FRONTIER COLLEGE FORUM: LITERACY S IMPACT ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND YOUTH

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1 FRONTIER COLLEGE FORUM: LITERACY S IMPACT ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND YOUTH A REPORT PREPARED FOR GREAT-WEST LIFE, LONDON LIFE AND CANADA LIFE, MARCH 2014 On February 20, 2014, Frontier College hosted a national forum titled Literacy s Impact on Criminal Justice and Youth. Held concurrently in five Canadian cities and webcast, the forum was generously sponsored by Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life. Teachers, politicians, police, parole officers, students, community workers, social workers, youth workers and volunteers were among those who attended. Building on the results from the 2012 Critical Crossroads: Youth Criminal Justice and Literacy forum, and based on new research conducted in collaboration with the University of Winnipeg, the most recent forum presented best practices, and discussed barriers and keys to the success of integrating literacy into established youth services across Canada. David Angus, President & CEO of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, moderated a keynote panel discussion in Winnipeg, which featured the following panelists: Dr. Allen Benson, CEO, Native Counselling Services of Alberta John Domm, Chief of Police, Rama Police Service Lisa Neufeld, Education Student, University of Winnipeg Access Program The Honourable Raymond Wyant, Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba Sherry Campbell, President & CEO, Frontier College The panel discussion was webcast live to each of the other conference locations, with conference participants and online viewers invited to submit questions by Twitter or . 1

2 As context, Frontier College provided a discussion paper based on the research carried out by the University of Winnipeg. This paper focused on ways to establish best practices for bringing literacy to atrisk youth, pre-, during and post-incarceration by outlining the work being carried out by youth organizations. Most of these organizations employ wraparound supports to benefit youth at risk of involvement in criminal activity or currently involved in the criminal justice system. For a full list of speakers, please see the Appendix. There can no longer be exclusions or lost generations when it comes to the right to learn and the opportunity to gain education. The Frontier College Forum is helping address gaps and challenges in the literacy landscape for atrisk youth and those involved in the criminal justice system. Doing so is a key step towards success and a stronger, vibrant community a community of learning without boundaries. Jan Belanger, Assistant Vice-President, Community Affairs for Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life COMMENTS FROM PARTICIPANTS I am a special education and reading specialist who teaches in a section 23 classroom in a maximum secure custody unit for males aged in Northwestern Ontario. I fully understand the importance of literacy for this population of youth. My goal is to make them strong readers and writers who have confidence in the abilities and believe that they are literate. I teach them the power of the written word. Keep up the vital work! We need a discussion of ways to move youth involved in the justice system to adult literacy supports as they come of age. I felt the local workshops/presentations/discussions were great although [they] prove how few resources we truly have to benefit and assist youth in the area of literacy. There are some terrific programs out there and hopefully they can expand to service more and more youth as time goes on. We need to engage students and move away from the authoritative model of teaching. Youth need to be inspired to learn and be successful! 2

3 ATTENDANCE Location Number of Participants Halifax 49 Toronto 107 Winnipeg 62 Edmonton 55 Vancouver 58 By webcast 75 TOTAL 406 FEEDBACK RESULTS After the forum, Frontier College conducted an online survey. From the 119 surveys returned, we compiled the following results: The Literacy's Impact on Criminal Justice and Youth discussion paper provided relevant and engaging background material for the session. 17% Strongly agree - 39% 39% Agree - 44% No opinion - 17% Disagree - 0% 44% The webcast panelists were informative and insightful. 4% 46% 7% 43% Strongly agree - 43% Agree - 46% No opinion - 7 % Disagree - 4% 3

4 The discussion paper and webcast panel will help to further our work related to this issue. 6% 16% 24% Strongly agree - 24% Agree - 54% No opinion - 16% 54% Disagree - 6% Overall, the content of the webcast was excellent. 7% 7% Strongly agree - 36% 36% Agree - 50% No opinion - 7% 50% Disagree - 7% What were the most important points raised during the webcast panel? Why youth involved in the justice system face literacy challenges Types of literacy support needed pre, during and post incarceration Barriers to making literacy more central to wraparound programs Examples of innovative ways of integrating literacy into wraparound supports 4

5 The local conference increased my awareness of the importance literacy plays in supporting at-risk youth. 12% 10% 47% 31% Strongly agree - 31% Agree - 47% No opinion - 12% Disagree - 10% The local workshops/presentations/discussions gave me confidence in what we are already doing to support youth with their literacy. 20% 12% 19% 49% Strongly agree - 19% Agree - 49% No opinion - 20% Disagree - 12% The local workshops/presentations/discussions gave me ideas or insights that will contribute to my work on this issue. 3% 17% 53% 27% Strongly agree - 27% Agree - 53% No opinion - 17% Disagree - 3% 5

6 I made connections with others that will help me in my work on this issue. 9% 21% Strongly agree - 21% 24% Agree - 46% No opinion - 24% 46% Disagree - 9% DISCUSSION RESULTS These were the key issues identified in discussions at all five locations: Basic needs must be addressed before literacy becomes relevant (eg. housing, food, health) Building relationships with youth and providing positive role models is essential groundwork for literacy, as is flexible programming that will meet youth where they re at and incorporate their passions and skills, as well as their cultural background Lack of resources continues to hamper effective literacy programs (funds, staff, books) Better collaboration is needed between the individuals, organizations and institutions working with youth, including schools and families There needs to be a better understanding of the importance of literacy in empowering youth 6

7 NEXT STEPS As a result of discussions and feedback related to the Literacy s Impact on Criminal Justice and Youth forum, Frontier College has identified the following next steps: Encourage literacy to be a consideration in all programming to help youth who are criminally involved Encourage broad-based groups to come together to share insights and service around the youth they serve THANK YOU Frontier College would like to thank Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life for supporting the Literacy s Impact on Criminal Justice and Youth forum. Thanks to your generosity, we have been able to continue this important work. Together, we will work to encourage youth involved in the criminal justice system to find a way forward through literacy. 7

8 APPENDIX: LIST OF SPEAKERS NATIONAL FORUM WINNIPEG Moderator: David Angus, President & CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Panelists: Dr. Allen Benson CEO, Native Counselling Services of Alberta Sherry Campbell President & CEO, Frontier College John Domm Chief of Police, Rama Police Service Lisa Neufeld Education Student, University of Winnipeg Access Program The Honourable Raymond Wyant Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba Keynote Speaker: Kelly Holmes, Executive Director, RaY Inc. (Resource Assistance for Youth) Speaker: Alan Wiebe, Faculty of Education, University of Winnipeg VANCOUVER Keynote Speaker: Constable Doug Spencer, Vancouver Transit Police & Odd Squad Productions Panelists: Simone Maassen, Manager, Youth Services, Abbotsford Community Services Rob Rai, Assistant Manager, Safe Schools Surrey Dr. Gira Bhatt, South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence (SACCAYV) Paul Gordon, Manager, Youth Justice Programs Amar Randhawa, Victim Services & Crime Prevention Division, Ministry of Justice Amir Javid, Facilitator, Youth Justice Touchstone Family Association EDMONTON Keynote Speaker: Kyle Dube, Executive Director, YOUCAN Youth Services & Vice Chair of REACH Edmonton s Board of Directors Speakers: Karen Erickson, Program Manager, Native Counselling Services of Alberta, Topic: Pohna: Keepers of the Fire Taro Hashimoto, Youth Coordinator, "The Young Griots", Topic: Youth Multicultural Newspaper David Berger, Assistant Director, Boyle Street Community Services, Topic: Waterwings Program John Archer, CBC 8

9 TORONTO Facilitator: Michael Tukatsch, Mediation Advisory Services Panelists: Rosita Bacchus, Beat the Street Literacy and Basic Skills Coordinator, Frontier College The Honourable Anne-Marie Hourigan, Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice Shelina Karmali, Executive Director, Promoting Education and Community Health (PEACH) Danavan Samuels, Senior Policy Analyst, Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services HALIFAX Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jamie Metsala, Gail and Stephen Jarislowsky Chair in Learning Disabilities, Mount Saint Vincent University Speaker: Sarah Arnold, Founder, Halifax Learning 9

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