Help is coming to connect Aboriginal offenders with their Mi’kmaw culture and community.

Justice Minister Ross Landry announced this morning the federal government will contribute more than $300,000 for three years to the new program. Called “Bringing Culture Inside,” outreach workers and Mi’kmaw elders will go into the Nova Scotia Youth Facility in Waterville and work directly with Aboriginal offenders to explore their culture.

Paula Marshall, executive director of the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network, says their community struggles with cultural identity.

“The kids that we work with are trapped,” said Marshall. “We have the traditional teachings and ceremonies of our elders, and then we have the modern day Canadian society that young people are trying to fit into. Our kids are struggling to fit into both. They want to be able to be cool, like the rest of the kids, but yet respectful to our elders. We want to legitimize being able to practice their culture and be proud of who they are.”

“We’re trying to do things differently,” said Justice Minister Ross Landry. “Because we know trying to do the same thing and get a different result can drive you spinny. So it’s a matter of having some passion and commitment to this initiative and investing.”

The federal funding for the program comes from Justice Canada’s Youth Justice Fund for Guns, Gangs and Drugs.