November 04, 2009
To debate Private Member Motion 271 First Nations community cadet programs
We’ve refocused the National Crime Prevention Strategy to ensure that initiatives are targeted, effective and long-term. We’ve also taken steps to ensure that funding is permanent rather than subject to the sunset provisions which the previous government had put in place.
As well, as my honourable colleagues have pointed out, our government has set up the Northern and Aboriginal Crime Prevention Fund, which supports innovative and culturally sensitive crime prevention practices that aim to reduce offending among at-risk children and youth.
All in all, our government has invested nearly $74.4 million in 46 National Crime Prevention Centre projects across Canada this year alone – many of them targeted to helping Aboriginal youth. I’m therefore very proud of what we’ve accomplished to date, and I’m confident that we can and will do more.
Today, Mr. Speaker, the success of programs funded under the National Crime Prevention Strategy rests largely on the fact that they are evidence-based and targeted to individuals most at risk of offending. They are also based on community partnerships, and extensive community involvement and participation so that initiatives are focused and will have the greatest impact among young people who need them the most.
All this is important, Mr. Speaker, given that our goal is to help young people at risk make smarter life choices and avoid becoming involved in a life of crime. As equally important is the need to continually monitor and evaluate projects to ensure they produce lasting results.
That’s one way we can be sure that taxpayer dollars are invested in a way that makes sense and that produces the desired outcome. So far that is exactly what our government has done.
We’ve invested, for example, in several projects this year alone targeted to Aboriginal youth, which all meet these criteria. As my honourable colleagues have mentioned, we’ve invested in projects such as the Helping Youth to Help Themselves project in Yellowknife.
The Government of Canada is also investing close to $166,000 over 15 months to help the Department of Justice, Community Justice Division, of the Northwest Territories government continue to foster the creation of partnerships and networks to coordinate the crime prevention approaches and to support the practitioners to ultimately reduce crime.
The Government of Canada is also investing nearly $160,000 over 15 months to help the Department of Justice of the Government of the Northwest Territories research the development of a culturally sensitive prevention program that will target men who are at high risk of using violence in intimate relationships.
The Leadership and Resiliency Program is a model program designed to enhance youth’s internal strengths and resiliency while preventing involvement in substance use and violence. This program has been shown to be very effective when it has been implemented in other places, and it has a strong record of reducing crime. This is why we are supporting two educational institutions to implement this program in communities in the Northwest Territories.
Our government is also funding the South Slave Divisional Education Council’s Leadership and Resiliency Program with over $1.4 million over 60 months; and the Do Edaeze: Yellowknife Catholic Schools Leadership and Resiliency Program, through the Public Denominational District Education Authority, with over $7.1 million, also over 60 months.
In Halifax, our government is committing funds of $696,000 over three years to the Chebucto Communities Development Association so that it can offer the Seeds of Change Youth Inclusion Program to youth between the ages of 14 and 18 who are at risk of criminal involvement.
This program will allow participants to learn new skills, get help with their education, and also focus on drug prevention and conflict resolution so that young people can increase their social skills and sense of belonging.
As well, our government is investing $469,000 over three years so that the Aboriginal Women’s Association of PEI can deliver the Mawita’jik or “Gathering Together” program to at-risk children, youth, and young adults in First Nation communities across PEI in an effort to reduce incidents of violent crime and property crime associated with substance abuse.
This program will involve communities, families, service providers and youth in culturally sensitive activities, which will help develop the skills needed to support effective crime prevention and reduction.
Mr. Speaker, each of these initiatives is important. They’re community-based. They’re founded upon a demonstrated capacity and interest in the community to get them up and running. They’re based upon demonstrated links to studies which clearly establish that they work. And indeed, experience shows that they have been and will be successful in helping to reduce crime among at-risk youth in our communities.
The motion before us today proposes in this regard that the government should examine First Nations cadet programs and develop a plan to facilitate, promote and help monitor First Nations community cadet programs across Canada. Our government supports this motion in principle. Still, we need to move forward in a prudent and measured way in order to ensure that we continue to invest taxpayer dollars in projects that will work to help at-risk young people avoid a life of crime. That is what we’ve done to date. And, it is what we’ll do in the future as we continue to build safer communities for everyone. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.