Youth Leading in a Good Way (Oshkiiwaadizag Mino Niigaaniiwad)

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous; Gang-involved (and/or at risk); Placed out-of-home

Topic: Academic issues; Gang and/or related criminal activities

Setting: Rural/remote area; Urban area; Community-based setting

Location: Manitoba

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

Youth Leading in a Good Way (Oshkiiwaadizag Mino Niigaaniiwad) is a program implemented by the West Region Child and Family Services (WRCFS) in partnership with the First Nations Inuit Health Branch and local schools and community groups. The Youth Leading in a Good Way program is based on the Wraparound approachFootnote1 – a comprehensive, team-based approach that involves individualized care plans and a variety of formal and informal community services and supports to address specific risk factors.

The program is centered on community mobilization; conflict resolution; counselling and social work; leadership and youth development; skills training; parent training; and social emotional learning.


The main goals of the Youth Leading in a Good Way program are to:

  • Increase access to community supports and services for targeted youth-in-care who are at high risk of gang involvement and/or are gang-involved;
  • Increase access to individual and family counselling, cultural supports, and other opportunities where targeted youth-in-care can experience safety, belonging, resiliency, stability, mastery, and prosocial engagement with adults and peers; and
  • Increase school attendance or re-entry for targeted youth-in-care and promote success in the completion of high school.


The appropriate clientele for the Youth Leading in a Good Way program are youth between the ages of 13 and 21 years old who are gang-involved or are at the highest risk of gang involvement.

Participants are referred to the Youth Leading in a Good Way program by social workers.

To participate in the program, youth must be Aboriginal and living in one of the following First Nations communities: Pine Creek, Skownan, O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi, Tootinaowaziibeeng, Ebb and Flow, Keeseekoowenin, Rolling River, Waywayseecappo, and Gambler. Youth-in-care who live in the cities of Winnipeg, Brandon, and Dauphin may also participate.

Core Components

The Youth Leading in a Good Way program consists of:

  • Individualized services and support networks: Each participant will be supported by a Wraparound facilitator and a Circle of Care (a network of community supports and resources like elders, school representatives, and caregivers, etc.) throughout the intervention as they work through the goals and objectives they identified in their individualized care plan; and
  • Additional interventions: While each participant’s programming supports will be individualized and focused on their particular strengths and needs, additional activities may include: drug and addictions treatment; academic and employability supports; recreational activities; involvement in community activities; and involvement in cultural activities.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization must have solid skills in outreach, case planning, and program delivery. The lead organization must also have written policies regarding cultural competence in order to meet the needs of Aboriginal youth participating in the program.
  • Partnerships: The success of the Youth Leading in a Good Way program depends on its partnerships with male and female elders, school divisions and first nation education authorities, the RCMP and city police agencies, corrections and victim services, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM), and other community-based organizations.
  • Training and technical assistance: Staff must be trained in the Wraparound approach. Targeted youth-in-care are high-risk and may have experienced trauma/violence and mental health issues; therefore, staff require other training including Youth Gang Awareness, Staff Safety and Crisis Management, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and Emergency First Aid.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • 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

Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement the Youth Leading in a Good Way program in nine First Nations communities (Pine Creek, Skownan, O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi, Tootinaowaziibeeng, Ebb and Flow, Keeseekoowenin, Rolling River, Waywayseecappo, and Gambler), as well as three other cities (Dauphin, Brandon, and Winnipeg) in Manitoba between 2013 and 2019. The Youth Leading in a Good Way program is being implemented by West Region Child and Family Services.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of Youth Leading in a Good Way was conducted in 2018 by Mark Totten & Associates Inc.  A randomized wait listed control group design was used to evaluate Youth Leading in a Good Way.  A follow-up design for both the Treatment and Control group was used to measure change in risk over time.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • Youth attitudes and behaviours were evaluated on the following scales: resilience; family cohesion; prosocial attitudes; hopelessness; future aspirations; attitudes towards gangs; antisocial behaviour; drinking; drugs; depression /suicide; and employment/volunteering. 
  • No statistically significant improvements were noted over the 12 months when comparing youth in the Treatment group to the Control group on the above measures.
  • However, evaluators noted several promising results for future evaluations to unpack including decreased feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts or behaviours, and anti-social behaviours (e.g., vandalism, threatening others, theft, property damage and violence).
  • Evaluators also noted increased resilience over time among participants.

Cost Information

Between October 1, 2013 and August 30, 2018, the estimated total program cost was $1,567,068.73, and the total average cost per participant in the Treatment group was $6,903.30 (n=227).

Approximately $142,590.42 was expended to prevent each instance of suicidal consideration that would have occurred in the absence of the Wraparound program. Because of the novelty and complexity of conducting cost-benefit analysis on suicidal contemplation amongst Indigenous youth, caution should be exercised when reviewing findings.


Mark Totten & Associates Inc. (2018). Final Evaluation Report for the West Region Child and Family Services - Oshkiiwaadizag Mino Niigaaniiwad - Youth Leading in a Good Way Project. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

For more information on this program, contact:

West Region Child and Family Services

PO Box 280

Erickson, Manitoba R0J 0P0

Telephone: (204) 636-6100

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-15
Record Updated On - 2020-03-12
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    For more information on Wraparound, refer to the program descriptive sheet.

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