About Us

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) is a multi-service urban Aboriginal agency providing holistic, culture-based programs and services for Aboriginal children and families. NCFST strives to provide a life of quality, well-being, healing, and self-determination for children and families in the Toronto urban Aboriginal community. We do this by implementing a service model that is culture-based and respects the values of Aboriginal people, the extended family and the right to self-determination.

Established in 1986, by Elders, knowledge keepers, grassroots leaders, and community members, NCFST has been supporting Aboriginal children and families in Toronto for more than three decades. In 2004 NCFST was directed by the Aboriginal community to accept a child welfare mandate to decolonize Aboriginal child welfare in the City of Toronto. NCFST continues to do this work through the integration of holistic, culturally-based prevention services that are child centered, family focused, and community driven.

Guided by the vision of providing holistic, culture-based integrated services with the guidance of the Aboriginal community, NCFST offers a full range of prevention programs, treatment and healing services, early years programs, youth programs, and cultural and recreational programs to all members of Toronto’s urban Aboriginal community.

Mission Statement

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto strives to provide a life of quality, well-being, caring and healing for our children and families in the Toronto Native Community.

We do this by creating a service model that is culture-based and respects the values of Native people, the extended family and the right to self-determination.

Service Model

Founded in 1986, our service model was developed through four days of ceremony by Aboriginal Elders, knowledge keepers and community leaders. It directs us to develop a holistic and sustainable multi-service organization to support the quality of life of Aboriginal children and their families in Toronto.  The community that came together to create NCFST was responding to the impacts of residential schooling and a European model of child welfare on Aboriginal children and families.  Our service model directs us to develop and deliver integrated services for healing, wellness, and family supports sufficient to provide Aboriginal children and their families with multiple pathways to a quality life.  We do this by developing programs and services that are grounded in Aboriginal values, knowledge, best practice and worldview.

Our many services:

  • Children and youth mental health and case management including one-on-one counselling, group, and play therapy;
  • Prevention-focused Family Skills Building and Support programs, including our Family Resource Program and the Ninoshe and Zhishay programs;
  • The country’s largest Aboriginal Head Start program with four locations across the city;
  • Child and Family Wellbeing, including Kin Finding and permanency options for children;
  • A variety of Early Years, Early Childhood Development, and parenting group programs;
  • Childcare;
  • Transitional Housing for men;
  • Transitional Housing for women with young children;
  • Summer day and overnight on-the-land camps;
  • Physical Literacy program;
  • Pre and Post Natal Services;
  • Community events including Culture Nights, drum socials, feasts, and an annual Pow Wow;
  • Three Aboriginal Child and Family Centres that deliver a host of programming for children 0-6, their older siblings and their families; and
  • A Healing Lodge for women and their children while they are undergoing treatment for substance and/or mental health issues.

The community we serve.

Toronto is home to a diverse and growing Aboriginal community, currently estimated at a population of 60,000 adults and children. Of these, approximately 45,000 are status Indians; the others are Métis, non-status, and Inuit. NCFST serves self-identified Status, Non-Status, Inuit and Metis people in the Greater Toronto Area, including individuals and families from over 62 diverse First Nations in Ontario and across the country. We offer accessible services and programs to all community members from pre-birth to the Elderly, LGBTQ2S+ people and people of blended heritage. At NCFST we offer a single point of access to an integrated network of programs and services designed to address the multiple and complex issues facing Aboriginal families, including poverty, mental health issues, unemployment and homelessness in a culturally safe environment. Through this, we contribute to the healing, caring, and well-being of children and families and strive to further the development of a healthy, whole and empowered Aboriginal community, through integrated services grounded in cultural practices.

Senior Staff

RON HODGSONDirector of People and Culture

Ron Hodgson is a member of Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini Algonquin First Nation who’s traditional and present day community is within the area of North Hastings County. Being separated from his culture as a child, he continues to reclaim and grow his understanding of how to apply traditional teachings to the way he lives and works. Ron identifies as 2SLGTBQ+ and uses the pronouns he/him/his. He sits on the OACAS LGBT2SQ+ Committee and was instrumental in the development the 2SLGBTQ+ committee at his previous agency. Ron began his career in marketing after graduating from George Brown College before transitioning to human resources almost 15 years ago. He continued his professional learning by completing a post-graduate diploma in Labour Relations at Algonquin College along with facilitator certificates from DDI and Franklin Covey. He has held leadership roles at Casino Rama Resort, and most recently at Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child & Family Services as Human Resources Manager. Ron is passionate about his work and applying cultural teachings, knowledge and experiences to build relationships that support employee satisfaction. He has diverse experience working in the areas of talent management, employee/labour relations, training/development, employee engagement, employee wellness and ability management with the goal of building a culture of inclusion and continued improvement that will best support children, youth, families and Indigenous communities. Personally, Ron resides on his family’s hobby farm with his husband, grandmother and many animals. He is an active member of the community and enjoys time spent with friends and family.

VERONIKA BENCZEDirector of Finance and Adminstration

Veronika Bencze assumes a leadership role in the finance, payroll, facilities, administration, information technology area as a Director of Finance and Administration at NCFST. Veronika also supports the Board of Directors and the Finance Committee in partnership with the Executive Director. As a member of the Senior Leadership Circle, she ensures that the structure and business processes are efficient and aligned with the strategic plans and financial resources.  Her expertise has been acquired from the ground up moving from an individual contributor into a Director position with increasing seniority and authority. Veronika’s experience has been gained in postsecondary education settings, government agencies, charities, and not-for-profit organizations. She has proven leadership experience in financial reporting, budgeting, financial planning, and forecasting. During her career, she has built and led high performing teams, participated in the strategic planning process and risk assessment and has been actively involved in change management initiatives. Veronika is a strong advocate of lifelong learning as evidenced by her formal academic career including a Bachelor, a Master of Business Administration, a Ph.D. degree and a CPA designation. Veronika is Ivey Business School’s alumni. She taught strategic planning and strategic management along with other subjects in business administration at the University of Pecs in Hungary for six years before immigrating to Canada in 2002.  Veronika is a proud mother of four sons: Idrisz Richard, Gabriel, Joseph and Aleksandar. When not busy with her work, Veronika enjoys swimming and hiking with her family and their dogs.

MELISSA HAMONICDirector of Holistic Services

Melissa Hamonic (she/her) is Red River Métis and was born and raised in St.Malo, a small community in southern Manitoba, the heart of the Métis Homeland. Melissa is a proud member of the Métis Nation of Ontario and is an active member of the Toronto York Region Métis Community. 

Melissa holds a Master’s Degree in Studio Art from the University of Guelph and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from York University. She has been with NCFST for several years and has held positions as Mental Health Worker on the Mook’am Team, Clinical Supervisor, and Associate Director of Holistic Services. She was instrumental in the development and expansion of the Anti-Human Trafficking program and the Mdewgaan Healing Lodge. 

Melissa brings creativity and enthusiasm to her work and is passionate about strengthening kinship and supporting Indigenous wellness across sectors.