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Past Projects

Since 1996, EPIC has designed, proposed, supervised and financially managed a broad range of project activities dedicated to the advancement of youth, young adults, parents and caregivers. The focus has been on African Nova Scotians, Mi’kmaq, disadvantaged learners and youth at-risk.

We've highlighted a few of the special projects that EPIC has managed and run, in addition to its on-going initiatives:  Youth Peer (since 1998), Parents PEACE (since 2004), and Outreach (since 2017). As well, below are the early EPIC projects that date back to the inception of the charity.



Service and Support for Former YPP Kids

A discussion, support and community service group made up of former Youth Peer Program kids up to 30 years of age. It ran from 2011 to 2019. Participants created a handbook to help other kids, volunteered within the community and fund-raised for other organizations.

Read more about the amazing volunteer spirit of this great group.

School Bus
MPACT :: 2009

Mi’kmaq Post-secondary Adult & Career Transit

In January 2009, a bus began transporting community college and university Mi’kmaq students from Eskasoni First Nations and Membertou First Nations to and from the campuses of Nova Scotia Community College-Marconi and Cape Breton University. This arose from an October 2008 meeting of the EPIC Board where it was decided that providing Mi’kmaq young adults with an opportunity for free transportation in order to promote excellent attendance for post-secondary education was well within the mandate of EPIC’s mission statement of helping marginalized students overcome obstacles.


Dan Christmas, who sat on the EPIC and NSCC-Marconi boards as well as being Senior Advisor to Membertou Band, arranged meetings with NSCC-Marconi officials. After the initial plan was in place, Barry Waldman, long an advocate of the need for this kind of support for native learners, took the lead on coordinating all aspects of this  service.

Under EPIC supervision, the project had a stunningly successful run as a pilot from January 2009 – June 2009 with the hope that the shared benefits would lead to a sustained partnership. During this time, a brand new bus dedicated to the post-secondary students was purchased by the Eskasoni School Board. In September 2009, the Eskasoni School Board took over supervision of this joint project with the participation and partnership of NSCC-Marconi, CBU and Membertou. The bus continues to provide transportation to this date so that people from Eskasoni and Membertou can continue their educations.

Senior and young holding hands.jpg
Eskasoni Elder Safety :: 2009

Eskasoni Elder Safety

The goal of Eskasoni Elder Safety, which began in January 2009, was to enhance Eskasoni seniors’ safety and well-being, improve police and seniors communication, and promote respect and positive relationships between seniors and youth. To these ends, the project initially encompassed two initiatives—Youth Giving Back to Elders and Elder Spirit—both of which involved broad community partnerships, supervised activities, and ongoing communication with the RCMP. With Squanto Oakley as project supervisor, EPIC administered this project in partnership with the Eskasoni Elder Society, Eskasoni High School, Eskasoni School Board, Eskasoni RCMP, and Eskasoni Health Centre from 2009 – 2011 at which time the management of the project was passed to the hands of the Eskasoni Elder Society.

Give Right Back :: 2008

Give Right Back

This project began, under the supervision of Brian Dwyer, as an adjunct project of the Youth Peer Program. Selected student participants were invited to volunteer for community service activities such as helping out at the SPCA, Two Rivers Wild Life Park, seniors BINGO, Special Olympics and the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign. After volunteering for an agreed upon period–usually ten hours–the students were presented with a certificate for community service. The project helped participants gain self-confidence, a broader awareness of their community, and a sense of their own potential for helping others.

Eskasoni Peer Math Tutoring :: 2007

Eskasoni Peer Math Tutoring

EPIC partnered with the Eskasoni School Board to bring Youth Peer-style math tutoring to the students of Eskasoni.

With funding from the Eskasoni School Board, teacher and current Principal of the Alison Bernard Memorial High School, Newell Johnson—who had been tutoring students after school on a volunteer basis for several years—supervised Eskasoni high school volunteers as they tutored junior high students in math.

EPIC provided financial management of this project as well as tutor education and on-going support and supervision. In 2012, the program’s administration was assumed by the Eskasoni School Board.

ADAPT :: 2005

Asset Development,  Adventure & Peer Tutoring

In 2005, EPIC entered into a three-year partnership with the Bay St. Lawrence Community Centre (Amy MacKinnon, Director) and Heartwood Institute in the ADAPT (Asset Development, Adventure & Peer Tutoring) project. This was funded by a grant to the Bay St. Lawrence Community Centre from the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation.

Bay St. Lawrence is a rural fishing community in the Highlands of Cape Breton. The purpose of this partnership is to assist in the delivery of gambling prevention strategies for the youth of this area.

The initiative had three parts.

  1. That the Community Centre to institute and maintain their own peer tutoring program with the guidance, assistance and support of EPIC and the Youth Peer Program. It began in 2005 under the tutelage of Amy MacKinnon. Youth volunteers travelled to several of the Youth Peer tutor training sessions in Sydney, Nova Scotia to learn how to be tutor/mentors. The program has been in place for two years with no shortage of elementary-aged clients or youth volunteers.

  2. To provide area youth with opportunities to experience the natural beauty of the world they inhabit, in new ways. Heartwood Institute is providing them with a variety of outdoor camping trips—one of them a winter excursion!

  3. A 3-year investing project in which EPIC provides interested youth with workshops, virtual portfolios, online help and on-going contests in how to do responsible investing.

EMPATHIC :: 2003

Emotional Maturity, Problem-solving, Awareness Targeting Higher Impulse Control

EPIC is proud to have spearheaded the development of the Aboriginal EMPATHIC Program in partnership with the Eskasoni School Board—one of the longest established and most successful First Nations-operated school boards in Canada. It is an aboriginally-adapted version of the internationally studied, well-researched, highly rated and proven social-emotional curriculum, PATHS–Education Worldwide (Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies).

EMPATHIC teaches children about emotions—how to recognize and name them in themselves and others and what to do with their emotions once they’ve learned to identify them.

This project was developed, piloted, and evaluated at the Eskasoni Elementary and Middle School beginning in 2003, as a three-year national demonstration project supported by Canada’s National Crime Prevention Centre. The overall purpose was to develop a curriculum that addressed school problems related to low impulse control, anti-social behaviors, bullying, weak attachment to school and incidents of violence.


Over the years of this funding, the Eskasoni School Board—with EPIC’s editorial, financial and organizational support—developed and began implementation of this new curriculum in Eskasoni Elementary School.

Early EPIC Projects

EMPATHIC :: 2003-2006

Curriculum development and evaluation

FUNDERS: National Crime Prevention, Investment Fund || In-kind contributions || Management Team agencies

Partnership with the managing organization, Eskasoni School Board, in the aboriginal adaptation of PATHS, a social-emotional curriculum for grades 1-5 with EPIC having responsibility for project supervision (including working with evaluators), editing, production and teacher support in the early stages.

Community Youth Volunteer Empowerment :: 2003-2004

Handbook production

FUNDERS: Volunteer Canada

Production of the Volunteer Empowerment Tool-kit by & for Youth Peer Volunteers and the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative

Youth PEER Transformation :: 2003-2005

Previous incarnation of the Youth Peer Program

FUNDERS: Justice Canada, Youth Justice Division ||  The Law Foundation of Nova Scotia ||  National Crime Prevention - Community Mobilization ||  Cape Breton Employability Partnership ||  RBC Foundation

Peer tutoring with art and music instruction and small group social interaction to reduce incarceration of high-risk young offenders

Youth PEERS Program :: 2001-2003

Promoting Esteem & Encouraging Re-entry Support

FUNDERS: Justice Canada ||  Salvation Army ||  Island Community Justice || Cape Breton School Board

Peer tutoring with art and music instruction and small group social interaction to reduce incarceration of high-risk young offenders

Peer Haven :: 2001

Ongoing Community Activated Learning

FUNDERS:  Human Resources Development ||  Eskasoni First Nation

Peer tutoring, theatre and art to encourage at-risk junior high students to stay in school

Safe Haven :: 1999 - 2000


FUNDERS: National Crime Prevention, Community Mobilization

Development and management of a variety of workshops, cultural animations, theater presentation by youth and elders in various settings on crime prevention, youth empowerment and anti-racism.

Black Adult Literacy :: 1999

Linking Ancestral Stories to Teaching (BALLAST)

FUNDERS: National Literacy Secretariat

Development of writing competence based on Cape Breton Black history stories

Heritage Enhancement of Adult Literacy :: 1999


FUNDERS:  Canadian Heritage || National Literacy Secretariat || Ethiopian Community Club

Development of adult literacy materials from interviews of Black community leaders

Peer Literacy Project :: 1998 - 2000

Peer tutoring in four communities

FUNDERS: National Literacy Secretariat || Justice Canada || Canadian Heritage || Isaac Walton Killam Foundation || Eskasoni First Nation || Membertou First Nation ||  Cape Breton School Board

Peer tutoring for at-risk Black, First Nation junior/senior high students and elementary students with diagnosed learning differences; creation of community safe havens for crime prevention

LINKS :: 1998

Multicultural facilitation program

FUNDERS: Nova Scotia Education & Culture || Union of Nova Scotia Indians || Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq || Native Council of Nova Scotia

Field-of-study internships for 92 Mi’kmaq university students across Nova Scotia

Family Resource :: 1998

Enhancement of Socialization and Health (FRESH)

FUNDERS: Isaac Walton Killam Foundation || Ethiopian Community Club || Family Resource Center

Expanded family resource and literacy services for the Cape Breton Black community

Black Literacy :: 1997

Transforming aspiration into access

FUNDERS: National Literacy Secretariat

Community development training to increase Black adult literacy

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