Dare to Dream
Level’s youth outreach program, “Dare to Dream”, uniquely benefits Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth and their communities both on and off reserves. Through specialized justice education workshops and access to mentors and role models in the legal and business communities, the program breaks down barriers and equips the youth with the skills, knowledge and confidence to succeed. It also combats the Aboriginal students’ overrepresentation in the criminal justice system and increases access to justice for the youth and their communities.
In addition, Dare to Dream enhances the Aboriginal cultural competency of all volunteers and benefits Canadian society at large by promoting diversity, equality and inclusivity.
In Alberta, Dare to Dream will operate in a minimum of four schools in Calgary, the Siksika Nation and the Stoney Nakoda Nation.
Who Will it Benefit?
Historically First Nation, Métis and Inuit youth in Canada have had an imposed system that denied any emphasis on their own languages, cultures, traditions and laws. The legacy of residential schools “is reflected in the significant educational, income, and health disparities between Aboriginal people and other Canadians—disparities that condemn many Aboriginal people to shorter, poorer, and more troubled lives” (TRC of Canada).
Access to justice for Indigenous peoples, and justice education and empowerment programs for Indigenous youth specifically, are critical to reconciliation and to breaking the cycle of poverty, racism and inequality. Since the program’s inception, Dare to Dream has been developed in consultation with Aboriginal elders and advisors throughout Canada. The program is unique and effective because it embraces Indigenous pedagogy, which places emphasis on experiential and relational learning models. Students learn about their rights, the consequences of their actions and the justice system in general by interacting with the volunteers in small groups and by participating in criminal mock trials and sentencing circles that are presided over by judges and Elders. The program also incorporates field trips to local universities, courthouses, and law firms or businesses to expose students to the diverse range of opportunities and careers available to them.
Dare to Dream benefits the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal volunteers involved by improving their competency in Aboriginal cultures and traditions through a formal training event, as well as the small group workshops throughout the program delivery. The program also benefits Canadian society at large by promoting diversity, equality and inclusivity.