Indigenous Homeward Bound Fort Erie Program (IHBFE)
IHBFE is an Education to Employment initiative for Indigenous single parent women. IHBFE is based on the WoodGreen Homeward Bound model (Toronto, 2004). The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres hosts six Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound programs within the province for single parent women with IHBFE servicing the Fort Erie and surrounding rural area. The goal of IHBFE is to remove barriers, support indigenous culture for personal growth and connectedness, provide training and work experience creating a pathway to independence and family security for its’ participants.
IHBFE coordinates services and training for participants in order to remove barriers that have historically kept indigenous single parent women in poverty: to link them to their indigenous culture and identity; and to provide stability, support and resources so they can move from “poverty to prosperity.” Participants meet with the program Coordinator regularly in order for their individualized plan to updated and adjusted according to the path of each participant.
IHBFE has modified the WoodGreen model for an Indigenous context to meet the cultural needs of our participants, the realities and available resources of our community. A major adjustment has been to extend the duration for participants to progress at their own pace through the first phase from 4 months to one year. We allowed this time for the women to re-focus their life on achieving their goal by looking inside and examining their own self and purpose. This is where the cultural supports are most needed and where they have the largest impact. Within the scope of IHBFE we are unable to provide any housing component as other locations may be able to, due to lack of adequate housing in our community at this time.
IHBFE began development in April of 2017 and began implementation in Sept. 2017. The project provides single parent Indigenous women with the wrap around supports they need to make a successful transition from poverty to sustainable employment and independent living that supports their family in a meaningful way. Currently the IHBFE program is servicing single parent Indigenous women. In the future we would like to open the program to single parent Indigenous men as well once Best Practises are established and funding can be secured.
The IHBFE project assists participants with
• Cultural teachings that assists them in finding their purpose and identity
• One on one healing/Elder guidance to heal trauma and find a good path forward
• Individualized and flexible programming plan
• Securing Childcare
• Assessing learning styles and personal strengths, career guidance
• Upgrading education, skills building
• Application to chosen and meaningful post-secondary program
• Certification and training
• Formal education
• Employment supports
• Employment experience
• Mentorship and Stability
All program elements are embedded in and centred on our Indigenous culture with a holistic approach to living a mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced life.
Amy Brunning, Program Coordinator, Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre and Niagara Chapter of Native Women (MOU)
905 871-8931 ext. 276
796 Buffalo Road, Fort Erie, Ontario L2A 5H2