Staff at BRAVE: Back row (L-R): Lila Pavey and Dr. Jennifer Bernier; front row (L-R): Robin Campbell, Kate Wright, Leticha Lucas, Julie McLellan, Lauren Butler and Haley Lundy.
SNAP reaches Eastern Canada: The story of BRAVE
Working with adults who end up in the criminal justice system is no easy task. Dr. Jennifer Bernier, PhD, knows this first-hand, having spent many years researching the experiences of incarcerated women in the Atlantic provinces. This work prompted her to explore programming that could prevent this unfortunate life trajectory for high-risk individuals, particularly with females. It was on this path that Jennifer discovered SNAP.
SNAP stood out for Jennifer due to its gender-based focus, and its power to stop children from entering the criminal justice system later in life. As Founder and Executive Director of BRAVE in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jennifer became the first person to introduce SNAP as an evidence-based, preventative model for high-risk girls and their families in Atlantic Canada.
“In Nova Scotia there are no services like SNAP, and there is often a void in care for girls who are experiencing behavioural difficulties. The girls that come into the program feel an immediate sense of safety and trust, and we can see positive change in as little as one or two sessions. All of our stakeholders – professionals in education, police, government and health – are delighted to have SNAP in our region, and agree that it is a much-needed program.”
As one of BRAVE’s community stakeholders noted, the prevention of future delinquent and criminal behavior will always be preferable to responding to and investigating issues later. Over the last two years, with the partnership of police, schools, health professionals, and local community agencies, BRAVE has been delivering SNAP to girls and their families, and to 14 classes in seven elementary schools - with an additional five schools (seven classrooms) slated for SNAP programming this fall.
Child Development Institute congratulates BRAVE for helping drive social change for young girls and their families in Nova Scotia through SNAP.
“It is rare to work in a job where you get to see lives change on a daily basis,” says Jennifer. Through the SNAP National Expansion, CDI looks forward to bringing SNAP to more children and their families in communities across Canada.
“It is rare to work in a job where you get to see lives change on a daily basis.”
Jennifer Bernier, PhD, Founder and Executive Director of BRAVE: The Centre for Building Resilience through Anti-Violence Education