Family violence program seeks fundingMLAs to decide fate of A New Day which has helped more than 130 men
Northern News Services
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
A program that has shown success in curbing family violence has no confirmed funding past the end of the year.
Laura Boileau, co-ordinator of A New Day makes a presentation to MLAs at the legislative assembly last Wednesday. The pilot project has helped more than 130 men deal with family violence issues since it began a little more than a year ago. The project is slated to finish at the end of this year. Boileau said she is not certain whether its funding will be continued. - John McFadden/NNSL photo
A New Day, the two-year pilot project, is run through the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre and is funded by the territorial Department of Justice.
It is described as a community-based, culturally appropriate, therapeutic program that provides individual and group counselling to men who have been abusive or worry they might use violence.
The program is available to men 18 and older who have been violent toward their wife, common-law spouse, girlfriend, or partner. Participants may be self-referred, referred by an organization or agency or mandated by the courts.
Laura Boileau, co-ordinator of the program, said it has helped more than 130 men since its inception on Jan. 1, 2015, adding they see new people almost every day as word about the program spreads. She said the majority of those men are from Yellowknife but others have come from elsewhere in the territory. However, Boileau said she is concerned about the future of the program as it is slated to end Dec. 31.
She said the program is unique in that it works almost exclusively with the perpetrators of family violence. She said that there is plenty of help for the victims of family violence but that it was important to address the problem at its root.
"If we don't "we'll be cleaning up after (the men) for the rest of our lives," Boileau said. She thinks the program has been successful but added that it is difficult to operate without knowing if it will be continued past the end of the year.
During six months of counselling, men learn how to build on their positive traditional values, take responsibility for their past abusive behaviour, confront their addictions, resolve traumas such as the impact of residential schools, build relapse-prevention plans and monitor their progress, according to Boileau.
"My hope is that it will be positively evaluated based on the information we have and that funding will continue past Dec. 31, 2016, so we can continue to provide free counselling services to men who have used violence so they can learn better ways of coping," Boileau said. "I have been told that programming in some capacity will continue but it's been pretty vague which makes it hard to plan for the future. The last thing I want to do is close the door in people's faces."
Wade Blake, director of community justice and policing, stated in an e-mail that it would be premature to speculate about resources for the program past the end of this year.
"The Department of Justice will continue to look for effective ways to reduce crime. The Department of Health and Social Services continues to provide a variety of mental health services to ... men who have a history of using violence in their relationships," Blake stated. He also stated the program will not be evaluated until after it is completed, adding that once it has been examined a decision will be made on whether to expand it.
The program costs $250,000 a year and is funded through the community justice program. Boilieu is not certain when she will find out if the funding for the pilot project will be extended past the end of the year.
Caroline Cochrane, the minister responsible for the status of women, said she is a staunch supporter of the project. But like all government programs, she said funding is an issue.
"Government ... is in a recession. We're going through a process of deciding what programs will stay, what programs won't stay. It'll be up to the MLAs to decide," Cochrane said. She added that the project's future will be decided during the May-June legislative assembly
"As the minister responsible for the status of women I am really advocating for that program. Family violence is a huge issue in the NWT. Right now that is the only program that provides counselling and specialized services for men who commit family violence."