the same rate as non-Aboriginal students. In partnership with Wabano, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board created an Aboriginal school liaison position—a person to provide teachers and students with cultural experiences and connections to community.

“I Belong Here” is a program designed to help schoolchildren succeed. Schoolchildren who participate in the program get an advocate to help them navigate between the home and the school, meet their urgent needs, improve their academic achievement and help cultural awareness and understanding with teachers / students and the school board.

The Framework for I Belong Here, has been published to Promote the Healthy Development of Urban Aboriginal Children 6-12 Years:  This full colour publication is intended to alert service providers of the many issues affecting urban Aboriginal children.  Through its pages, the reader will be introduced to a framework that encompasses Aboriginal cultural perspective as it relates to healthy child development. The framework is available from our shop.

Keeping youth out of the justice system

The Youth Diversion Program partners with the Boys and Girls Club, Ottawa Police Services and the justice system to support  youth ages 12-17 who have been in conflict with the law. The program provides case-management, mentorship, cultural activities and a youth drop-in to keep youth from reoffending.