Walking the Path Together

Program snapshot

Age group: Late childhood (7-11)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous; Families; Placed out-of-home

Topic: Aggressive/violent behaviours; Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Family (domestic) violence/child maltreatment

Setting: Rural/remote area; Community-based setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Walking the Path Together (WTPT) project helped develop culturally relevant program resources for child residents of on-reserve shelters that were previously lacking, and established a model for service delivery based on a long-term, intensive and flexible approach and principles of strength-based intervention, matched to the context and needs of the children. The Danger Assessment tool was also revised specifically to better meet the needs of Aboriginal women resident on-reserve.

This program is centered on community mobilization; conflict resolution; counselling and social work; family therapy; mentoring – tutoring; parent training; leadership and youth development; skills training; and substance prevention/treatment.


The main goals of the WTPT program are to:

  • Ensure that youth are not living with violence at home; and
  • Ensure that youth are not engaging in behaviour that would be deemed criminal if they were 12 years of age or older.


The appropriate clientele for the WTPT program is Aboriginal youth (and their families) between the ages of 6 and 11 who have witnessed family violence, experienced the shelter system, and lived on-reserve.

During the course of the program, 300 participants have been served, including 67 six and seven year olds, 104 adult caregivers, and 129 siblings. There were 3,681 different service contacts, including case management, individual and family counseling, talking circles, and many others.

Core Components

The core components of the WTPT program include the following:

  • Case management: A careful and thorough assessment of the participants is conducted. Services are also tailored to address the youth’s circumstances;
  • Individual and family counselling: Where appropriate, children and families are connected to resources available through child welfare, health or income support;
  • Talking circles: Youth and their families are connected with community members and Elders for spiritual guidance; and
  • Additional activities: Three other types of activities are offered to families including educational activities (i.e., tutoring, homework clubs, and art); traditional and spiritual activities (i.e., round dances, praying, smudging, pipe ceremonies, and sweats); and recreational activities (i.e., picnics, swimming, camping, soccer, and fishing).

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: Organizations must ensure that wisdom from the First Nation culture is incorporated into all facets of the program.
  • Partnerships: The project was a collaboration between ACWS, five member organizations on-reserve, the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System (CCFJS), and Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell of John Hopkins University.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: The Danger Assessment Tool was revised and used for the program.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The WTPT program was implemented in shelters across Alberta by the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. The Alberta Safe Communities Innovation Fund provided implementation funding from 2009-2013 and Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided implementation funding from 2009-2014.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

Between 2009 and 2012, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (Hoffart, 2014) conducted an evaluationFootnote1 of the Walking the Path Together program using a mixed methods approach. More specifically, participants (n = 63) and their families were required to complete a number of questionnaires (WTPT Danger Assessment Seasonal Calendar; WTPT Danger Assessment Questionnaire; WTPT Danger Assessment Circle; and the WTPT Danger Assessment Caregiver Questionnaire) at intake and throughout the duration of the program. Interviews with shelter staff and program stakeholders were also conducted.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • The program reduced children’s exposure to violence by completing safety plans or an equivalent curriculum with the caregivers, supporting many abusive persons to enter counselling, and helping decrease the amount of contact between the child and the abusive person. At the program’s conclusion, over half of the children were no longer exposed to violence, and many understood the consequences of violence and that it is wrong;
  • By program completion, 20 of 63 children (31%) understood that violence is wrong. An additional 14 children (22%) started to openly talk about violence in their homes or at school, became aware of different types of violence, or indicated that they did not like it and understood the consequences of violence; and
  • There were 44 families that were not involved in any type of criminal activities over the course of the program (66%). There was criminal involvement among seven families (10%) but those instances were only recorded in the first program year and not in the second program year. There was criminal involvement recorded throughout family participation in the program for the remaining 16 families (24%).

For more information, refer to Hoffart’s (2014) publication.

Cost Information

A Social Return on Investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Walking the Path Together program. The results from this assessment have shown the following:

  • Over the course of two years, the overall social value of investment in the Walking the Path Together program was $5.42 (CAD) for every dollar invested. This is the composite of two-years of value creation, including $5.05 (CAD) in social value created in Year 2 and $5.80 (CAD) created in Year 3.

For more information, refer to the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations’ (2015) publication.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Walking the Path Together. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries   

Hoffart, I. (2014). Walking the Path Together Evaluation – Phases I and II: Report to Safe Communities Innovation Fund. The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. Final Evaluation Report. Available from: https://www.acws.ca/links-and-resources  

National Crime Prevention Centre. (2014). Building the Evidence - Crime Prevention in Action:  Walking the Path Together. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/wlkng-pth/index-eng.aspx  

Reimer J. (2014). Walking the Path Together: Final Project Report. Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. Final report submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre. (Unpublished report)

For more information on this program, contact:

Alberta Council of Women's Shelters
320 – 10310 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2W4
Telephone: (780) 456-7000
Website: https://www.acws.ca/  

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-14
Record Updated On - 2018-04-23
  1. 1

    A process evaluation study of the program was also conducted through Public Safety Canada’s funding. For more information, communicate with the Research Division, Public Safety Canada.

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