Full Circle Mentoring Program

Program snapshot

Age group: Late childhood (7-11); Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous

Topic: Social development

Setting: Rural/remote area; Urban area; School-based

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Primary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Full Circle Mentoring Program (FCMP) teaches youth traditional Aboriginal culture through arts and crafts. The program was designed to serve youth in grades K-12 primarily focusing on First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth. It was created in an effort to preserve and promote the culture to youth, while instilling leadership skills and encouraging them to give back to the community, thereby creating a full circle.

The program engages Aboriginal children and youth in critical hour programming, a time when an unsupervised child is most likely to participate in high-risk behaviour (such as drug or alcohol use, violence, and crime). ‘Critical hour programming’ engages children in cultural activities and mentoring which results in increased self-esteem, hope, and positive relationships.


The main goals of the Full Circle Mentoring Program are to:

  • Provide an opportunity for children and youth to explore and build an understanding of Aboriginal culture;
  • Provide after school programming to children and youth that live outside Fort McMurray, because they are often unable to participate in after-school programs; and
  • Build mentorship in Aboriginal youth and adults.


The appropriate clientele for the Full Circle Mentoring Program are Aboriginal youth (aged six to 18 years old) who have poor self-esteem and lack a sense of identity. The youth are exposed to their culture and positive role models through mentoring, allowing them to develop stronger, more meaningful relationships, have higher self-esteem, and are empowered to make healthier life decisions. Mentors and Mentees showcase their new skills and friendships during their full circle feast at the end of the school year.

Core Components

The Full Circle Mentoring Program’s model is a group mentoring model, partly because research suggests that group mentoring is more appropriate for Aboriginal children and youth and because it would fit best with the teen mentoring model the Committee envisioned.

The programming is based on a multi-tiered, group model consisting of:

  • Buddy groups that include 3 elementary students and 1 high school mentor;
  • After school program from 3:45 pm to 5:00 pm once a week at Nistawayou Friendship Centre (NFC);
  • There are 35 sessions following the school year with the last session taking place on June 21 (Aboriginal Day) with a closing celebration where the youth will showcase their new skills;
  • Content includes discussions about Aboriginal heritage, the Medicine Wheel, drum making, traditional dancing and other traditional crafts such as fish scale art and tepee making; and
  • Capacity for the program is approximately 13 mentees per school equaling a maximum number of 55 mentee participants per year.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements:
    • Schools: There should be an active participation of the schools to provide access to Aboriginal students and their families in the context of existing relationships of trust.
    • Aboriginal School Liaisons and Nistawayou Friendship Centre: The Aboriginal School Liaisons and the members of the NFC should provide expertise and cultural understanding that ensure the cultural integrity of the program. 
    • Child and Family Services: The Child and Family Services should play a key leadership role in the program development phase, by investing both time and resources in the development of the Committee, the identification of the mentoring model and the commitment of partner organizations. 
    • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo should provide the administrative expertise around mentoring programming along with the support from BBBS Calgary in terms of teen mentoring.
  • Partnerships: A collaborative mentoring partnership existed between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo (lead organization) and Alberta Mentoring Partnership, Northeast Child and Family Services, Father Turcotte Catholic School, Composite High School, Greely Road School, Dr. Clark Public School, YMCA Youth Connections, St Gabriel School, Father Mercredi HS, and Westview School.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • 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

The Full Circle Mentoring Program has been implemented within the urban area of Fort McMurray and in the rural community of Anzac (Alberta) from 2011 to 2014. Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Full Circle Mentoring Program. The findings from the study have shown the following:

  • With a total investment in the program of $262,546, the final SROI ratio was calculated to be 3.58:1, demonstrating that for every one dollar of investment in the program, a social value of $3.58 was created; and
  • The Full Circle Mentoring Program assists in avoiding costs from services such as school counsellors, the RCMP, family counselling services, and youth court processes.


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

For more information on this program, contact:

Big Brothers Big Sisters Society of Wood Buffalo
Amanda Herbert
Telephone: (780)791-2447
E-mail: edwd@bigbrothersbigsisters.ca

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-22
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: