Oshkabywis: My Helper

Oshkabywis is the Anishnaabe word meaning “Helper” and is a three year culturally based mentorship project for 36 – 40 Indigenous female youth, ages 12 – 20 and who are involved in or associated with youth street gangs and who are involved in the criminal justice system in Winnipeg. The age range changes to 18 – 20 in those cases where offences have occurred prior to their 18th birth date.

Program Goal:

The goal of this project is to reduce gang related criminal activity and violent offences among female Indigenous youth, ages 12 – 20 by increasing protective factors through positive mentorship relationships, skill development, and culturally based activities

Program Objectives:

Oshkabywis program objectives are to:

  • Decrease Indigenous female youth involvement and/or membership in youth gangs.
  • Provide safe and culturally based alternatives to support Indigenous female youth to develop pro-social competencies, attitudes, and behaviours.
  • Address specific risk and protective factors associated with Indigenous female youth involvement in youth gang criminal activities and violence.

Program Model

Oshkabywis follows a Circle of Courage model of youth empowerment (Dr. Larry Bendtro, Dr. Martin Brokenleg and Dr. Steve Van Bockern), which focuses on nurturing the four universal needs of all youth: Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity.

Oshkabywis focuses on development of pro-social competencies, attitudes, behaviours, and increase positive alternatives and solutions available to them. This model will increase those protective factors that have been found to be the most effective in reducing gang involvement, violence, and criminal activity. These include

  • Positive attitudes, values, and beliefs about self and others
  • conflict resolution, problem solving skills
  • positive mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health
  • strong social support
  • stakeholder/community awareness and involvement
  • success at school
  • participation in and reclamation of cultural ceremonies
  • access to elders, traditional healers and teachers
  • access to positive adult role models, coaches, and mentors
  • culturally relevant programs and services

Service Philosophy

Oshkabywis provides an intensive youth engagement or “wrap around” service deliver approach, combined with positive mentorship relationships. Together, these strengthen protective factors, increase resilience and reduce vulnerability to negative influences, including gang involvement and criminal behaviour.

The female specific nature of Oshkabywis is reflected in hiring (both staff and elders), Essential skills (safety, sexual health, parenting, relationships, drugs and alcohol, etc.), Cultural (Womens Teachings), and Resources (Employment and Income Assistance, Child Care, Housing, Food Security).

Program Activities:

Weekly activities relating to each of the universal needs will be offered including recreation, ceremonial practices, and personal awareness/life skills workshops. These include:

  • Life Skills Training Career Exploration
  • Education/Training opportunities to reconnect youth to formal education systems and encourage and monitor attendance.
  • Organized skill specific training including Food Handlers, First Aid/CPR, ASSIST (Suicide Prevention), computer literacy Drivers Training
  • Literacy activities including identifying and accessing literacy/numeracy tutors
  • providing cultural connections related to establishing or re-establishing traditional knowledge and practice
  • Recreation/Social opportunities to support engagement in positive recreational/Social Activities
  • Facilitated sessions on personal responsibilities related to behaviours (sexual exploitation, criminal activities, etc.)
  • Engagement with appropriate collateral services and families as required including housing, food security, safety, etc.
  • Engagement with appropriate drug and alcohol treatment programs as required.
  • Provide assistance to youth to access cultural/western counselling.
  • Daily (as needed) social supports provided by mentors

Eligibility and Referral:

Oshkabywis is a voluntary program and only takes referrals from Probations.

For more information please call (204) 953-5820

Mentorship Essential Skills

(Safety, sexual health, parenting, relationships, drugs and alcohol, etc) Cultural (Womens Teachings) and Resources (Employment and Income Assistance, Child Care and Food Security)

  • Increase resilience and reduce vulnerability to negative influences, including gang involvement and criminal behaviour
  • Positive attitudes, values and beliefs about self and others
  • Conflict resolution, problem solving skills
  • Good Mental, physical and emotional health and strong social support
  • Stakeholder/community awareness and involvement success at school
  • Participation in and reclaiming of cultural ceremonies access to elders, traditional healers, teachers and access to positive adult role models, coached and mentors culturally relevant programs and services
  • Weekly activities relating to each of these factors including recreation, ceremonial practices and personal awareness/life skills workshops will be offered

Goal

To reduce gang related criminal activity and violent offences among female youth by increasing protective factors through positive mentorship relationships, skill development and cultural based activities.

Objective

Decrease female youth involvement and/or membership in youth gangs. Provide safe and cultural based alternatives to support female youth to develop pro social competencies, attitudes and behaviours. Address specific risk and protect factors associated with female youth involvement in youth gang criminal activities