We are group of service providers based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, working to support women with intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities who have experienced trauma and are in conflict with the law.
It is well established that women with intellectual or developmental disabilities, including FASD, have often experienced traumatic events as children, adolescents, or young adults. This particular group of women are more likely to have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, child welfare involvement, and exposure to community-based violence. Trauma-related impacts including anxiety, depression, and heightened arousal/reactivity can lead to substance use as a coping mechanism. Problematic substance use in turn can lead to involvement with the legal system.
Despite the need for gender-, disability-, and culturally-responsive trauma treatment, there are few services available to meet women’s needs. Existing services may not have the resources to address women’s trauma needs, or they may consider working with this group as outside their scope of practice. This has meant that many women have been excluded from mainstream services, leaving their trauma and trauma impacts, such as substance use, unaddressed. In the absence of effective support, women can be vulnerable to further experiences of exploitation and/or violence, which may exacerbate their use of substances to cope. These experiences can consequently lead to involvement in the justice system. In effect, the experience of trauma can be considered as both a cause and a consequence of substance use and legal involvement.
Development of this program was funded through the Substance Use and Addiction Program of the Public Health Agency of Canada and contains three phases:
Researching the prevalence of trauma and substance use within the population of women with intellectual disabilities and FASD and legal involvement.
Development, implementation and evaluation of gender- and disability-responsive trauma training for service providers.
Implementation and evaluation of an evidence-based trauma-specific intervention for this particular group of women.
We are currently in the training phase of this project – please see our training page to learn more about educational opportunities or contact us for more information, including how to join us now that the sessions have started.
We plan to begin a pilot of our healing circles in early 2022. Please continue to follow this page or contact us to learn more.
Who We Are
Developed in Manitoba, this program is rooted in traditional teachings of our Indigenous Nations and communities. This program was seeded and grew on Treaty 1, 2, and 5 Territories, original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and the Homeland of the Métis Nation. Key to this program is acknowledging the ongoing ramifications of colonial practice and a commitment to Indigenous knowledge and traditional healing approaches.
Bringing together a group of partners to sit on a project advisory committee, input and feedback was provided by Manitobans working within the disability, addictions, justice, and self-advocacy communities. Members of this committee include:
Opportunities for Independence Inc.
Incorporated in 1983 to support individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder who are in conflict with the law. Focused on individual well-being and community safety through active programming.
University of Manitoba Faculty of Social Work
Academic education and research department for those working to enhance the lives and well-being of others.
Life’s Journey Inc.
Incorporated in 2005 to support individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder with wholistic, lifelong care and Indigenous Spiritual Care Services. Includes services for persons not otherwise eligible for governmental support funding.
Working for the past 60 years in providing advocacy on human rights issues and systems navigation for children and adults with disabilities.
Providing quality pharmaceutical care and community health supports in Winnipeg, including experience providing medical services to individuals with disabilities and complex health needs.
Onashowewin Justice Circle
Established in 2003 to prevent recidivism and help those in conflict with the law find a healthy path in life by incorporating cultural understandings and traditional teachings to a restorative justice approach.
New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults & Families
Providing a diverse range of supports in a variety of settings, including day programming, residential settings, and clinical services. Services are responsive and individualized to foster the hopes and dreams of people and their communities.
We are thankful for their guidance we have received, and look forward to continuing to learn from everyone at the training sessions and everyone in the treatment groups.