We empower Indigenous youth to reach their full potential
Level's innovative justice education program, "Dare to Dream," is rooted in building trust, acknowledging colonial legacies, honouring Indigenous practices and customs, and maintaining a two-way transfer of knowledge between the Indigenous youth and volunteer legal professionals. Through storytelling, mentorship and interactive learning experiences like mock trials, sentencing circles, and justice focused field trips, the program is breaking down barriers between Indigenous communities and the justice sector.
Due to its unique and specialized approach, Dare to Dream empowers Indigenous youth to succeed in an entirely new way, instilling cultural pride and confidence, and combatting their overrepresentation in the criminal justice system by making it more accessible. The program also enhances the Indigenous cultural competency of all volunteer participants, and promotes respect for diversity in the general community.
"The students made me very proud. I will remember them for a long time. Indeed, they made me feel like I was home on my reserve and amongst my people. Dare to Dream is a terrific program, which I have no doubt will create new dreams in the students and I have every confidence that some of them will take it to heart. They are special young people and deserve the chance to go anywhere they want to in life. I believe they will. A big Chi Miigwetch to them and all the generous volunteers."
- The Honourable Justice Harry LaForme, Ontario Court of Appeal
"I'm impressed with CLA's development and execution of this high-impact initiative that supports First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth and their communities. Dare to Dream engages youth at a critical time in their development, and challenges them to live up to their potential by making sound choices for today and setting positive goals for the future. I am confident that Dare to Dream will have long lasting and far reaching benefits for Aboriginal youth in Canada, and the national community at large."
- The Honourable Bob Rae, Senior Partner at Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP, and former MP Toronto Centre
"The commitment of the Dare to Dream volunteers makes this program truly extraordinary. Their respect for indigenous pedagogy, and their focus on empowering First Nation, Metis, and Inuit students through justice education and mentorship is a breakthrough approach. These students are ready to become leaders and advocates and Dare to Dream gives them the opportunity to shine. I support the continued expansion of this program throughout Canada."
- Phil Fontaine, President of Ishkonigan Consulting and Mediation Inc. and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
"This is a one-of-a-kind outreach and justice education program. Dare to Dream is equipping Aboriginal students with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to become Canada's next generation of leaders. It also encourages the legal community to invest in and promote First Nations, Metis and Inuit success. This innovative program is taking community engagement to the next level and it really should be expanded to other Aboriginal communities."
- The Honourable Bill Graham, Chancellor of Trinity College, University of Toronto, and Former Canadian Foreign Minister
"It is crucial for Dare to Dream to continue as I have seen the transformation in my students in both their self-esteem and understanding of law. These children are the future of our nation, and through their knowledge and understanding gained in the Dare to Dream program, the possibilities are endless in terms of the impact they can have on a nation."
- Sharla Niroopan, Grade 7/8 Teacher at First Nations School of Toronto
"Through CLA's Dare to Dream program, I have the opportunity to work towards improving graduation rates amongst Aboriginal youth in Canada... Without the Dare to Dream program, these Aboriginal youth would not have this positive and engaging exposure to Ontario's justice system, nor would they have the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of the system in such a positive way."
- Karen Restoule, an Objibway woman from the Dokis First Nation, Justice Coordinator for the Chiefs of Ontario, and Toronto Dare to Dream Co-Coordinator
"Being a mentor in Dare to Dream has proven to be the most rewarding aspect of working with CLA; feeling like you might be making a small impact on the life of a student which could possibly tweak an interest in the law as a career. It's important for lawyers to give back. Lawyers have particular skills that are needed throughout the world and in our own backyard."
- Jennifer Guerard, Vice-President, Legal at Borealis Infrastructure and a member of CLA's Board of Directors
"The Dare to Dream program and the First Nations School in particular has made me proud and excited for the future of my people. The students have shown so much strength, confidence, and leadership. They are a constant reminder that we as a people are strong and that with programs like Dare to Dream the future will be bright."
- Fallon Melander, an Ojibway woman from the Wikwemikong First Nation, Policy Counsel at Legal Aid Ontario, and Toronto Dare to Dream Co-Coordinator
"As a Metis lawyer, I was so glad to have the opportunity to connect with our Indigenous youth. It was both inspirational and rewarding."
-Jude Daniels, Sr. Legal Counsel, Energy, Operations & Engineering Law at TransCanada
"I was so impressed with the thoroughness and precision in which the Dare to Dream team brought the students from A.E. Cross and Vincent Massey Schools to the court house for their mock trial project. As judges we understand the importance of any program that teaches our young citizens about the court's role in the Canadian justice system. This is of mutual and greater importance when the young participants are from our First Nations community. We gain a better insight into Aboriginal culture and, it is our hope, that the students gain more understanding of this part of the justice system."
- The Honourable Justice Bryan Mahoney, Calgary Court of Queen's Bench
"As a motivational speaker who works with First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth across Canada, I understand in-depth the adversity our young people face in their day to day lives. I have had the honour of working in partnership with the Dare to Dream staff to present to students at the First Nations School of Toronto. I have seen first-hand the rapport they have established with the students and I am impressed. The Dare to Dream program assists youth in finding positive direction by helping them to create goals, dreams and visions for their future. Idle minds create idle hands, and idle hands create boredom...when our youth are bored or lack direction, they settle for anything to keep them busy. The Dare to Dream program aids in preventing this. Through their continued collaborations with various organizations and like-minded individuals in the First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, CLA will succeed at creating a world of a difference in the lives of our future generations: one heart and one mind at a time!"