Urban Butterflies

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Urban Butterflies

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

A project which connects Aboriginal/Metis girls who are in the foster care system to their own Aboriginal community, cultures and teachings.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Each urban centre in Canada has an Urban Aboriginal community with a large percentage of children in the foster care system. The purpose of the Urban Butterflies has always been to arrest the legacy from the residential school system to prisons for urban Aboriginal girls in care. Corrado and Cohen studied the needs of Aboriginal Youth in prison (Forum on Corrections: 2002) -- many of these Aboriginal children get adopted out into non-Aboriginal families. Urban Butterflies serves to expose Aboriginal girls who are in the foster care system to their own Aboriginal community, cultures and teachings.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Urban Butterflies project is based out of Vancouver, however the idea is to start similar programs throughout the province.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Specific examples of how we make a difference would be the specific teachings and hands on experiences the girls may not be exposed to in their day to day lives.Many of the art projects are authentic and are taught by an Elder. In the past we have made moccasins from deer hide, drums from elk hide, ceremonial blankets with designs the girls made.We have taken the girls berry picking and made jam with the berries on the same day. The girls have been in many public ceremonies with their handmade blankets and cedar bark headbands to commemorate various Community partners celebrations.This gives them great strength and self-esteem to be before the community so proud of their heritage.Preventing self harm is another focus and we use our lunch time for teaching healthy diets and diabetes prevention, smoking cessation,bully prevention and give the girls a place to talk and feel safe. All these teachings build self-esteem which is our primary goal. The Urban Butterflies model can be used by other groups and organizations who want to set up similar programs within their communities. We see this program as a starting point to highlight the issues of all children in care such as the separation from family, culture and spirituality. Long term separation of family creates terrible loss and dysfunction in anyone going through foster care or adoption. Regular and recurring people that really care in their lives will have positive impact on their growth and development.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

It is important for Aboriginal communities to reach out to children in care. These children are descendants of the First Peoples of this country and they need to be recognized and honoured as valuable contributors to Aboriginal societies. The resources for helping children as few and far between that teach First Nations culture. We do not have any competitors in this field, and we wish there was more programming for First Nations/Metis children in foster care. We see this program as identifying a huge gap of restorative healing for all age groups because the Elders in the program are recognized for their valuable teachings and honored. The length of time the program has been funded (since 2005) shows us the long term commitment our society has to keep it going for the girls.

Founding Story

Children in our program have bonded to the Team Leaders in a way that makes them feel proud of their heritage and makes them feel good about themselves.Reaching your goals in life for anybody has to have roots in how we see ourselves. Children who have benefited from learning about their culture have stronger identities which gives them better ability to know their own potential.There is a circle of deeper understanding when children know other children and adults have been in the same circumstances - separated from their grandmothers, aunties and mothers.