What is School Based Early
Intervention Buffalo Rider
Developed to strengthen the capacity of First Nations
communities and First Nations Schools in addressing
risks related to substance abuse through a school
based early intervention program for Grade 7 and 8
Began as a pilot project in Manitoba in 2011
Presently national training that is held in London
four times a year
Why at School?
Adolescents who feel connected to their school have
significantly lower rates of emotional distress,
suicidal thoughts and behaviours, violence,
( Resnick,et al., 1997)
Intersects with School Health
All sessions indicate which specific MB provincial
health learning outcome is addressed
How was the Project Service
Assess the situation
Prepare a plan and build capacity
Implement a comprehensive initiative
Evaluate all parts with both process and outcome
evaluation ( CCSA School Based Standards, 2010)
What were the Strategies of the
Community Needs Assessment/ Curriculum component selection
Individual Addiction Assessment Brief Screen (DUSI-R)
Pre and Post Emotional Intelligence, Drug Use Survey Inventory
(DUSI) and Resiliency Assessment with individual development
plan for student and classroom use
Curriculum- 25 ready to use culturally based sessions focusing on
emotional literacy, emotion regulation, resiliency, and peer
resistance. (community delivery included a pre selected 10
Varied Instructional strategies
Staff 1 Lead trainer and the opportunity for Development/Capacity
Online and in person training, to equip local community staff and
NNADAP workers with knowledge skills and mindset for
continued implementation and community follow up
Content of Program
Small group early intervention activities that blend a
range of different modalities, including:
educational or discussion approaches
brief intervention and motivational perspectives
cognitive behavioural strategies
skill-based decision-making methods
social and interpersonal skill development
culturally relevant content
Why did the Project begin?
The aim of this project was to:
Increase utilization of early intervention
Decrease demand for long term intensive treatment
Decrease substance-use and harms
What were the Project
The project deliverables were:
Development of 25 training modules to support a 10
session life skills-based after school or in-school
program for youth aged 11-13 years old.
Delivery of 20 after school and/or in school
programs in 20 different communities by March 30,
Development and management of an on-going
community of practice site and facilitator support.
The first set of facilitators trained will have
opportunity to support participants in the second
round of facilitator training.
What were the theories used?
As referenced in the NNAPF proposal, positive-
identity development increases hope, vision for
future and resiliency. Accurate information
regarding the impact of colonization on establishing
positive identity reduces drug and alcohol use.
Strength-based practices, including positive identity
development, increase resiliency. Social and
emotional competency, combine with peer
resistance to reduce drug and alcohol use.
What were the theories used?
Improved capacity at the community level to deliver
early intervention services results in more
appropriate referrals for more intensive, longer term
treatment and, eventually, less demand for long
term, intensive drug treatment services.
One-time interventions do not lead to sustainable
change. Community capacity to provide appropriate
supports increase opportunities for sustained
How did the Project get started?
Early Communication with and Selection of
Developing Community profiles
Delivery of Facilitator Training
Gathering community support
Selecting curriculum modules
Selecting youth participants
Delivering the Program
Developing community capacity and sustainability
How did the Buffalo Rider
Program Perform? Features: What features make BR appealing to both its target audience and facilitators?
Reliability: Reliability is the likelihood that the program will not fail within a specific time period.
Conformance: Did Buffalo Riders match its intended proposal?
Durability: In the case of BR durability, really means sustainability (can it live on)?
Serviceability: Serviceability is the speed with which the product can be put into service when it breaks down, as well as the
competence and the behavior of the service person. Under this quality dimension, the process is the service.
Aesthetics: Aesthetics is the subjective dimension indicating the kind of response a user has to a product. It represents the
individual’s personal preference.
Perceived Quality: Perceived Quality is the quality attributed to a good or service based on indirect measures.
Relevance. The services being provided must be relevant to the group of people being served.
Accessibility. The services must be timely and equitable.
Client-centredness. The services must prioritize the perspective and experience of clients and their families.
Continuity. The services must be coordinated and seamless.
Effectiveness. The services must lead to the best possible results.
Efficiency. The services must achieve the best results using the fewest resources feasible
What was learned from the
Time and patience to have an impact on community
capacity and on outcomes for youth.
Challenges in FN Communities are significant and
must be considered and supported if the program is
going to have sustainability and impact. Patience
(time), perseverance and after support are essential.
Community resources to help youth develop positive
self-concept and resiliency through cultural
teachings are available. This program offers an
opportunity for these community resources/people
to come together through a school-based program
and make a connection with youth in a safe and
What was learned from the Project?
Gathering the community facilitators together for a
two-day debriefing after implementation served an
important purpose beyond evaluation. Not only did
it serve to provide rich information about how the
program was working to support continuous
improvement, it also served as a venue for
reinforcement and learning among participants,
strengthening both individual commitment and
capacity for further development in the community.
What did Manitoba learn from the
The program well exceeded its intended client target as some communities
chose to deliver to entire classes, grades, and deliver to small groups
multiple times. Additionally, there were instances where content was adapted
into local language and used with other age groups, including community
packaging and the user friendly nature of the content appealing.
supplies were included and culturally appropriate.
locally adaptable, rather than a standard manual with no flexibility.
content was laid out in concrete lesson plans and that it identified where it
supported the Manitoba Health curriculum.
access to all of the print material electronically
after support and debriefing sessions from the Project Manager
Where is the Project Today?
At the community level there are already examples where
the program is being used regularly and community
resources are assigned to support it.
A key element of this program was:
the active after support element of the program that
served to keep facilitators on track,
give them encouragement,
help them when they encountered barriers, etc.
The debriefing element helped to round out this support.
All facilitators thought these elements were critical and
many felt they would not have persisted with implementing
the program had these elements not been there.
NNAPF and the Manitoba Health, Healthy Living & Seniors
continue to communicate and partner building a sound
relationship for any future funding options and projects.
Why attend training?
What was happening in the school and community?
Both Connie and Anna were leading the fight against bullying at Mikisew School.
Bullying is an underlying cause of youth suicide and alcohol and drug abuse in
aboriginal communities. The very reason that NNAPF training modules were
created. I found the Buffalo rider modules were adaptable and can be used as a
bullying prevention tool because of the self-esteem building tools and self-
I also believe that a lot of the youth that misuse alcohol and drugs are trying to
change how they feel. The same reason that students at very young ages tease
and bully. This carries on to adulthood. In my opinion, belittling is the biggest form
of teasing we are trying to feel better than another so we make them feel small
and worthless but at what cost? This is also rampant in aboriginal communities.
I have always looked for outside resources to help with the students of Mikisew
School to succeed. So when I saw the invitation for the NAPPF Buffalo riders
program. I quickly jumped on the opportunity for training because I was hoping it
would provide more tools for the wellbeing of the students. The application form
itself was very interesting because it asked for demographics and questions about
alcohol and drugs and ages that might be using. Also we could measure if the
program benefited the students through surveys.
What happen for you during 5
days of training?
During the training I received lots of resource information- the facilitator
Nora Bressette was very knowledgeable in teaching techniques. Nora also
brought with her resource material the trainees could use. Training
manuals and student books we could do no wrong if we applied what we
were taught. The reason buffalo riders program worked in Mikisew School
is because administration were supporting it 100%.
Choosing Modules to meet Community Needs: We were instructed to
choose modules based on community and student needs. I found it had
meaning and purpose for the students at Mikisew they really put effort into
Met and interacted with new people from other First Nations
Came back with a group phase map, so I knew which modules I was
going to use and how; as I had time to develop them at training
Felt rejuvenated, excited, empowered
How did you Choose your
Choosing Modules to meet Community Needs
- Had a brain storming session with my partner earlier
to look at the community dynamics and needs of the
- Worked with partner to decide on what would best
meet the students needs
How Receptive was the School?
School Acceptance of Buffalo Rider Program:
I had a meeting with both the grade 8 teacher and School
Principal. I showed them the modules both Greg (Principal)
and Anna (former culture teacher) were impressed with the
set up of how the module goals and objectives connected to
the School Health Curriculum for the province of Manitoba.
They were both so excited to try something new, interesting
and cultural in the classroom.
What motivated me to continue with the project is Mikisew
school principal Connie McIvor and Vice Principal Anna
Letter from Grade 8 Teacher
June 11, 2014
To whom it may concern:
This letter is in reference to the Buffalo Riders program that took place at Mikisew
Middle School on the school year of 2011-2012. Ron LePage presented this program to
my grade 8 students in a span of 3 months. I had 25 students at that time and like any
classroom my students were unique and had their own characteristics. I had a variety of
students who were dealing with issues from bullying, drugs and alcohol, peer pressure,
depression, low self-esteem, identity issues/loss, family crisis, affected by suicide, and
others who were in dilemmas such as the conditions and circumstances at home they
succumb to and had no control over. My biggest challenge at the beginning of the school
year was to get them to adjust to each other and be able to reach them academically. To
be successful, I achieved this goal by showing them my genuine sincerity of caring first
and foremost, along with a lot of patience. I had some support but also I knew I required
much more needed support and teamwork from outside of the classroom. This is when
this program was introduced to me by Ron and the principal Greg Halcrow. After an
explanation and looking at the program, I knew this would benefit my students in a much
required and positive way.
Ron Lepage taught this program with my students in a span of 3 months approximately ten times
consisting each time of 45 minutes. Ron was excellent at presenting the material with the
students. He explained the material thoroughly for all the students. The students were engaged
and interested with this program. Ron used the lessons to the extreme. As a result, he brought out
so many emotions that were suppressed for such a long time for some in the classroom. More
students came out and spoke out about their issues and problems. The program was successful in
teaching the kids to express their needs. Also the bullying incidents decreased dramatically, more
kids found strength and found their voice to express their concerns on bullying and the fact that
bullying can be prevented and dealt with.
The lessons that had more impact to the classroom were, Letter to a future me, The Hardened
Heart, CD me, The Seven Grandfathers and What’s in Your Bundle. I participated with some of
these lessons especially the CD me. I had my song picked out which one George Jones, “He
stopped loving her today.” From my personal past experience this song has powerful meaning for
my life personally. We listened to it together and the students were surprised about the meaning of
the song. From there they knew what they had to do with theirs. The other lesson I participated
and provide my input was the Seven Grandfathers, also from past experience from the
misconception of our Cree culture; I was never exposed to such things as the pow wow,
ceremonies but was taught the teachings of the Seven Grandfathers excluding the animals
representing each teaching. I was exposed to these teachings from my aunts, uncles, parents and
most of all my grandparents. I was fortunate enough to witness and learn my grandparent’s
traditional teachings and most important was also surrounded by them also. I explained this to the
students and had an idea on what they had to do.
Overall of this program, it is very useful for the students and most of all it is
beneficial. The outcomes of this program proved positive for the students as well
Anna C. McKay
Cross Lake, Manitoba
June 16, 2014
To whom it may Concern:
This is a letter of support for Mr. Ron Lepage and the program that he introduced
into our community of Cross Lake, Buffalo Riders: School Based Early Intervention.
This program was implemented into the school of which I was the principal. We
needed some sort of early intervention with some of our youth in the school that
were showing signs of high risk behavior, namely fighting with their peers and
confrontations with staff, etc. The program Buffalo Riders enable the students an
outlet to release their frustrations in a control safe environment. Under the guidance
of Mr. Lepage they were able to do this; I highly recommend this program to any
school that is concerned about their high risk students.
Director of Education
Cross Lake Education Authority
Cross Lake, Manitoba
Support from Principal/ Director of Education
How did you manage Culture in a
Culture in a Christian Community:
The Modules were culturally based and very easy to
explain. Some of the students that attend Mikisew
School come from Christian homes and their parents
oppose cultural activities. I had to change the way I
explained a few of the modules, but left the workbook
How did you get Community
Buffalo Rider Program requirement was to have school and
The Principal felt that the program met the school and
curriculum needs. Therefore, the program would be no
different than adopting any other program within the school;
that met the needs of the students and community; so he gave
approval and notified parents about the program.
How should others work with
Working with Youth:
My recommendations to other trainers do not see the current
youth you are working with as the future because they will be
forgotten they are the present and need to be treated as such
they are special gifts from god and need to be nurtured.
So whatever we can do today, using out of the box thinking,
no matter what anybody else thinks, try it.
Helping many youth that feel hopeless and helpless before
they turn to alcohol and drugs is worth it! I truly believe that.
That’s what keeps me motivated and gets me up every
How did you handle all the
At training Nora assigned each community with a number for us
to use to number the students and keep a record of which
students went with each number for the pre and post
The classroom teacher assisted me with completing the
assessments during classroom time. We completed the three
assessments with fun activities such as the Destination
Postcard/ Letter to Me to keep the youth engaged
The assessments were faxed to Nora for her to input them into
the data base
How did you contribute to the
Development of New Training Module #26
“What’s in My Bundle?”
A bundle is one of the most sacred symbols of Indigenous life as a very
precious possession which represents a person's spiritual life, and may
possess powers for protection and healing. As the owner grows older,
more items may be added to it.
Can belong to an individual or group
Sometimes called Medicine Bundle
Different across nations
Can involve a pouch or carrying bag
Contains objects of significance to your family, clan and personal
What did you learn as a Mentor?
- Came back as a mentor to the debriefing and
second training session. I really enjoyed sharing
what I had learned with the next group of facilitators
- Learned from the new facilitators as well
What have you taken away from
I learned that specific modules could create different outcomes the intended purpose can be
routed differently without that being the intention. The buffalo riders program was intended for
youth that start using alcohol and drugs as a prevention/ intervention tool.
However as I stated previous, I found the modules helped the students build self esteem and
confidence. To bring the awareness of bullying to the administrations attention. Bullying has
always been an underlying issue in students leading to suicide ideation, alcohol and drug use,
So in my opinion buffalo rider’s modules strengthened the youth’s inner strength by providing
information. And hopefully teaching healthy coping skills they can carry and use as they go
through their life’s journey.
I also learned that one on one counselling in schools is benefited. Group counselling has
greater benefits for the students many students feel alone and outcast. A group session like
the buffalo riders program brings youth together and embraces their strengths and increases
As a facilitator, in my case a counsellor there is strength in numbers; I have more students
that learned to be empathetic and are willing to listen and the negative side is confidentiality.
Trust building among youth after it is broken can be hard to repair even though youth are
What have you taken away from
Mentoring in schools is very important for our
aboriginal students learn from seeing and following
examples set by staff. I truly believe we teach
people how to treat us.
If we disrespect, tease, lie then they will do the
same in turn to us. We are being paid to be
professional and to teach. We need to understand
we are here for the students, they are not there for
Pre and post self-evaluation of community facilitators' skill and knowledge
Structured post implementation debriefing over two days with community facilitators, trainer,
curriculum developer, project leader and external evaluator, program implementation rates
and student completion rates.
DUSI (Drug Use Survey Inventory) was used to determine which students were high risk, at
the beginning and end of the program to assess each student's current association and use
of drugs or alcohol.
The Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Competency Assessment, Youth Version (SEI-YV)
to assess immediate changes in knowledge, behaviours and protective factors associated
with harmful substance use.
Resiliency assessment was used to establish existing resiliency traits. This is a First
Nations owned and developed 28 item scale designed to measure resilience in youth in 8
key competency area of the youth's self-esteem specific to their cultural identity.
• Many facilitators over came their challenges and were able to
deliver the project (time and change in staffing)
More facilitators are doing school substance use interventions
One group sought court approval and uses this project as an
alternative for youth justice
Two communities adapted this program to use with adults
Many convert the teachings to their community language and
• 40 community service providers trained in
School Based Early Intervention practises.
• 21 school staff and 19 NNADAP staff in rural and remote
Evidence of knowledge/skills gained by facilitators with
• 2 mentors from Buffalo Riders 1 training session attended
second training (Buffalo Riders 2) session and 2
"It was important to have another person (co-facilitator) to be there for support, especially to attend to individual
student needs. If one facilitator did not connect with a student, the other one was able to. It was more difficult to
offer the program when the co-facilitator wasn’t able to participate any longer. “
What were the best elements of
Cultural component all the way
"The materials focus on changing the way we think – if you look for the negative, that
is what you see. I used the Creation Story to support positive changes and build
positive identity. Where does it say that we are violent, dishonest and weak. We are
born to be kind, honest and strong."
How the lesson plans were already made out. Discussion and describing our
communities aspects- cultural shortfalls
Working with the different modules with others helped reinforce the lessons of each
module. The buffalo rider and balance was good.
I found the behaviour therapy module to provide useful information. The ANTS is
very interesting and the appreciative response/ questions were useful.
The facilitator was clear very well explained. The particular module that was really
well done the example of the Buffalo and its riders. I know the buffalo was not
intended to ride, unlike a horse. A person tends to slide off the Buffalo. You must
keep trying to hang on and put your effort in order to maintain being a rider! Good
• Teaching the facilitators training to the community programs built a stronger
understanding of alcohol and drugs
• Facilitator’s experience facilitating with youth did not result in being a factor in their
delivery of the program.
facilitator who had no prior facilitation skills stated: “I have learned a foundation and I
can grow in that area”
Another was afraid to deliver the modules, so “I asked the community for help and
brought in different community facilitators to complete the project
• Built a team that includes the resource people in the community: treatment centre,
wellness centre, chief and council, school, to get them involved and create awareness
• BR Facilitators adapted the BR trainer curriculum to be more specific to their
community and delivered the training to the community program staff. The community
were excited about implementing the program. This was more of a community
Confidence in facilitating programs with students and more knowledge in prevention
Most of the training could be passed on to coworkers to teach the target group
The program was completed in eleven communities (10
modules delivered) with 326 youth. Another four communities
were in various stages of implementation on March 31, 2013.
The completion of pre and post assessments was overall low.
164 youth completed various portions of their assessments.
Their assessment results were entered into the database for
the Drug Use Screening Inventory (DUSI), Resiliency, and Six
Seconds Emotional Intelligence – Youth Version (SEI-YV).
Implementing the DUSI Brief Screen brought awareness to the
communities about their youth, so the DUSI Brief Screen in
communities assists with awareness
Drug Use Screening Inventory
Absolute Problem Density measures Substance Use, Behaviour Pattern, Health Status,
Psychiatric Disorder, Social Competence, Family System, School Performance, Work
Adjustment, Peer Relationship, Leisure/Recreation
When: August 11-15/14
Where: COURTYARD MARRIOTT, Exeter Road, London Ontario
Cost: $1700.00 ( includes, training manual, student handbook, reading material, 26 modules,
games, books, pre/post assessments, etc.)
“what is important is you have an understanding of what
you want to accomplish and that is in harmony with what
your clients want to achieve” (p.42). Corey, Schneider- Corey and Haynes (2006)