Dǫ Edàezhe: Building Resiliency among Aboriginal Youth


“Dǫ Edàezhe” is a Dogrib expression describing a person who is capable, skillful, and knowledgeable: a person who has the skills needed to survive in the world in the traditional Dene sense. In 2009, Yellowknife Catholic Schools received a grant to develop and implement a crime prevention program (called Dǫ Edàezhe), which included community liaison support, mentorship, and leadership and resiliency development. Part of this project is based on a model program, the Leadership and Resiliency Program, which Yellowknife Catholic Schools adapted to suit the unique needs of northern Aboriginal youth. Further adaptations have included developing and implementing programming for elementary students and incorporating community liaison support and mentorship components for all identified students. Eighty percent of the students in Dǫ Edàezhe are Aboriginal. The objective of Dǫ Edàezhe is to enhance the capacities of identified youth to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors related to crime and victimization. Midway through the project, preliminary findings for students in Dǫ Edàezhe show an increase in attendance and school grades and a decrease in school disciplinary actions. More important are the anecdotal stories of the students as they become more confident in their abilities to be “Dǫ Edàezhe” in navigating their current environment.

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