As you read about the Endaayaang program below, consider the following questions:
- How has the organization incorporated Indigenous cultural knowledge into the service design? Can you think of at least 3 ways?
- What 3 models of housing are available to Endaayaang program participants?
- What strategies did the organization use to overcome a key challenge in program design?
Endaayaang: Housing First for Indigenous Youth
Endaayaang, which is an Ojibwe word that means “a safe place where your heart/spirit feels at home,” is a HF4Y program in Hamilton, Ontario, whose focus is supporting Indigenous youth between the ages of 16–24 years who are exiting youth systems such as children services, justice, hospital systems, or leaving home for safety reasons. Endaayaang has built their foundation on the core principles of HF4Y and are using the Youth Assessment Prioritization (YAP) tool while also incorporating the Circle of Courage, the 7 Grandfather teachings, and the Medicine Wheel in their case management and program outcomes, giving space to allow youth to learn about their culture and heal from intergenerational trauma. With every step, Endaayaang looks at how culture is infused into all their practices and daily life, starting with the program design, beginning with grounding the project in spiritual ceremony to putting forth their intentions and commitment to the project, to the language they use in their case management and cultural teachings they provide to young people.
Service Delivery (What does the program look like?)
A key component of Endaayaang’s HF4Y program is offering a broad range of culturally based housing options. The Hub acts as the central Indigenous community space, with offices for program staff and peer support workers and nine apartment units for youth with shared communal spaces. During evenings and weekends, Journey Coaches come to the Hub to provide cultural teachings to young people, foster a sense of community, and provide crisis support. In addition to the supportive housing at the Hub, Endaayaang will have two homes based on the Foyer Model, housing three youth and a peer mentor that lives within each of the homes. The third housing option, of course, is scattered site, independent apartment units throughout the city of Hamilton.
With the support of a Program Manager, three Endaayaang Navigators will be responsible for the intensive case management and guidance of 25 youth through their journey to adult self-sufficiency. In addition, Journey Coaches and Peer Support Mentors will assist the youth in building their social connections, strengthening family relationships and provide them with opportunities to explore their community lead by traditional values.
Challenges and solutions
The challenges and barriers Indigenous youth face are unique. These include family history, intergenerational trauma, and cultural and historical trauma. As many communities can relate, a lack of housing—affordable housing especially—and reputable landlords has also been a challenge. To address these challenges, the planners of Endaayaang spent time doing extensive research on the situation faced by Indigenous youth in Hamilton, connected with those in their community to gain interest and build trust, and helped promote an understanding of how HF4Y is an added resource to support the Hamilton community. The planning team held focus groups with youth, including youth with lived experience, to provide insights and guide the program’s design. They also travelled to meet with folks in Alberta who were doing similar work and could provide teachings to foster their growth.