Dare to Dream

The Cause

Level is a Canadian charitable organization that levels the playing field and increases access to justice for marginalized communities through education and mentorship. Our innovative youth outreach program, “Dare to Dream”, engages Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth through hands-on justice education workshops and mentorship activities.

Dare to Dream is celebrated for embracing indigenous pedagogy and creating opportunities for Aboriginal youth and justice professionals to form trusting bonds and to learn from each other. As a result, Dare to Dream empowers Aboriginal youth to succeed in an entirely new way, and combats their overrepresentation in the criminal justice system by making it more accessible. Additionally, the program uniquely enhances the Aboriginal cultural competency of all volunteer participants.

In 2015, Field Law’s support of Dare to Dream enabled Level to successfully expand the program to two new schools in Calgary, reaching approximately 50 Aboriginal youth, and improving the cultural competency of approximately 30 legal professionals in the local community.

This year, we are seeking Field Law’s support to develop and implement a new aspect of the program that is focused on exposing the youth to legal or justice careers, through field trips to local law firms and law schools.

In 2016, Dare to Dream will operate in two schools in Calgary, one in the Siksika Nation and one in the Stoney Nakoda Nation.

Who Will it Benefit?

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.

The Dare to Dream program uniquely benefits and empowers Canada\'s First Nation, Métis and Inuit youth by educating them about the positive side of the justice system, instilling cultural pride, and by empowering them to believe in their own capacity to succeed.

Historically Aboriginal 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).

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.

Dare to Dream also 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.