Level is thrilled to announce the release of the Indigenous Youth Justice Toolkit, a resource created for Indigenous youth, led by Indigenous youth! The Indigenous Youth Justice Toolkit is a resource for Indigenous youth to navigate the justice system that incorporates traditional teachings and youth artwork. Please read below for more information.
The cover art of the Indigenous Youth Justice Toolkit features Oskánhe itwehse | We Are Walking Together by Aura
ABOUT THE TOOLKIT
In late 2017, with the financial support of the Laidlaw Foundation, RBC Foundation, Calgary Foundation and the Department of Justice Canada, Level embarked on project to develop a resource to help Indigenous 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 toolkit 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. Special thanks to these researchers - Emily Bonnell, Carol Drumm, Sarah Mack, Kayla Fast and Tawny Allison.
To ensure the resource was youth-driven, Level recruited an Indigenous Youth Council to lead the design of the toolkit. These four youth 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. Our Youth Council members were Avianna Mackenzie, Ellena Neel, Kelsey Borgford and Joshua Favel, and we are grateful for their leadership and their passion for youth justice.
Understanding that youth communicate in different ways, Level also recruited Indigenous Youth Artists to contribute justice-related pieces to include in the toolkit. Level was humbled and amazed by the talent of youth from across the country, and we were honoured to be able to share their talent. Our Youth Artists were Aura, Cleo Keahna, Marley Moose, Charli Dawn Marie Sparvier-Red Old Man and Evelyn Pakinewatik. In addition to the inclusion of artwork, we interviewed Elders regarding the justice system, and included some of their teachings to ensure the resource was culturally-empowering. We were fortunate to sit with and learn from Elders Verna McGregor, David Serkoak, Constance Simmonds, Bob Phillips and Hal Eagletail.
Youth art excerpts by (clockwise from top left) Cleo Keahna, Evelyn Pakinewatik, Marley Moose and Charli Dawn Marie Sparvier-Red Old Man
ACCESSING THE TOOLKIT
At this time, the Indigenous Youth Justice Toolkit is available in electronic form at the following link: http://bit.ly/2yAgIxb
Please share this link widely with the Indigenous youth you know and/or work with!
Level will be exploring opportunities for publishing hard copies to share in the near future, as well as exploring options to create a website and mobile-friendly versions of the toolkit.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND APPRECIATION
We are grateful for the support of our supporters and partners. In addition to the sponsors and individuals identified above, Level would like to acknowledge lawyers Rick Nathanson and Heather Spence for providing a review of the toolkit's contents to ensure accuracy of the legal information within.
Finally, we are especially grateful for the incredible youth we had the opportunity to hear from and work with on this project - we are constantly inspired by your passion, curiosity, intelligence, and humour!