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Message from the Executive Director

December 20, 2019

Transitioning from 2019 into a new decade moves us closer to our 55th anniversary in 2020. We would like to say thanks to all those individuals, agencies, supporters and collaborators for all your contributions over 2019. In particular, our organization would not be able to deliver the number of services and programs without the incredible staff and volunteers who consistently provide support to those who require our services and programs.

In 2019, we expanded our services into Eden Valley and Strathmore, and participated in the collaboration with the community and Alberta Justice and Solicitor General on the development of the Calgary Indigenous Court. We currently coordinate the Community Case Management Table, which contributes to the healing plans for those attending Indigenous Court. We conduct this work in partnership with other community partners who participate in the process and add value in reducing the gaps and increasing access to services and programs to address trauma, addiction and emotional and mental wellness.

As we move into 2020, we are reminded of the importance of empowering others who have had challenges that have lead them to systemic criminalization. We believe in the importance of building connection through community and contributing to increasing access to options and opportunities through the work we provide. Everyone deserves a chance to develop their true potential. We hope that you remain interested in our work, please feel free to connect and visit the organization. We will be celebrating the opening of our Indigenous Healing Room, the advancement of our services into Siksika and Lethbridge in January will be our next exciting advancements.

If you are interested in knowing more about volunteer opportunities or would like to support our organization please explore our website for further information. We are also seeking support with new or old, clean and in good condition winter jackets, socks, underwear, and winter gear.

From the EFry Family to your family – Have an amazing Holiday Season!


Breaking Barriers: Factors that kept some Canadians out of the polls

December 19, 2019

By: Alannah Page

The last federal election was decided just over a month ago and while many Canadians might have already put the thought of politics out of their mind, there are many people who didn’t make it to the polls despite being eligible voters.

By law, in order to be considered an eligible voter, you must meet the two following criteria, be 18 years of age or older and be a Canadian citizen. However, meeting these criteria can be a lot more difficult than they first appear and some of the four most significant barriers to voting impact the most vulnerable citizens in society.

  1. Not having a permanent address

When going to the polls the main requirement is that you present a valid driver’s license as proof of address and citizenship. However, it can be daunting for people who live on the streets or are in-between homes to go to the polls without a proof of address easily accessible.  

According to the Elections Canada website, a homeless person can vote a few ways, such as showing a piece of I.D. with their names on it, like a fishing license, library card or Social Insurance card. Also, if you are staying at a shelter or other residence you can ask for a letter of confirmation to present at the polling station. Other solutions can be found on their website under the FAQ section.

A new mobile polling station system was recently established in Alberta’s last provincial election that saw polling stations being set up at the Calgary Drop-In Centre. The polling station allows multiple forms of identification which bridges the barrier to voting due to lack of I.D.

  1. Having a disability

Though many polling stations do what they can to accommodate physical disabilities in many rural locations it’s not always that simple. There may be a ramp-up to the voting area but something as simple as one elevated step can deter persons with a disability from casting their ballot. 

According to 2017 data from statistics, one in five (22%) of the Canadian population aged 15 or over have a disability. In 2015, 48 per cent of people attributed “everyday issues” which include being out of town, ill, or having a disability as the reason they did not vote. 

In some circumstances, such as living in a long-term care facility, Election representatives may come to voters to ensure those with mobility issues get a chance to vote. Other solutions are ramps, accessible elevators and mail-in ballots for those who are unable to make it to the polling station.

  1. Being in prison

Since 2002, all people incarcerated in a Canadian prison have been allowed the right to vote Federally and Provincially. Prior to this only Canadians serving a sentence less than two years were eligible to cast a ballot. 

According to CBC, in the 2015 Federal election, 22,362 people voted from prison but 7.5 per cent of ballots were rejected.

Inmates often have access to T.V. but not to the internet so they are forced to rely on what the media presents as the political parties’ message as opposed to doing their own research. This can often result in the inmates not knowing much about the person or party they are voting for. 

Inmates are able to register to vote by filling out the Application for Registration and Special Ballot form and can vote only on the 12th day before the election as opposed to when all the other Canadians vote. Voting from prison is a bit different because instead of writing an X next to your preferred candidate’s name inmates must write out the full name of whoever they vote for and then put it in an envelope. 

  1. Living on a reserve 

According to research completed after the 2015 federal election 62 per cent of First Nations living on reserves voted, compared to 66 per cent of the non-First Nations population. This was the higher than in 2008 and preliminary reports show that voter turn out on reserves in the 2019 election surpassed previous years, with Alberta having the highest. Many people are attributing this rise in voter turn-out to the record-setting number of Indigenous candidates who ran for office in the last election. APTN reported that there were 62 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit candidates registered.

Despite the numbers rising there are significant barriers for those living on reserves when it comes to information around the election as well as access to polling stations. According to a blog post by Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., things like identification, emotion and physical limitation can all pose a barrier to on-reserve voting. 

This barrier can be bridged by factors that we saw emerge in the last election, such as more Indigenous representation in politics, accessible polling stations and political activism aimed at demanding change for Indigenous Canadians. 

While voting remains a democratic right in the country, it can help to be mindful of those who are not able to exercise it due to lack of privilege. In addition to the list above, not having internet access, transportation and the ability to obtain information about the political parties are also barriers to voting that impact incarcerated, homeless and less fortunate Canadians. 


Welcoming the Calgary Indigenous Court (CIC)

December 2, 2019

The Calgary Indigenous Court (CIC) officially opened on September 4, 2019 after 18 months of consultation with Indigenous leaders and stakeholders. Operating weekly, the court will primarily deal with bail and sentencing hearings, concentrating on a restorative justice approach to crime while incorporating Indigenous traditions.

Modelled after a teepee, the courtroom is arranged in a circle, in which judges, victims, offenders, and lawyers sit at the same level so that each party is an equal participant in the judicial process. Four judges with deep ties to First Nations communities preside over the process and include stakeholders, such as Efry, Homefront, Calgary Legal Guidance and Native Counselling Services, to take part in the legal proceedings. Paying homage to Indigenous culture, Alberta Justice provides the option for witnesses to swear their oath with an eagle feather instead of a traditional bible and the courtroom has special ventilation to allow for burning of medicines for special events and ceremony.

Indigenous people are disproportionately represented in both federal and provincial institutions across Canada. Despite only accounting for 4.3% of the total Canadian population, Indigenous adults account for just over 1 in 4 of total admission to provincial and territorial and federal correctional services. Specifically in Alberta, 6.2% of the provincial population is Indigenous, however, current Indigenous incarceration rates in Alberta are unknown as the province has not released this data since 2012. It is the only province in Canada where this information is not publicly available. At the last reporting, Alberta had the most disproportionately high level of Indigenous incarceration and the previous government have acknowledged this overrepresentation.

The CIC is an effort to address these numbers and create alternatives to jail and prison time by implementing recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) report. The colonial justice system and Criminal Code itself have not adequately managed crime involving Indigenous people and as a colonial system has not honoured the Indigenous traditions of reconciliation and restorative justice. Judge Eugene Creighton, the provincial court judge that presided over the opening ceremony, discussed the Blackfoot language saying, “We don’t have a word for crime. Our word is mistake.”

With a focus on cultural supports, peacemaking and joining Indigenous clients with the appropriate resources, including Elders, the CIC’s primary goal is restorative justice, rather than punitive justice. Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer stated that the UCP government supports different types of court models. Schweitzer elaborated, “Simply locking people up and throwing away the key is not the path forward, we have to make sure we’re innovative. What’s hurting people, how do we get those issues resolved?” By connecting Indigenous people in vulnerable situations with their community and culture, they find a space where they feel like they belong and the possibility of relapse becomes less likely.

 

 


Sage 12-Week Program

July 23, 2019

Now accepting women participants, 18+ years of age, for our Fall 2019 SAGE 12-week program. Please call to make an appointment to conduct an intake with Kachina. Please see the poster for details.

Program Information:

  • When: September 10th to November 29th, 2019.
  • What: Learn skills for life, express yourself with writing & photography, learn employment skills and connect with Indigenous culture.
  • Where: Sunalta Community Hall 1627, 10 Ave SW
  • How: To register talk to Kachina, Sage Coordinator to set up a time to meet at: 403 294 0737 ext. 246 | sage@elizabethfrycalgary.ca

In The Spirit of Healing – 2018 Annual Report

In 2018, an increased number of individuals from the Nation attended court and the number of Administration of Justice charges related to warrants and breaches reduced more significantly. Importantly, the support is conducted in the Stoney language, contributing to stronger understanding of processes, supports and resources.

In our efforts to reduce incarceration rates of Indigenous peoples, we recognize the importance of working collaboratively within the community to empower opportunities that lead individuals out of the criminal justice system and on a stronger path of healing and wellness. Therefore, we are grateful for our partnerships and collaborations within the community who are vital to improving access to the right resources.

>Click here to read our 2018 Annual Report.


We are hiring: INDIGENOUS PRISON COMMUNITY OUTREACH CASE MANAGER

May 16, 2019

POSITION DESCRIPTION

POSITION TYPE:         Regular Full Time

POSITION SUMMARY:

The Indigenous Prison Community Outreach Case Manager provides individual and group support to women who are incarcerated or in the community as they progress on their pathway to healing.  The Indigenous Prison Community Outreach Case Manager is responsible for participating in all aspects of program development including planning, implementation, administration, and evaluation. The Indigenous Prison Community Outreach Case Manager ensures the program is progressively changing with the needs of clients, trends in the community, and the criminal justice system.  The position requires someone with experience working with high-risk, complex, and vulnerable populations in case management.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES:

·         Support incarcerated women to cope with their personal circumstances by providing information on resources/programs available to them, affirming their resilience, and promoting thoughtful informed decision-making.

·         Assist each client in the development of a comprehensive individualized plan designed to maximize their integration back into society with stronger potential.

·         Assess client needs with regard to urgencies/emergencies/risk levels and engage appropriate services, both internal and external to EFry.

·         Provide information to enable clients to address their needs as defined by the four components of the Medicine Wheel.

·          Provide short term crisis support with a focus on supporting short-term and long-term wellness goals.

·         Assist with culturally appropriate referrals to and accessing of appropriate community resources.

·         Assist in the planning and facilitation of networking and personal development opportunities for clients, through individual and group support.

·         Assist clients to develop and/or maintain links to their identified social supports and cultural connections.

·         Advocate on behalf of clients through interactions with community and government agencies, and role model access to these resources.

·         Engage clients into cultural, spiritual, and traditional supports and service delivery options relevant to their needs.

·         Provide access to Elders/Knowledge Keepers, ceremonies, and traditional activities to support healing and personal resiliency.

·         Facilitate and participate in agency programming within the institution and community.

REPORTING RELATIONSHIPS:       Immediate Supervisor – Program Manager

QUALIFICATIONS:

·         Degree or diploma in Criminal Justice, Law, Social Work or other Human Resource equivalent. Also lived experience is considered with previous work experience in the field.

·         2-5 years of experience working with Indigenous populations and doing case management

·         Knowledge of community resources and Indigenous traditions and culture.

·         Experience working in the criminal justice system an asset.

·         Facilitation skills an asset

·         Proficiency in Microsoft Office, specifically Excel, Word, Outlook.

·         Excellent oral and written communication skills.

·         Ability to work independently and proactively as part of a team.

·         An understanding of women’s issues, social justice advocacy, diversity and anti-oppressive practice is an asset.

·         Valid Alberta Driver’s License and access to a reliable vehicle.

·         Must have a clean Vulnerable Sectors Criminal Record and be able to secure Security Clearance in the Institutions. PLEASE NOTE THAT A NEW CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK MUST BE SECURED BETWEEN JOB OFFER AND HIRING DATE AND MUST WITHIN 30 DAYS OF HIRING DATE.

·         Must secure a Clearance Letter indicating that you do not have a criminal conviction, outstanding warrants or criminal cases that are being dealt with in the court.

Salary and Benefits:

Starting wages $40, 975 – 43,270 (comparable hourly wage to those positions of 40 hours weekly).
3 week vacation commencing within first year
Extra vacation time provided at Christmas without impeding vacation accruals.
Full benefits commence within 6 months
Full Retirement Pension Plan (3%) commences within 6 months
4 wellness days annually
All statutory holidays including .5 day for Stampede parade, Family and Heritage day, and Easter Monday. Any statutory holidays that fall on a weekend employees receive a day off paid.
12 sick leave days annually – pro-rated as per start date
Total work hours is 35 hours plus .5 unpaid lunch daily
Access to Indigenous ceremonies and healing
Positive and supportive work environment
Working from a place of power within with staff and clients
Utilize and maximize your skills and experience
Email with cover letter and resume to Ronda Dalshaug rdalshaug@elizabethfrycalgary.ca by Friday May 31, 2019 @ 4 pm

 


Honouring Our Voices Gathering: Message From The Executive Director

March 28, 2019

On February 28-March 2, 2019, Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary in partnership with Pathways Community Services Association – Miskanawah, Boys and Girls Club of Calgary, Sunrise Healing Lodge, YW Calgary and the White Buffalo Parent Link Centre with Siksika Family Services welcomed over three hundred family members from communities across Southern Alberta to the Honouring our Voices – Healing Gathering for Families of Murdered and Missing Loved Ones.

We were honoured to have ceremonies commenced by the women of the Stand-up Head Dress Society of the Blackfoot Confederacy, and a pipe ceremony conducted by Elder Dila Provost Houle and her son Councillor Riel Houle. A sacred fire began at 4pm on Thursday, February 28, 2019 and was kept alit until the final closing ceremonies on Saturday, March 2, 2019.

Throughout the 3 days, families engaged in healing ceremonies including the Tea Dance Ceremony with Dr. Reg Crowshoe and 18 of our community Elders and Knowledge Keepers, as well as blessings and emotional support from many of our Elders to assist them along the path of healing. In addition, psychotherapist, Metis Elder Kerrie Moore provided therapeutic support for those families experiencing distress.

To celebrate healing, Rod Hunter with Eya-Hey Nakoda and Darcy Turning Robe with Sorrel Rider Singers provided an evening of fun and dancing in a round dance .

Powerful presentations were facilitated by Bernadette Smith, whose personal experience of her missing sister, Nahanni Fontaine who shared her personal story, and Savvy Simon whose voice of positivity provided the families with courage to face their grief. On the final day, a panel of family members told their stories of healing and hope for those struggling with their losses.

While parents were spending time focused in ceremony and support, the children and youth were also engaged in on their own healing journey respectively with Shirley Hill and Dwight Farahat. “I am…” is an original poem written and performed by the youth in attendance during the gathering.

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary would like to thank Lowa Beebe for dedicating her time as Master of Ceremonies, our funders Calgary Foundation, Calgary Homeless Foundation, Justice Canada – Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women for their generous support of this gathering. In addition to our partners, volunteers, presenters and performers, staff and those Elders and Knowledge Keepers who exhibited their commitment and compassion to the families of murdered and missing loved ones.

Katelyn Lucas
Executive Director


Indigenous Learning: Smudging Ceremonies

March 22, 2019

Written by: Natalie Jovanic

As a non-Indigenous person, I was wondering about smudging and what the Indigenous teachings were on this practice. Since Indigenous cultures are very diverse, the teachings vary between each culture. For this article, Barbara, the Indigenous Program Coordinator at the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary shared her story about smudging based on her teachings.

Respect the teachings

These days, we tend to hurry and be always busy. With smudging, it is important to take the opposite approach: assume an attitude of not-knowing, and do not rush. Take time intentionally and listen.

Barbara explained that it is best for non-Indigenous people to talk to an Elder or Sacred Teacher connected with the land they live in, while Indigenous peoples may talk to an Elder from the land they come from. When smudging, especially as a non-Indigenous person, it is important to understand what we are allowed to do and what we should not do. For example, there is a difference between smudging and using plants as medicines. For smudging, we may use sage. However, only Sacred Teachers or those with the rights to medicine are allowed the use of plants as medicines, unless this right is passed along to you to help you heal.

The smudge as a symbol for our connection with the earth

Smudging starts long before you light the sage. Barbara explained that the smudge symbolizes the connection with the earth and it is best to go out into nature and harvest your own sage with the appropriate protocol Barbara picks the sage she needs for herself and The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary during the growing season, the amount varies depending on the year.  Even the harvesting of plants for smudge requires prayer – one should only take what they need to last until the next growing season. We need to take care that we do not deplete nature but that we allow nature to be in balance.

The sage is picked once it is tall enough—but before it starts to seed. The time of year may vary from year to year depending on weather conditions. After the gathering, it is tied up into bundles and hung outside to give the bugs that live inside sage a chance to drop and leave. The dried sage is taken off the stems and the stems are returned to Mother Earth where it was picked or in some cases burned at ceremony.

Protocols and Practice

After the sage has been collected and dried, you may smudge twice a day for cleansing and protection or as needed for prayer, ceremony or healing. Smudging also serves as a protection against negative outside threats. Ideally, one should smudge in the morning when the sun rises and in the evening when the sun goes down. Take a little bit of sage and put it into a bowl. The amount of smudge you use depends on the lengths of the prayer you intend to use. You use a shell, a shaped stone, or a smudge bowl to place the sage within. To light the smudge, Barbara likes to ignite the sage in accordance with the four directions, as she has been taught to do. Once the sage is lit, she cleanses her hands with the smoke. Then, she brings the smoke over her body and arms to cleanse them. She proceeds to bring the smoke onto her eyes with the intention to see good things, to her ears to hear good things, to her mouth to say good things, and then to her heart to finalize her prayers

It is important to know that there is not one way to smudge and that when attending a ceremony that it is imperative to take the lead of the Elder and ask questions. Never assume that you have all the answers because you have been taught one way. There is a diversity within the culture that can sometimes be confusing for non-Indigenous peoples. Respect the teachings you are given and be humble as you learn new teachings.

Smudging is a prayer ceremony that is used to help connect our prayers to Creator, therefore smudging should not be used without the proper teachings and guidance and should be used specifically for the purpose it is meant for. Other medicines are used for smudging; however, it is not advised to use them without understanding the proper protocols and the purpose for using them.

Learn more about Indigenous culture in our next newsletter and upcoming blogs.