The looking ahead project: A lesson in community engagement and positive change
In response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls movement across the country, the Greater Sudbury Police Service initiated a community engagement approach to build a project with the goal of reducing violence against Indigenous women and girls. Recognizing a need for dedicated staff to lead this project, the Greater Sudbury Police Service and the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre partnered and made application to receive Federal Government Justice Canada Funds to hire a violence prevention coordinator. This individual, through a Memorandum of Understanding, would be employed by both the Friendship Centre and the police. The violence prevention coordinator teamed up with the police aboriginal liaison officer to bring the project to life. Resisting any sort of “top down” approach, Indigenous women, girls and agencies formed part of a working committee that was asked to answer a question about what can be done to work proactively and reactively to help reduce the possibility of violence at a local level. The project, which was focused on building spirit, on culture and ceremony, on listening to what people with lived experience felt would be helpful, was created and titled the Looking Ahead to Build the Spirit of Our Women Learning to Live Free From Violence Project. The suite of achievements, accomplishments and activities is comprehensive and growing every day and includes a strategy document and the release of a missing persons toolkit. An outcome from this project is this example of how community engagement strategies, when properly applied, can yield success which would be impossible through any single agency approach.
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