Review concludes A New Day healing program has found its feet after rough start

A review of a pilot healing program for men who have been violent with their partners concludes that the program is now operating as intended, though it was not doing so for much of the three-year pilot period.

Government extends funding for A New Day program for men until June

A review of a Yellowknife healing program for men who've been violent with their partners concludes that the program is now operating as intended, though it wasn't doing so in the beginning.

A three-year pilot program for A New Day was scheduled to expire at the end of this year, but at the urging of regular MLAs last month, the government has agreed to extend funding to June 30.

"While we are happy with the program, there may be some tweaking required in how it is rolled out or how it is provided," said Justice Minister Louis Sebert on Wednesday.

"The whole point about a pilot project is to examine the program over a period of time, so staff and myself will be reviewing the program to see if it can be improved."

May be some tweaks

The territorial government initially contracted the Healing Drum Society to deliver the program but that organization ran into financial difficulties and stopped delivering it. There was an eight-month gap in service before the program resumed in 2014, with the Tree of Peace taking on the contract.

The territorial government is now considering some changes to the program, including dividing the curriculum into four modules instead of a straight 20 weeks of delivery. 

It could also put the contract to deliver the program out to tender at the end of June. 

The review, done by Winnipeg-based consultancy Proactive, also suggests there is a need to extend the program beyond Yellowknife, but doing that would require fine-tuning the program to take into account each community's cultural context and the fewer trained people available to deliver it in small communities.

"Certainly that is a possibility for the future," said Sebert of introducing the program in other communities, "but there is the issue of having sufficient resources outside of Yellowknife to provide the program."

80 men enrolled

The program review looked at clients using the program between October 2012 and December 2015. Of the 80 men who enrolled, 71 per cent completed fewer than 10 sessions and only 12 completed the program. (The figures do not include inmates from the North Slave Correctional Centre who used the program.)

The program is comprised of 20 weekly sessions of individual and group therapy delivered in four different stages. The review noted that during the pilot program the number of sessions did not correlate directly to the stages. Staff used the curriculum as a guide and, depending on the participants, some stages took fewer sessions to complete.

The review found most participants were Indigenous men dealing with issues related to poverty or coping with residential school trauma. Interviews with past clients found that some men stepped out of the program for a period of time for work, personal reasons, or because they had family and child care responsibilities to deal with.

$11,000 donation from local group

The A New Day program also got some unexpected support from a local group that gives to charities this week. 

One Hundred Men Who Give a Damn meets four times a year in Yellowknife, with each man donating $100 and the total amount collected is given to a selected charity. 

On Wednesday, the group decided to give over $11,000 to the program. 

with files from Juanita Taylor