Did you know that half of the Aboriginal population in Canada lives in cities, is highly mobile, and experiences disproportionate risks of poverty and marginalization?
For these reasons, there is a great need to identify promising practices that agencies, practitioners, and policy makers can use to strengthen urban Aboriginal families. The NCCAH has published a report exploring practices that can provide strategic direction for meeting families’ needs. Strengthening Urban Aboriginal Families: Exploring Promising Practices includes six detailed case studies of service agencies that, despite different focuses and methods, have all been successful in building service demand and matching community needs:
The report stresses that the practices of these six agencies do not represent the only way or the best way to strengthen Aboriginal families, since what constitutes a promising practice is dependent upon many factors including community circumstances, target client needs and characteristics, and desired outcomes. However, the lived experiences and “practice wisdom” shared in the case studies may be adapted to other local circumstances. The case studies also have several themes in common, which are highly congruent with the existing literature and suggest general principles of successful interventions including:
When these elements are combined, service agencies “feel like home,” providing familiarity and comfort that in turn build trust, enable healing, enhance resilience, and support the development of strong urban Aboriginal families. Author Kim Scott says, “When families are in 'people and community' centred service environments, they have decision-making power to create conditions that amplify and focus upon their strengths. The tacit and explicit approval to be who they are and where they are in their healing journey without judgment provides much needed safety and the opportunity to build relationship; a necessary first step in the healing journey. When people feel safe, they also feel welcomed.”
The author hopes this report “contributes to the growing discourse about strength, possibility and the overwhelming potential of community driven solutions to create a safe environment for all Aboriginal families to have their needs met so that they may thrive no matter where they live and that others would be inspired by these models to create solutions for themselves.”