Circle of Safety Program
The Circle of Safety honours the knowledge that is created through Teaching Circles. Teaching Circles are grounded in the belief that each of us are both teacher and student. We are the expert when it comes to our own journey in life and we have the capacity to learn from other people's journeys while teaching others about what wisdom we have gained through our own personal experiences.
This program runs for 20 weeks and operates on a continuous intake basis.
Participants are required to complete an intake assessment and can then start the following week.
The program is grounded in the belief that, whether families stay together or not, adults and children must remain safe and free from abuse.
To provide support, education and skill development to Indigenous men women and children and their families who have experienced family violence.
To increase knowledge as it relates to safety and risk.
To explore family violence through the use of Indigenous traditions, teachings and ceremony.
Knowledge of healthy, unhealthy and abusive family dynamics, and how this impacts children and the family circle.
Knowledge of roles and responsibilities within the family.
Skills development in dealing with family violence including personal safety strategies and problem solving.
Connection with spiritual and cultural aspects of their life as a family and individual.
Knowledge of how their past contributes to their present behaviors as individuals and as parents.
Challenging attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate abusive behavior.
Parenting and communication skills which are specific to family violence dynamics within the family circle.
Knowledge regarding the impact addictions have on personal care and family wellness.
Bus transportation and child care subsidies are available to all participants.
The Circles are grounded in a process that addresses the use of violence and abuse within an intimate partner relationship while honouring Indigenous traditions. The Men's Circle is 16 weeks and court approved. The circle addresses the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical part of self which supports positive change and positive choices within an intimate relationship. Within the 16 week program there is a parenting component which assists in building parenting skills while supporting men to explore their own parenting history and the impact abuse can have on their children. Elder support and Ceremony are part of the Circle process. The Circles are a safe, supportive environment where men can begin their own healing journey and become healthy partners and fathers. There is also drop in follow up sessions available every two weeks for those who have successfully completed the program.
The Women's Circles create a safe and supportive environment where women can begin to believe in their right to be respected and their right to be free from abuse. The Circle supports women whether they are still in an abusive relationship, are choosing to leave or are unsure about what they want to do. Through education and support women begin to understand what family violence is, find their voice and create a safe home for themselves and their children. Within the 20 week program there is a parenting component which assists in building parenting skills while supporting women to explore their own parenting history and the impact abuse can have on their children. Elder support and Ceremony are part of the Circle process. Every 8 weeks, those women bringing their children to the Children's Circle will be involved in parent child Circles which bring both mother and child together to enhance communication, build on healthy boundaries and support the family Circle to be a positive safe environment. There is also drop in follow up sessions available every two weeks for those who have successfully completed the program.
Children and Youth
The program is for children and youth who have been impacted by family violence. The program runs concurrently with the women's circle and is twenty sessions in length. A requirement of the children's circle is that a parent also be enrolled in the program. The topics of the program include discussions related to family violence and self awareness (for example, types of abuse, safety plans, feelings, self-esteem and cultural identity), which is followed by a creative arts activity. A healthy and substantial snack is also served. Approximately every 8 weeks, we invite the mothers into the children's circle so that they can participate as a family in a teaching and activity. Every care is given to create a safe place for the children to learn and to express themselves and children are respected for how much or how little they want to share about their personal circumstances.
Participants must contact the office for an intake interview before attending circles.
Upon completion of the intake, participants can attend the following week.
At least one parent / guardian must attend the program if their child is to attend the children's program.
There is no cost to attend this program.
Aboriginal Counseling Services would like to thank the following organizations for their financial contributions to the Circle of Safety program:
Alberta Health Services
City of Edmonton-Family and Community Support Services
Edmonton and Area, Child and Family Services Authority
“It was good to be with the other men in the program and to get their feedback and to learn from their experiences. When you have been abusive, you feel that you are all alone and you feel that you are bad, like an outcast and there is no way to release it. Seeing the other men in the program helped to relieve that animosity that I had towards myself. It made accepting help easier. I also appreciated the cultural aspects of the program. I grew up Metis and I did not know much about the Native culture. The program helped to connect me with my culture and spirituality. Since being in the program, I have reconnected with the teachings of my grandfather and I learned that my culture/spirituality is the key to my healing.”
— MALE PARTICIPANT, Circle of Safety Program
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