Wheels are in motion to create a new child welfare agency that will be run by a group of seven First Nation communities.
The agency would serve seven communities in the Sudbury, Nipissing and Parry Sound areas. It would replace the current Children’s Aid Society.
“It’s really important to ensure that culture be a foundation of all the work that we do moving forward,” Brenda Restoule, a psychologist with Nipissing First Nation Health Services said.
“This agency will help create a better circle of care, where we have people in our communities who understand culturally significant practices.”
Restoule says the focus is on culture and how it is the foundation for family and community wellness.
“Instead of just taking children and removing them and telling parents that they have to address their needs,” she explained.
“That we are working with families and helping families to find wellness and being able to keep their children with them as opposed to taking them away and then telling them to take care of themselves.”
This week, talks were held in Sudbury about the next stage of creating the child welfare agency. Restoule says the next step will be community engagement.
She says the agency would still be funded by the province.
“I’m hopeful that this is the start of a systems change where eventually the ministry recognizes and sees that Indigenous child welfare agencies are having greater successes,” she said.
“If we have families who are well, who are taking care of each other and we have communities that are celebrating the gifts and strengths of everybody in their community, I think we have found some successes.”
The agency would replace the current Children’s Aid Society for band members of the Wasauksing, Shawanaga, Magnetawan, Henvey Inlet, Dokis, Nipissing and Wahnapitae First Nations.