About the 4Y Program

Why is this program important?

This program supports children and youth with a disability caused by prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). When an individual who has been exposed to alcohol while they are still in the womb gets a diagnosis for this disability, it is referred to as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).


PAE and FASD are associated with a number of cognitive, learning, social, and emotional challenges. This can contribute to involvement in risky behaviour, including substance abuse and crime. It can also contribute to poor mental health, depression, anxiety, and social isolation.

It is extremely important for youth with FASD to have regular access to life skills support. The 4Y Program is designed to meet the specific needs of this group. Navigators directly address the challenges that participants may be experiencing, and make sure to capitalize on their strengths along the way. The program also prioritizes proper diet and exercise, because addressing the overall health of the youth in the program supports their success. 

4Y Program Background

The 4Y Program began in June 2019 due to the apparent need for direct support for young people with PAE and FASD as they transition into adulthood.

In Yellowknife, the 4Y Program complements other community programs and services available to support the youth participants, therefore contributing to a higher quality of care in the city. It also supports caregivers and others in the youth’s social network, which improves the capacity for care.

The program encourages:
-improved physical and mental health
-improved self-confidence and self-determination
-more community involvement in the transition planning of the youth in the community
-the prevention and reduction of additional challenges such as mental health issues, addictions, police involvement, and self-harm 


According to a 2014 report by the McCreary Centre Society, less than 1% of youth in mainstream schools reported having FASD, yet 21% of youth in custody indicated having the condition. Also, 17% of youth aged 12 - 19 with FASD had been detained in a custody centre, compared to only 1% of youth this age without FASD. 


In Yellowknife, there are many social programs that individuals with FASD can join, however accessing these resources can be difficult without someone to help with navigation in the community.

From 2010 - 2016, 61 children aged 7 - 16 went through the FASD diagnostic clinic in the territory, and 39 were diagnosed with FASD. Unfortunately, there are few reliable statistics in regards to the number of people actually living with FASD in the Northwest Territories as a whole, because many people with FASD go without receiving a formal diagnosis, for various reasons.

Youth in Care

There is a higher prevalence of FASD in children and youth who are in care. Many youth in care have been placed in multiple foster and/or group homes throughout their childhood, so they have been set up, by definition, to experience attachment disorders. Attachment disorders lead to an inability to: trust others, to engage in positive social interactions, and to experience healthy psychological development. For individuals with FASD, developing healthy attachments is already more difficult due to their disability.


Youth with FASD are more likely than those without this disability to experience housing instability. They are almost twice as likely than their peers to have moved in the past year, and over four times more likely to have run away in the last year. A 2018 report from the City of Yellowknife indicated that 338 people were experiencing homelessness, 42% of which were 24 years of age and under. 

What do participants do in 4Y?

In the 4Y Program, participants:

1) are physically active and learn about healthy living choices

2) do activities or work on a skill of their choice such as: photography, computer maintenance, gardening, hair styling, etc.

3) work on essential life skills, like managing time and money, planning healthy meals, understanding consent, understanding safety and danger, applying for job positions, etc.

4) work with their facilitator to address any major challenges in their life, connect with other organizations, and develop a stronger sense of community in Yellowknife

'A week in the 4Y Program'

For this example, the participant will be named Sam, and their 4Y program leader will be named Alex.


4:00 - Sam meets with Alex at the library to do some financial literacy activities. 
5:00 - Alex accompanies Sam to an appointment at the bank with a personal banker to talk about saving money


12:00 - With Sam's consent, Alex meets with Sam’s aunt for coffee. She tells Alex that Sam has been staying out late 4-5 times a week and binge drinking alcohol, and she is worried. 


4:00 - Sam and Alex meet at the gym and spend one hour running, lifting weights, and stretching.


4:00 - Sam and Alex meet at the park for a picnic, and chat about drugs and alcohol. They also listen to some music, and plan for next week, when they are going to the animal shelter to visit the animals.


7:00 - Sam joins Alex and other 4Y Program participants at a community event. 

Meet The Team


Joe MacEachern - Justice Program Coordinator

Joe MacEachern joins the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT (FFCNWT) as our new 4Y Justice Program Coordinator. Joe is an experienced program manager with years of experience working within Indigenous communities. Joe’s work experience ranges from working in the Arctic with the federal nutritious food subsidy program (Nutrition North) as the country food (traditional wild food) coordinator to working as the Culture program coordinator at The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health; an award-winning and internationally recognized healthcare facility located in Ottawa, Ontario. Joe has also worked as the Non-Insured Health benefits Navigator at the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat (APC) and most recently he was the Indigneous Health Program Manager for the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  

Joe will be heading up the new 4Y Justice Program at the FFCNWT. This innovative program is aimed at supporting youth with suspected FASD to navigate the Justice system. The Program offers  one-on-one mentorship for youth who have had an interaction with the justice system as an offender. Additionally youth will be taught coping mechanisms / life skills giving them the tools for dealing with stress and difficult situations.


Zain Ali - 4Y Program Coordinator

"Bula! ("Wishing your life happiness and good health"-Fijian greeting) I'm Zain your primary contact for anything Camp Connections. I moved to Yellowknife in 2018 with my partner Lindsay, our two beautiful fur babies Mew and Saruman, and Lindsay's father Bernie. Some of my past experience includes working as an Educational Assistant for Range Lake North School, a Care Manager for Home Care Assistance Edmonton and a Jr. Archaeologist for the Bodo Archaeological Society. I have a diploma in Avionics Engineering Technology from NAIT and am working at completing my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology from MacEwan University.


I love to learn and I find humans and the human experience incredibly interesting. I often find myself discussing and pondering diverse ideologies on culture, philosophy, theology and psychology while I use the principals of peace, love, compassion and pacifism to guide my daily actions. Volunteering and community support is important to me and since moving up I have found a number of great causes to assist with including becoming the Executive Secretary and Director of Youth Engagement and Workshops for the NWT Creative Collective, the Executive Treasurer for the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife and am a Member of the GNWT Anti-Poverty Advisory Committee.

I look forward to the growth, challenges and relationships that will come with Camp Connections. I have a knack for working with young people and love being out on the land, so I could not think of a better place to further develop and hone my skills then with Camp Connections and the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT." -Zain

Program Supporters

-CanFASD Research Network
-NWT Adult and Youth FASD Diagnostic Clinic
-Duke of Edinburgh Award
-Breakaway Fitness
-psychologist Dr. Bryan Austin

-North Slave Young Offenders Unit

-Tree of Peace

-Hotiì Ts’eeda

-Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon

Programs and organizations accessed with support of 4Y

-Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation


-Native Women's Association

Program Sponsors


Children's Aid Foundation of Canada


Canada Post

Government of the Northwest Territories

Government of Canada