(Toronto, Ont., February 11, 2021) – The Indigenous Spirit Fund (ISF), which launched virtually on February 11, 2021, is changing the narrative of Reconciliation through philanthropy by Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST). This new fund will deliver long-overdue financial support for Indigenous youth and children, proving that successful decolonization can happen through philanthropy.
ISF is led by Indigenous people with expertise in child and family welfare, Indigenous cultures, and governance. Andrew Wesley, Cree Elder, explains that the fund’s vision is to create, “a world where all Indigenous children, youth and their families experience purpose, peace, joy, and love.”
ISF will create opportunities for Canada’s private, philanthropic, and charitable sectors to build new relationships with Indigenous families, and the organizations that serve them, in order to create healthy outcomes for Indigenous children and youth. It will help deliver much-needed support to some of Toronto’s most vulnerable children and families through community-driven and culture-based services, including summer culture camps, employment and education programs, and arts and entrepreneurship programs.
“The Indigenous Spirit fund, at its highest level, is here to give the philanthropic community an opportunity to actively participate in reconciliation,” said Kenn Richard, ISF Director. “All funding goes directly to Indigenous children and their families who need supports, sometimes, just to survive.”
In the spirit of reconciliation, the charitable and philanthropic sector can create a difference today by investing in the Indigenous Spirit Fund to help give youth a chance to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Today, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) announced it has opened the Mino Bimaadiziwin (pronounced Me-NO b-MAAZ-da-win and meaning Living the Good Life) Healing and Prevention Centre, a new permanent space in Toronto which will provide the Indigenous community with a sense of space, privacy, ownership, and belonging – all integral components to the prevention and healing work conducted by NCFST.
While the new site will bring together programs that have been running successfully at NCFST for decades, it will also offer new services such as the Tikinagan Mobile Pre and Post-Natal program. The Tikinagan team provides intensive wrap-around health and social services and works cohesively with child welfare to decolonize child welfare practices for pregnant and postpartum families, ultimately creating a healthy start for Aboriginal infants.
The activities and programs delivered at Mino Bimaadiziwin Healing and Prevention Centre include:
Group therapy for children exposed to domestic violence;
Sharing circles to assist with positive Indigenous identity development and self-care;
Case management for children and youth and referrals to other needed services offered at other NCFST locations or by other organizations;
Family support programs including family therapy, family violence and addiction services, parenting skills-building programs, and life skills building;
A new initiative for youth in need of preventative services for issues related to sex trafficking;
Maternal mental health counselling, intensive pre- and post-natal case management and housing services, doula services, infant mental health education and support and a new initiative to provide care being developed by an Indigenous midwife.
Chi Miigwetch to Knowledge Keeper, Alita Sauve who opened today’s event with prayer, Executive Director, Jeffrey Schiffer for the introduction; Manager of Clinical Services, Charlene Avalos, and Manager of Pre/Post Natal, Cathy Punnett for speaking about what integrated services are offered at this new centre. Chi Miigwetch to community members for sharing their inspiring stories and the NCFST hand drummers for grounding our new center in song.
Finally we would also like to thank The Honourable Marc Miller, MPP for Toronto Centre, Suze Morrison and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, Pam Damoff – for your kind words, support, and for attending the opening of the centre.
If you were unable to attend the event you can view the Virtual Grand Opening here.
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) is the largest multi-service urban Aboriginal agency with a child welfare mandate in Canada. Our circle includes more than 300 staff working across 18 locations who deliver more than 100 programs and services to 7,000 unique individuals annually. The agency was developed by the community for the community to address the intergenerational legacy of residential schooling and mainstream child welfare. NCFST works with all levels of government to decolonize services and promote health, wellness, and prosperity for Aboriginal children, youth, and families across the City of Toronto.
It is a particularly interesting time to join the circle at NCFST. Aboriginal peoples represent the youngest, fastest-growing, and most diverse population in Canada. Ontario’s process of child welfare modernization, the federal transformation of Aboriginal child welfare through Bill C-92, and the push by all governments and major institutions to address systemic racism create a dynamic context for the growth and innovation ahead.
We are currently seeking individuals from Aboriginal, Afro-Indigenous, and Black communities in Toronto to sit on our Board of Directors. This is a special call for members to join mid-year. New members are expected to serve until our AGM in June 2021 and for at least one additional board year (until June 2022). Board members are required to attend 10 monthly board meetings (the board does not meet in July or August), and to also join and participate in one of our board committees. Board members may be required to contribute to strategic planning and related governance activities. Executive Committee members are expected to meet more often.
For individuals who are invested in the well-being of Aboriginal children in Toronto, this is an opportunity to get involved in a dynamic and multifaceted organization that has accepted a sacred responsibility for the next generation.
For current board vacancies we are particularly interested in candidates with one or more of the below qualifications or lived experiences:
5 years or more experience serving on non-profit boards;
Indigenous AND Black ancestry/lived experience (as this diversity is not currently represented on our board);
Demonstrated history of success with philanthropy and securing private donations;
Prospective candidates must either live and/or work in the City of Toronto. Qualified individuals are invited to submit a letter of interest along with a current resume to [email protected]. We will be accepting nominations until positions are filled. We thank you for your interest, however, only those applicants selected for an interview will be contacted.
Jeffrey Schiffer, PhD
Race-Based Data Collection: Analyses and Reporting in the Toronto Police Service
WHAT: Voice your thoughts about racism in policing. Share your stories and receive a generous honorarium and medicines.
WHY: Representatives of the TPS will be present to share their plans to collect, protect and use race-based data to address systemic racism. Your feedback will help police comply with Ontario’s Anti-Racism Act in a good way.
HOW: These sessions will be co-facilitated by an Elder, a Clinical Worker, and a Quality Assurance and Decolonization analyst via Zoom. Participation is limited to a maximum of eight participants per session.
While we may not be able to drum and dance together this year, we can still feast! Visit us at 30 College, SCFLC, the NYRC, or the Malvern Hub to pick up an NDN Taco Take Away kit, and awesome swag like orange masks (just in time for Orange Shirt Day), white buffalo sage, and cold & flu tea.
12pm FACEBOOK LIVE – our virtual Grand Entry! Tune in to listen to Big Train open the day with an honor song, and a Community Message from Dr. Jeffrey Schiffer
For details about what’s happening at each site (or to volunteer!) please connect with:
NCFST has been operating as a family support agency in Toronto for over 30 years. With recent events in mind, we would like to know more about the community’s experience with the Toronto Police. This survey is only the first step in a multi-step planned community consultation process and will help us shape the rest of our strategy to obtain even more feedback from you.
First, please help us understand what is happening for you in the communities we serve. Please take our brief survey, it should take no more than 3 minutes: