Supporting youth navigating the justice system
Building on the success of our Indigenous Youth Outreach Program, Level has developed an Indigenous Youth Justice Toolkit, which is a youth-led and youth-designed resource built to help youth navigate the justice system.
The project was inspired by the report and calls to action created by youth through the Ontario Child Advocate's Feathers of Hope Forum on Justice and Juries. Youth at the Forum used words such as “intimidating, foreign, strange, and discriminatory” when describing the justice system, and highlighted the need for accessible educational resources and training sessions regarding the justice system.
Working from these recommendations, Level surveyed First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth aged 11 - 18 across Canada, asking them to identify the top justice issues that impact them and their peers. We also asked them to identify the teachings that influence their daily life, who they would turn to if they faced legal trouble, and what qualities make a great leader, mentor or ally. Following the survey period, Level took the top five issues identified by the youth - drugs/alcohol, bullying, sexual assault, discrimination and interactions with police - and created a resource to help youth navigate these issues. Level worked with volunteer law student researchers, who created summaries of the law on each of the identified areas.
To ensure the resource was youth-driven, Level recruited an Indigenous Youth Council to lead the design of the toolkit. The Youth Council guided us through the development of the resource, offering their perspectives and suggestions on the content and design of the toolkit to ensure accessibility and responsiveness. Additionally, understanding that youth communicate in different ways, Level also recruited Indigenous Youth Artists to contribute justice-related pieces to include in the toolkit. Finally, we interviewed Elders regarding the justice system, and included some of their teachings to ensure the resource was culturally-empowering.