Grrrl Power On-the-Land Program

The Cause

YWCA Yellowknife wants to expand its successful GirlSpace program by responding to the need for traditional, on-the-land activities by holding a Grrrl Power on-the-land camps/retreats which would be the first of its kind in Yellowknife. At the retreat, girls would take part in traditional activities that connect them to their community and their history, and reinforces girls’ positive identity. Activities may include camping trips, yoga, canoeing, traditional crafts, beading, drum making and moccasin making. Where possible the group will invite elders to take part in the workshops to share their traditional knowledge.

In addition, the traditional activities will take part alongside other activities that educate and empower the girls. The program provides girls the opportunity to increase their awareness about violence and its root causes, while exploring self, personal achievements, and building on positive self-esteem.

YWCA offers a variety of services to women, girls and families in Yellowknife and in small communities across the NWT.Shelter from homelessness by providing safe and affordable housing is a key component of the YWCA Yellowknife mandate, along with shelter from family violence, afterschool care for children and empowerment programs. Its mission is to build safe and equitable communities where women, girls and families can realize their full potential.

By addressing key social issues that young women face, GirlSpace programming changes lives by empowering young women to become capable of making informed, healthy choices in their lives, while fostering their leadership potential. These groups also provide friendship and guidance for many girls who are at-risk while exposing them to new activities and boosting self-esteem. This project touches on nearly all of Field Law’s funding priorities: Education, healthcare, at-risk youth, operated by a women’s organizations, community, and culture.

Who Will it Benefit?

The YWCA youth empowerment programs serves girls ages 9 to 17 years old and the on-the-land retreat would serve a similar population. Contacts at local organizations such as the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority (YHSSA), NWT Status of Women, and the Native Women’s Association of the NWT promote GirlSpace. This provides an avenue to recruit girls from local Aboriginal communities who statistically face higher physical and sexual abuse, as well as of higher rates of drug and alcohol use (Statistics Canada, 2009/10). Many participants in GirlSpace programs are at-risk youth who have greatly benefited from having positive female role models. By learning positive coping mechanisms and gaining self-esteem they will be better positioned to make healthy choices. This program encourages community engagement by providing opportunities for younger generations to learn from older generations.

With eight workshops and ten spots in each one, there is the potential to reach 80 girls. The workshops will vary in length from 2 hours to 2 days.