OACAS supports and collaborates with Aboriginal, First Nation, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) communities in bettering the health, well-being and life chance of Aboriginal, FNMI children in Ontario. OACAS does so by offering programming to enhance the knowledge and understanding of child welfare staff of Aboriginal culture and history, as well as to Aboriginal youth in care. In addition we advocate and support restoration of jurisdiction of child welfare service to FN communities.
As an organization, OACAS continues to advocate to ensure agencies are able to support the needs of Aboriginal children and families they are serving. There is a strong emphasis on enhancing the knowledge and understanding of Ontario’s Aboriginal FNMI population for child welfare staff. OACAS is also working to support and facilitate reconciliation between Children’s Aid Societies and the First Nation communities they serve.
Recently, OACAS released The Other Side of the Door: A Practice Guide for Child Welfare Professionals in Working with First Nation, Inuit and Métis Peoples. The practice guide was developed by Kenn Richard, Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, last spring to strengthen understanding of the history of colonization within child welfare, the culture and strengths of FNMI families and communities, and prepare all child welfare professionals to fulfill the unique obligations under the Child and Family Services Act with respect to providing services to FNMI families. The intent is for all new staff, volunteers, and board members to read the guide within their first month of employment/volunteering. The Aboriginal practice guide was finalized this year as a result of extensive feedback from a range of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Children’s Aid Societies.
The Minwaashin Lodge — Aboriginal Women’s Support Centre in Ottawa is running a 12-week parenting circle for parents with children age 0-6. The program runs every Monday at 12:30-2 pm from January 11 to March 28, 2016. Topics include 13 moons teachings, addictions, attachment, HIV/AIDS awareness , FASE, options in child care, self-esteem, and parenting goals. Click to learn more about the program and to register.
The Centre also offers ongoing programming throughout the year as part of their Sacred Child Program, including drum circles, play groups, crafts, and ceremonies. Click to view the calendar of events for February 2016.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and Recommendations
On June 2, 2015, Justice Murray Sinclair released the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Summary Report. The report, which includes 94 recommendations, comes ahead of a final report that will be released later this year. The aim of the Commission and its report is to address the continuing legacy of the residential school system and “to guide and inspire a process of truth and healing leading towards reconciliation…”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings and recommendations are especially relevant to child welfare systems in Canada. The Commission directly relates the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in child welfare today to the “intractable legacies of residential schools.” Several pages of the summary report look at current provincial child welfare systems in some detail. In addition, the report’s first five “calls to action” are directed at the child welfare system. Read OACAS’ Statement on the Commission’s Summary Report.