Cultivating Safe Spaces: A Program Theory Overview and Formative Evaluation


Naqsmist is an Indigenous-led organization with roots in the Syilx and Secwepemc Nations.

In 2019, following the release of The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Elaine Alec was tasked with a monumental undertaking. The government of British Columbia was instructed by Indigenous leadership to create a B.C.-based action plan with input from Indigenous communities in the province. Elaine’s growing consulting company was awarded the contract to lead the engagement sessions on behalf of the province with Elaine as the lead facilitator. She was already managing the pressures of a growing business and was now thinking about how to lead conversations on a subject that was raw with emotions and trauma. As a syilx woman and Knowledge Keeper, Elaine turned to the teachings she grew up with from her Elders within the syilx nation to create a framework for safe, trauma-informed and decolonized dialogue.

Using the principles of Enowkinwixw, a syilx governance methodology, Elaine created Cultivating Safe Spaces (CSS) to use in the engagement sessions across the province. While the discussions around such a devastating topic were not easy, the framework provided the environment needed to have conversations with care and humanness, and the work resulted in A Path Forward: Priorities and Early Strategies for B.C., recommendations and strategies to address violence against MMIWGLGBTQQIA+ in B.C.

To learn more about this research project and its findings, view the entire body of work here:

Related System Perspectives Research

Research Synthesis: System Perspectives on the BC Community Social Services Sector

The Community Social Services (CSS) sector is composed of thousands of service providers spanning the entire province and multiple areas of service….

The Taskforce to End Homelessness in Burnaby Video

A case study evaluation of the initiative and assessment of its service model as potential best practice for helping to address homelessness at a community level….

Dimensions of Community Social Service in BC

The community social services sector provides an array of services and supports to people across British Columbia (BC)….

Cultivating Safe Spaces: A Program Theory Overview and Formative Evaluation

An overview of the origins and philosophical underpinnings of CSS, an exploration of current applications of the methodology, a discussion of the need for CSS in modern society, then a presentation of our research methodology, findings, and analysis….

Advancing Community Engagement in Healthcare in Rural BC

In 2020, the Centre for Rural Health Research (CRHR) undertook a provincial survey to understand and document the healthcare priorities of rural communities across BC….

Sustainability of the Community Social Services Sector Through Institutional Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Partnerships

Through the literature review, the research team identified seven factors which formed the basis for good practices and quality WIL across social service organizations….

BCSTH Bursary Fund Program Evaluation Report

Flexible financial assistance is a powerful tool for economic empowerment among gender-based violence (GBV) survivors and is becoming an increasingly common strategy to enhance safety and economic and housing stability…