Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center (AKNWRC) Advocacy Training: A Tool for Safety

By Tami Truett Jerue, Native Village of Anvik, Executive Director, AKNWRC, and Kristie Traver, Program Specialist, AKNWRC
Advocate Organizers at September 2023 Advocacy Training. / Photo courtesy of Andrea Wuya, AKNWRC.

The Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center (AKNWRC) provided its second advocacy training focused on rural Alaska Tribal programs with the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Tribal Set Aside Victim Service programs. Forty-eight participants from 14 different tribes participated. Many Tribes nationwide and in Alaska are developing and enhancing victim service programs as independent services or as part of broader justice system development. While each program is unique to its Tribe and/or community, advocacy services are critical with all of them. Victim advocates, regardless of their specific titles, are a critical resource to help victims and survivors navigate the systems that offer needed services and work towards broader systemic changes to ensure better services, processes, and outcomes for victims.

While several victim advocacy training courses have wonderful content, until this year, there has never been an Alaska Tribal cultural-specific, victim-centered advocacy training course. In addition to 40 hours of training content conducted in person, AKNWRC’s advocacy training program includes a mentorship component to connect with Advocacy Organizers (experienced Tribal victim advocates).

AKNWRC’s Advocacy Curriculum was developed by on-the-ground Tribal advocates with a long history of working in isolated/remote villages for years, often before formal programs were developed in these communities. Some communities operate without law enforcement, health care, shelter, or other supportive systems to assist victims/survivors. AKNWRC intends to offer the advocacy training program several times each year to ensure as many rural advocates as possible have access to training designed specifically for their needs. AKNWRC hopes to establish a network of advocates across Alaska who can access support and develop and create peer support amongst each other to help Tribal programs work within their Tribal justice systems to establish safety, support, and long-term healing for victims/survivors. Providing the opportunity to pair more experienced advocates) with newer advocates to help support and encourage them, transfer knowledge, and hopefully build sustainability across the state in Tribal victim services staffing. Many Tribal Advocates, especially those in rural Alaska, are one-staff programs that receive minimal support and guidance. AKNWRC’s advocacy training program was developed to meet their unique needs and improve services to Alaska Native victims and survivors.