Métis Settlement Youth Life Skills


From 2010-2021, the Dr. Fay Fletcher, the University of Alberta project team, and participating Métis Settlements worked together to develop and deliver youth life skills programming through the Métis Settlements Life Skills Journey (MSLSJ) program. The MSLSJ program aimed to increase life skills awareness in a culturally responsive manner, building internal strengths and community support with the purpose of addressing substance abuse, violence, and bullying. 

Since 2013, over 700 children aged 7-14 from seven Métis Settlements: Buffalo Lake, Elizabeth, Fishing Lake, East Prairie, Gift Lake, Peavine, and Kikino participated and over 83 facilitators and 11 program assistants and coordinators have been trained, all of whom are from these seven Métis Settlements!   

As the project has wrapped up, the following documents provide information about the project and resources co-developed with Settlement staff for Life skills program delivery and implementation.

Storymap summary of MSLSJ
Watch the storymap here.
2013-2021: A Brief History

The Métis Settlement Life Skills Journey project is a collaborative team of people who share a passion for providing programs for youth – each taking responsibility for different facets of developing, delivering, and proving the value and impact of our work.

In 2010, Dr. Fay Fletcher was part of a group from the University of Alberta and First Nations communities responding to an Alberta Health Services call for proposals for programs ranging from prevention to treatment. Funding was received to deliver and evaluate life skills awareness training, with the intent of addressing substance abuse, violence, and bullying

Mentored by the community, we know that the best way to provide programs and conduct research, while maximizing community benefit, is to be community-based and have as much participation by community as possible

Our priorities have always been to: 

  1. develop respectful relationships between the University and community that acknowledge that both have ownership and responsibility,
  2. contribute to the capacity of individuals and organizations to work together for long term impact, and 
  3. use individual  strengths in the most effective way possible to achieve shared goals. 

Our first step was to meet with community members to ask whether life skills awareness training was something they felt was a priority and whether the community was prepared to make the commitment required for a research partnership. We were introduced to members of Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement (BLMS), making them our first Métis Settlement partner.

In 2011, the BLMS advisory committee provided guidance on program design (age groups and content) and implementation (summer camp).  Over the next two years, resources for summer camps and facilitator training were created in preparation for running summer camps. This included life skills content, program logo and identity, and plans for evaluation, always with a focus on individual and community strengths and assets and seeking out community based strategies for community wellness. 

In 2013, the MSLSJ program received a 3 year grant dedicated specifically to Métis Settlement life skills awareness training, with the intent of addressing substance abuse, violence, and bullying.

Project goals: 1) positively affect resilience among Métis Settlement children and youth, aged 7-14, and 2) develop youth leadership so that older youth (18-30) can deliver the program under the guidance of adult mentors. 

Six facilitators were trained and 57 children from BLMS and Kikino participated in the first annual MSLSJ camps.

In 2014, 7 facilitators were trained and 65 children from BLMS and Kikino participated.

In 2015, 14 facilitators were trained and 136 children from BLMS, Fishing Lake, and Elizabeth participated.

In 2016, 17 facilitators were trained and 147 children from BLMS, Fishing Lake, and Elizabeth participated.  The funding was extended to 2019. 

In 2017, 23 facilitators were trained and 180 children from BLMS, Elizabeth, East Prairie and Gift Lake participated.

In 2018, 27 facilitators were trained, 6 community members were hired and trained as program assistants and 185 children from BLMS, Elizabeth, East Prairie, Gift  Lake, and Peavine  participated in MSLSJ camps.

In 2019, 30 facilitators were trained, 7 community members were hired and trained as program assistants and 183 children from BLMS, Elizabeth, East Prairie, Gift  Lake, and Peavine  participated in MSLSJ camps. The funding was extended to December 2021.

In Fall 2019, interested Settlements engaged in community consultations to identify youth priorities and how Life Skills could transition into the community.  BLMS, GLMS, Peavine, and Elizabeth partnered to establish year round Life Skills Afterschool programming. East Settlements Youth Life Skills Coordinator (YLSC) in BLMS hired and established youth programs out of the Youth Center.

In 2020, 2 Program assistants (Peavine and Elizabeth) and West Settlements YLSC (Gift Lake) were hired. COVID-19 halted all Life Skills programs in March. Team pivoted and provided online Life Skills and digital storytelling training, programming and activity kits. Digital storytelling workshops launched in the Fall 2020. From April to March 2021: 209 unique youth attended programs; with 530 total attendance, 284 Activity kits distributed, 43 online programs.  PPE kits distributed to all 8 Settlements (May, August and November).

In 2021, programs remained online until June when Public health restrictions were lifted. YLSCs in BLMS, GLMS, Peavine, and EMS hired 12  Life Skills facilitators, with most being previous facilitators, to deliver Summer camp. From April to August 2021, 124 unique  youth attended programs, with 878 total attendance , 55 activity kits distributed, and 16 online activities. Youth attended Culture camps in BLMS, GLMS, and EMS. Peavine hosted a Youth Summer conference that included East Prairie and Kikino youth participants.

As we celebrate the last MSLSJ summer camp in August, we witnessed the transformation of the Life Skills program to a truly community led initiative since 2013.  YLSCs integrated Metis culture, language, ways of knowing and connections with knowledge keepers into the program.  There are over 95 trained and experienced youth leaders in Metis Settlements who are ready to make a difference in their community and beyond.  Over 700 youth have participated in LS and we are so thankful for the opportunity to be part of their Life Skills journey.

Final Report

Read the final report here.

View the final infographic here.

Métis Settlement Life Skills Update: Response to COVID-19
Read the MSLSJ COVID-19 response here.
Yearly Infographic Summaries

View the 2019 infographic here.

View the 2018 infographic here.

View 2017 infograhics here and here.

View the 2016 infographic here.

View the 2014 infographic program impact for 11-14 year olds here.

View the 2014 infographic program impact for 7-10 year olds here.

Program Assistant Manual

The Program Assistant Manual was developed by MSLSJ staff to support community leaders planning and implementing facilitator training and camp. The manual contains life skills modules lesson plans, camp and training logistic documents, and camp forms. 

Read the Manual here.

Mindfulness Practice

The Mindfulness Manual was developed by Ellen Robertson for the Métis Settlements Life Skills Journey Program. It contains an introduction to mindfulness and why mindfulness practice can be beneficial to children. The manual offers mindfulness exercises and scripts that focus on mindful breathing, body, and eating. 

Read the document here.

Facilitator Manual

The Facilitator Manual was developed by MSLSJ staff based on modules identified by the Buffalo Lake Advisory Committee. This manual serves as a program training and delivery resource for community-based staff facilitating youth programming. It contains life skill module activities, instructions, and supply lists.

Read the Manual here.

Digital Storytelling Manual

The Digital Storytelling Guidebook was developed by the MSLSJ team for community-based staff delivering digital storytelling workshops. This guidebook contains a step-by-step process of planning and delivering digital storytelling programming and includes supply lists, sample schedules, and mental health considerations. 

Read the Manual here.

Miyo Pimatsowin storymap

This is a storymap co-created with Gift Lake Metis Settlement and MSLSJ to highlight the innovative Life Skills Summer program GLMS staff designed by integrating the 7 Sacred Teaching with Life skills lessons. The storymap walks the reader through the 7 Sacred lessons.