National Indigenous Programs

Our Vision of Canada:

A Nation of Respect and Equity For All Children

Indigenous children and youth are one of the fastest growing populations in Canada. They represent over 50 per cent of the total Indigenous population of approximately 1.4 million people (2011), and 7 per cent of all children in Canada. Yet they live in worse conditions and have poorer outcomes, on average, than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

In Canada, the average poverty rate for Indigenous children is 40%, more than twice the national average of 17%, and 50% of status First Nations children live below the poverty line. Indigenous children trail the rest of Canada’s children on many measures, including family income and high school graduation. At the same time, rates of homelessness, infant mortality and suicide are considerably higher than the national average.

These facts must be changed, through collaborative, long-term and sustainable solutions.

Our vision at Save the Children is of a reconciled Canada – a nation of equity, respect, and partnership, where every child attains the right to survival, safety, protection, development and participation.

We believe Indigenous children have a right to develop to their full potential as valued and engaged citizens within their Nations and Canada, where their culture and identity are celebrated.

By drawing on our international experience, Save the Children partners with Canada’s Indigenous communities to deliver programs that support this vision.

As the foundation for its Indigenous programming, Save the Children worked closely with our National Indigenous Advisory Circle on the creation of a Relationship Framework. The Framework takes into account Indigenous cultural values and traditions, and acknowledges both the historical and current context of Indigenous peoples. The Framework provides a road map that ensures programs are community-driven and community-led and that healing and revitalization of cultural teachings and languages are centered on the Spirit of the Child.

For 2016 – 2018, Save the Children has ambitious plans for its Indigenous programs. Built on the Relationship Framework and guided by the communities in which we work, Save the Children will focus on the following five initiatives across Canada.

1) Youth Peer Helper Training program

Save the Children Canada partnered with Kenora Chiefs Advisory (Ontario) in 2014 to support the Wiisokodaadig Youth Peer Helper Program.

The Peer Helper Program draws on international best practice and ‘peer helpers’ using traditional and mainstream approaches to create a critical and accessible helpline within the community. It is a community-based approach to life promotion and helping youth cope, build resilience and confidence in experiencing life challenges. It draws on the participation of Elders, traditional Anishinabek culture, and mainstream approaches to create an accessible helpline within the community.

To date, the Youth Peer Helper program has worked with young people from 13 First Nations communities across Northern Ontario, with over 800 additional First Nations youth benefiting from program reach.

Video: Youth Peer Helper Training program

2) Emergency Preparedness and Response and Recovery

The overarching goal of this program is to ensure that First Nation communities are prepared to protect children when disasters strike. Building on community strengths and Indigenous knowledge, the initiative creates a foundation for the mobilization and strengthening of child-focused community resilience and preparedness activities; building our capacity to respond and recovery interventions based on need developed with communities.

3) The Birthing Experience: Indigenous Maternal Child and Newborn Health

Working in partnership with National Aboriginal Council of Midwives, Save the Children is focusing on lessening the need for forced maternal evacuations by building community capacity and enhancing the recruitment and retention of Indigenous healthcare providers. This will lead to a strengthening of community ties, sustained Indigenous knowledge, improved community health and well-being, and the promotion self-determination. A key component will be advocacy for the choice of birthplace for all Indigenous communities in Canada, as per the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

4) Adolescent Skills for Successful Transitions

The goal of the program will be to support skills-building and livelihood opportunities for Indigenous youth to make the transition to safe and decent livelihoods. Focus will also be placed on promoting supporting systems for inclusive- and gender-sensitive markets and communities for Indigenous youth to prepare for accessing economic opportunities.

5) Journey of Hope

We know that disasters or trauma can trigger different responses among children and adults. Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program helps children and adults cope with these events, build their natural resiliency, and strengthen their social support networks. Working in partnership with program communities and Elders, we help children who, following disasters and trauma, often lack the proper tools for coping. The Journey of Hope program helps us build resiliency amongst young generations. Read more about the program here: Journey of Hope. 

6) Prevention of Sexual Exploitation of Indigenous Girls

Indigenous women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation, and the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is amongst the most persistent human rights violations in Canada.

Save the Children will work with Indigenous partners to advance policies and funding to Indigenous-led, culturally-based response to the crisis of sexual exploitation/trafficking of Indigenous girls.

7) Ayatimah – Let’s Read Together

Through a generous yearly donation from Scholastic Canada Inc., over 30,000 books are distributed in partnership with Maskwacis Cultural College in Alberta to support literacy initiatives.

Additionally, unique initiatives such as hosting book exchanges, creating libraries-in-a-box, school presentations, and a reading tipi support ongoing literacy initiatives.