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June 2021

Canada Day: A time for reflection

Today, on Canada Day, Canadians find themselves standing at a crossroads.  For the past 153 years, Canada Day provided a chance for Canadians to celebrate the remarkable country they call home and the people they share it with. Today, many Canadians are torn between celebration and reflection.

This spring, Canada woke to dead Indigenous children buried in their backyards and to the dawning realization that Canada committed a genocide. Within this horrific landscape, it’s easy to see a schism in the fabric of the national identity: on one hand, Indigenous people who have known about genocide for generations, and on the other side, Canadians who are being confronted with their role in this shameful legacy.

There’s a lot to confront.  How can it be that this country, with its national identity so firmly grounded in politeness that its largest city was once nicknamed “Toronto the Good” be complicit in genocide?  How can there be something as evil as genocide in a country so loved around the world that travelers sew Canadian flags onto their backpacks to be recognized for what we believe we are:  kind, inclusive, welcome, diverse, and above all “good”.  Canadians are good people.  Canadians are nice people who humble brag in memes about being polite, with family values front and centre, and leading the world in practices that support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

By and large, Canadians are all these things. And Canadians are also complicit in genocide. The Indian Act of 1876 was created by a new nation designed to assimilate the original inhabitants of the land. Canadians are now beginning the hard work of understanding why this Act was so wrong and why it has such detrimental consequences today.

Canadians have long tried to normalize or ignore the inequities found in Indigenous communities; this cannot continue. The genocide that Canada has committed has killed Indigenous children, annihilated identity, stolen land, reshaped our values and made our relations toxic. This has resulted in communities that continue to struggle to this day. Our ambitions as a people are more than just being resilient and alive, we want to thrive and have a life of quality that is not less than but equal to Canadians. Indigenous resilience can only be as strong as our weakest link. Sadly, the statistics do not tell a kind story here. Indigenous youth are killing themselves at rates much higher than other Canadian populations and Indigenous people fail to attain the longevity of life of the typical Canadian and are burdened with far more health inequities than should be just. The result is a humanitarian crisis occurring in plain sight. Genocide has long-lasting impacts and consequences. It cannot be addressed with “kind remarks and good wishes”.  True accountability and meaningful action remain elusive.  Concrete action has been replaced with denial, blame, racism, hate and so the injustice continues. The burden of truth-sharing now rests on the shoulders of dead children, speaking to Canadians from the grave. We hope Canadians are listening to the former students who are now our teachers in healing and reconciliation.

Canada is not a perfect dominion. For communities that have been marginalized, there is little to celebrate in the grand story of Canada. Canada, in its current form, benefited from the policies of the Indian Residential Schools and continues to benefit from contemporary policies that harm Indigenous peoples. From the Indigenous perspective, the Dominion of Canada is simply not living up to its ideals. Many Canadians say the way forward is not to stop aspiring to be a better people. Many Canadians will not celebrate Canada for what it has been in the past but will celebrate it for what they want it to be in the future. Many folks want to celebrate Canada while also acknowledging the atrocities committed. The absurdity of this juxtaposition is not lost but also somehow speaks to the complexities of the relationships and issues at hand. Canada’s independence was born from Indigenous dispossession of land and the promise of reciprocity and treaty-making; a sharing of the bounty with obligations established on both sides. Celebrating the birth of a Nation and its independence should be a source of pride. As Indigenous people, we know all too well that self-government and independence is vital to a Nation’s identity, prosperity, and well-being. There can be no pride in genocide but there can be dignity in doing the right thing. Canada Day is an opportunity for Canadians to get reacquainted with treaty making and for Canadians to better understand their obligations as treaty holders.

Canadians can choose to celebrate, and Indigenous people can grieve, and this can be done side-by-side. The Haudenosaunee people and early settlers created a road map for sharing the bounty of this land; a path to being two nations traveling side-by-side. This covenant was recorded in the Two Row Wampum which symbolizes two vessels: one boat is the canoe holding the Haudenosaunee way of life, laws, and people. The other is a European ship complete with their laws, religion, and people. These boats travel together on a shared river, respecting each other as different and distinct.

When we look across the great divide, we see folks who want to celebrate the good that Canada represents to them.  We recognize that Canada has become a place of safety for millions of people from every corner of the earth.  We recognize the contributions to science, to literature, to peacekeeping, and sports.  We see these things through the tears in our eyes and the pain in our hearts.  The promise of the Two Row Wampum and similar covenants and treaties is the promise of respect and self-determination.  It is the promise of the autonomy granted by nationhood.  Democracy at its best is aspirational.  The aspirations of Canada have come at the expense of its original inhabitants.  While the two boats travel separately, they do share the same river.  The waves of genocide rock each boat and both peoples suffer the effects.  For Indigenous people, the impacts are clear.  For Canadians, the effects are subtle but no less profound.  There can be no Reconciliation without Truth.

July 1st is an opportunity for Canadians to reflect; to discuss their role in genocide and to amplify Indigenous issues in privileged spaces that have historically been closed to Indigenous voices.  July 1st is also an opportunity to visit with family, to celebrate what is good in this young and troubled nation.  An Elder once said, “Creator gave us the gift of this good life, and it’s our choice to walk each day with joy and gratitude”.  Celebrate what is joyous to you, acknowledge what you feel gratitude for. Pause. Reflect.

Canada Day will look different this year. People will wear orange.  Some will protest.  Others will host family gatherings or attend fireworks celebrations.  We are, after all, a fractured nation and people are finding their way through this unknown landscape.  On July 2, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto will be hosting a Sacred Fire for Community Healing and Wellness at our 30 College location.  The fire is an opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to gather in sacred space and remember the atrocities that have been committed, honor and remember the children who died, and the families and communities who have been devastated.  It is an opportunity to get grounded in the treaties and covenants of this bountiful land that we share. The effects of genocide echo through time and are still felt today. There can be no Reconciliation without Truth.

“Together we will travel in Friendship and in Peace Forever; as long as the grass is green, as long as the water runs downhill, as long as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and as long as our Mother Earth will last.”

2020-2021 NCFST Annual Report

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto is pleased to release our 2020-2021 Annual Report. We would like to express our deep gratitude to our partners, funders, and community members for supporting us through this past year of uncertainty, growth, and development. Please read the detailed report for the progress our agency has made during such a challenging year.

In addition to our Annual Report, we have also released our Audited Financial Statements for 2020-2021.

This year’s Annual Report and Financial Statements, as well as previous Annual Reports and Financial Statements, are also available on our Policies and Publications page.

Mount Dennis and Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centres

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto recently opened the Mount Dennis Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre and the Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre.  These multi-service centres will have several services including an EarlyON and Aboriginal Head Start programs and will provide children, parents and caregivers access to culturally responsive programs and services in an inclusive and welcoming space that supports their well-being, enriches their cultural knowledge, and provides opportunities to strengthen relationships. Along with early years programming, the centre will also provide supports for community members across all ages, including youth programming and Elder/Senior wellness programs.

Some of the programs and services that will be offered are drop-in and group programs, sharing circles, access to Knowledge Keepers and Elders on-site and ongoing parent and education supports, pre and post-natal programs in partnership with the Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto, Mommy Matters and Parenting Together Programs. One permanent Zhishay (uncle) to support fathers, and one Ninoshe (auntie) to support mothers. Regular ceremonies will be offered with cultural teachings, language and/or community events including weekly family cultural nights and seasonal feasts and drum socials. The outdoor features a play and ceremonial space that includes a medicinal garden a fire pit and a sweat lodge.

Children aged 0 to 6 will have access to play-based learning in a culture of inquiry and experience positive developmental, spiritual, and physical health and well-being. Aboriginal families and caregivers will be able to strengthen their relationships with their children with the help of services and tools provided by the centre including on the land programming. As a community, at this centre, we will have a chance to build positive relationships with local service providers, including other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal agencies to ensure that collaborative and integrated services are available to Aboriginal children and families that meet their unique needs.

We are beyond grateful to the following funders and friends for their support in creating these multi-service centres. We could not have done it without you all!

Mt. Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre – Virtual Grand Opening

Today on National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, 2021, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) is both excited and honoured to announce the opening of Mount Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, located at 1290 Weston Road in York. This new multi-service centre will have several services including an EarlyON and the Kiiwednong Aboriginal Head Start program that will provide children, parents and caregivers access to culturally responsive programs and services in an inclusive and welcoming space that supports their well-being, enriches their cultural knowledge, and provides opportunities to strengthen relationships. Along with early years programming, the centre will provide supports for community members across all ages, including youth programming and Elder/Senior wellness programs.

This virtual grand opening will include a walk-through of the new site, video statements from Faisal Hassan, MPP for York South-Weston and Katharine Bambrick, the CEO of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, as well as live speeches from Mayor John Tory, Dr. Jeffrey Schiffer, Executive Director of Native Child and Family Service of Toronto, and a traditional opening with a Community Grandmother.

The Centre will provide integrated services for Aboriginal children, families and caregivers that are culture-based and designed to engage parents and caregivers, support early learning and development, make connections for families, and meet the unique needs of Toronto’s Aboriginal community.

“We are envisioning these hubs as intergenerational spaces so we can see young kids engaging and interacting with their parents, but then also coming back for a culture night or a community ceremony with their grandparents, older siblings, and their friends, and I think having all of those generations interacting in one place is going to be very supportive for the community.” ~ Dr. Jeffrey Schiffer

Some of the programs and services that will be offered are drop-in and group programs, sharing circles, access to Knowledge Keepers and Elders on-site and ongoing parent and education supports, pre and post-natal programs in partnership with the Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto, Mommy Matters and Parenting Together Programs. One permanent Zhishay (uncle) to support fathers, and one Ninoshe (auntie) to support mothers. Regular ceremonies will be offered with cultural teachings, language and/or community events including weekly family cultural nights and seasonal feasts and drum socials. The outdoor features a play and ceremonial space that includes a medicinal garden a fire pit and a sweat lodge.

Children aged 0 to 6 will have access to play-based learning in a culture of inquiry and experience positive developmental, spiritual, and physical health and well-being. Aboriginal families and caregivers will be able to strengthen their relationships with their children with the help of services and tools provided by the centre including on the land programming. As a community, at this centre, we will have a chance to build positive relationships with local service providers, including other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal agencies to ensure that collaborative and integrated services are available to Aboriginal children and families that meet their unique needs.

A very special Chi Miigwetch to our generous funders. Indigenous Services Canada, City of Toronto Children’s Services, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Aboriginal community councils for their collective support. This multi-service centre will provide access to health and wellness for the community in the city of Toronto for years to come.

We are beyond grateful to the following funders and friends for their support in creating these multi-service centres. We could not have done it without you all!

NCFST Celebrates National Indigenous People’s Day

Today, on June 21, we celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day. This is a day where we acknowledge, honour, and participate in the rich and vibrant cultures of the First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities on Turtle Island. It is important that we celebrate this day because Canada has not always celebrated and respected Indigenous peoples, culture, and ceremonial practices. This year, celebrations will look different for two very important reasons. The first reason is that the typical ceremonies, Pow Wows and large community gatherings have been suspended in respect of local public health guidelines and community concern for health and safety. At Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, we are celebrating the Grand Opening of the new Mount Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre. We encourage folks to check out the virtual launch on our website. The other, more somber reason why our collective celebration is different this year has to do with the horrifying discovery last month of the remains of 215 Indigenous children near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the lands of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia.

The spring of 2021 will be forever remembered when Canada woke to the discovery of dead Indigenous children buried in their backyard and to the realization that Canada committed genocide. This visceral and naked moment has prompted many Canadian folks to reflect, educate and seek direction from Indigenous communities. For this we are encouraged. For Indigenous people, it is a reminder that our healing journey is ongoing, and feelings of anguish and anger permeate our consciousness. For this we are loving. For nine days beginning on June 1st 2021, NCFST sites across the GTA hosted Sacred Fires in honour of the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School to acknowledge the painful legacy of the Indian Residential School system. We recognize that more remains have been found and stand ready to support community as we continue our collective journey towards Healing & Reconciliation.

As we stand in the aftermath of the Canadian awakening some hard realities remain. Indigenous children and families continue to suffer due to the heavy burdens of a genocide that echoes through time. Many Canadians have tried to normalize or ignore inequities found in Indigenous communities; we know this cannot continue. We ask folks to visit the Indigenous Spirit Fund at www.indigenousspiritfund.org to learn more about reconciliation and how folks can support decolonization through philanthropy. Native Child and Family Services of Toronto was founded by the urban Aboriginal community of Toronto to address the aftermath of Indian Residential Schools and the over-representation of Indigenous children and families in mainstream child welfare. As an organization, we continue to remake inherited colonial structures and processes in ways that acknowledge, respect and include Indigenous worldview, knowledge systems, values, and approaches.

At NCFST, we believe that inter-generational Indigenous knowledge and practice play a crucial role in the well-being and health of all Indigenous people. Creating opportunities for collective experience and sharing our cultural gifts is how we keep our community strong and children thriving and safe.

PRESS RELEASE: NCFST’s Grand Opening of the Mount Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre

Toronto, Ont., June 18, 2021 – On National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, 2021, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) is both excited and honoured to announce the opening of Mount Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, located at 1290 Weston Road in York. This new multi-service centre will have several services including an EarlyON and the Kiiwednong Aboriginal Head Start program that will provide children, parents and caregivers access to culturally responsive programs and services in an inclusive and welcoming space that supports their well-being, enriches their cultural knowledge, and provides opportunities to strengthen relationships. Along with early years programming, the centre will provide supports for community members across all ages, including youth programming and Elder/Senior wellness programs.

This virtual grand opening will include a walk-through of the new site, video statements from Faisal Hassan, MPP for York South-Weston and Katharine Bambrick, the CEO of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, as well as live speeches from Mayor John Tory, Dr. Jeffrey Schiffer, Executive Director of Native Child and Family Service of Toronto, and a traditional opening with a Community Grandmother.

The Centre will provide integrated services for Aboriginal children, families and caregivers that are culture-based and designed to engage parents and caregivers, support early learning and development, make connections for families, and meet the unique needs of Toronto’s Aboriginal community.

“We are envisioning these hubs as intergenerational spaces so we can see young kids engaging and interacting with their parents, but then also coming back for a culture night or a community ceremony with their grandparents, older siblings, and their friends, and I think having all of those generations interacting in one place is going to be very supportive for the community.” ~ Dr. Jeffrey Schiffer

Some of the programs and services that will be offered are drop-in and group programs, sharing circles, access to Knowledge Keepers and Elders on-site and ongoing parent and education supports, pre and post-natal programs in partnership with the Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto, Mommy Matters and Parenting Together Programs. One permanent Zhishay (uncle) to support fathers, and one Ninoshe (auntie) to support mothers. Regular ceremonies will be offered with cultural teachings, language and/or community events including weekly family cultural nights and seasonal feasts and drum socials. The outdoor features a play and ceremonial space that includes a medicinal garden a fire pit and a sweat lodge.
In 2019, the Native Child and Family Centre of Toronto received a $150,000 Capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to create a healing garden at the new Centre. OTF is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. It was awarded $115 million to 644 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.

“As the MPP for York South-Weston, I can’t emphasis strongly enough how grateful I am to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the grant that helps establish the Mount Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre’s healing garden,” said Faisal Hassan, MPP. “Much good work has been done and now we will benefit as a community from the Mount Dennis Centre. I recognize and welcome initiatives that will help Indigenous families and children find a safe space of health and wellness in an urban setting. Thanks to the incredible staff and team at the Mount Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre that will do the important work that will enrich the lives of Indigenous youth through arts, culture and heritage.” ~ MPP Faisal Hassan, York South-Weston

Children aged 0 to 6 will have access to play-based learning in a culture of inquiry and experience positive developmental, spiritual, and physical health and well-being. Aboriginal families and caregivers will be able to strengthen their relationships with their children with the help of services and tools provided by the centre including on the land programming. As a community, at this centre, we will have a chance to build positive relationships with local service providers, including other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal agencies to ensure that collaborative and integrated services are available to Aboriginal children and families that meet their unique needs.

A very special Chi Miigwetch to our generous funders. Indigenous Services Canada, City of Toronto Children’s Services, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Aboriginal community councils for their collective support. This multi-service centre will provide access to health and wellness for the community in the city of Toronto for years to come.

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto also operates an EarlyON at Yonge and College, the Scarborough Child and Family Life Centre near Kingston and Galloway, Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, and a mobile Aboriginal fathering program, alongside many other programs and services. As EarlyON Centres are currently under a provincial closure order due to COVID-19, NCFST will continue to offer virtual and remote services from these new locations and continue to offer land-based programming in City of Toronto parks until they are permitted to open.

To register for this event please visit: https://kastio.com/ncfstmtdennis

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For more information contact:
Freida Gladue, Manager of Communications and Culture
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto
437-244-2816 [email protected]

Virtual & Day Camp Registration is open for youth 6-16 years of age.

The deadline to apply for both camps is JUNE 15, 2021

VIRTUAL CAMP (6-16 years)

Virtual Camp will be offered to 3 age groups: 6-9, 10-12, and 13-16

DAY CAMP (6-12 years)

Day camp programs will be offered on the land in alignment with the Government of Ontario, Toronto Public Health, and Ontario Camps Association safety provisions. A guide will be provided to families in their welcome package with further details.

Campers will be placed within small groups between the age of 6-12.

We will offer a SCARBOROUGH (Joseph Brant PS*) and DOWNTOWN (Queen Alexandra*) location.

*Permits are pending for both locations.

APPLICATION PROCESS (BOTH CAMPS)

  • Campers are only to apply for one opportunity VIRTUAL OR DAY CAMP (as they run at the same time).
  • Applications must be completed by Camper’s Legal Parent/Guardian.  For children who are in the care of NCFST, this means the NCFST Worker must complete the application/consent for the child (not the Resource Home).
  • An application must be completed for each Camper. The deadline to apply for both camps is JUNE 15, 2021
  • Applications submitted may not be all accepted due to numbers, selection criteria. Parent/Guardian/Resource will be notified of application status via email by June 18.

Submit a camper application for VIRTUAL CAMP (ages 6-16)

Submit a camper application for DAY CAMP (ages 6-12)

For more info email: [email protected]

GRUNDY LAKE OVERNIGHT CAMP (FAMILY CAMPS)

We are still in the process with solidifying our plans for Grundy Lake Overnight Camp, which due to COVID19 we hope to offer as a Family Camp this year.  By offering small, family-cohort camps, we can ensure camper safety and compliance to all Ministry directives.

We will be asking that families submit an expression of interest (starting June 15) for this year’s very limited-space Family Camp (should we be able to offer).  The link will be posted June 15th for families to add their name to the list.  Stay tuned!

You’re Invited to attend a Virtual Grand Opening of the new Mount Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto is excited to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day with a Virtual Grand Opening of the new Mount Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre. This intergenerational and multi-service centre will include an Aboriginal Head Start and an EarlyON that will provide children and families with a place of health and wellness in the city of Toronto for years to come.

We are delighted to invite you to attend this virtual event on Monday, June 21st at 10 AM where you will learn more about the culture-based programs and services developed to support Aboriginal children and their families. Please join us and meet the dedicated staff, experience a virtual walk-through of the new site, and celebrate with our staff and community. 

We would be honoured to have you as our guest. 

REGISTER HERE

*Alternatively, you can copy and paste this link: https://kastio.com/ncfstmtdennis into Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Safari to register* 

May 2021

NCFST Statement on the 215 Indigenous Children found buried at an Indian Residential School in Kamloops BC.

It is with tremendous grief that Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) expresses our deepest condolences and prayers to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community and all the West Coast Nations for the 215 Indigenous children found buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

For the 215 kids, 430 parents, 860 grandparents, and for the innumerable aunties, uncles, cousins, friends, and relatives NCFST) stands in unity with all our relations during this time of immense loss and healing. Children are the root of our culture; they are our sacred bundles and gifts from Creator. As we walk in solidarity with the community, we recognize the tremendous weight of these losses and the importance of creating space for folks to come together to grieve, heal, and honour the lives of those who have moved onto the Spirit World. NCFST will be providing sacred fires and other ceremonies and supports at several of our locations that span the North, South, East, and West locations of the City over the next nine days to ensure staff and community can safely offer tobacco and prayers.

The discovery of the mass grave is a reminder of the genocide perpetuated by Indian Residential Schools and has triggered deep emotional responses across Turtle Island. The intergenerational trauma caused by the Residential Schools, with the stated policy to “Kill the Indian to save the Child”, is a stark reminder that more action is needed to fully address current and past injustices committed against Indigenous peoples, communities, and nations.

Now is the time to act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. Now is the time for accountability and concrete action to achieve true reconciliation and devolution of services to Indigenous organizations and communities. Moreover, the TRC made six recommendations regarding missing children and burial grounds, including a call for the federal government to work with churches, Indigenous communities, and former residential school students “to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including, where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children. NCFST supports these calls to action including searching the grounds at other former residential schools to continue the journey of truth and reconciliation and support the healing journey that many families will need.

NCFST was founded by the urban Aboriginal community of Toronto to address the aftermath of Indian Residential Schools and mainstream child welfare. Over more than three decades we have grown into Canada’s largest multi-service urban Aboriginal agency providing holistic, culture-based programs and services and child protection for Aboriginal children and families. An Elder once asked, if it takes three days to walk into the bush, how many days will it take to walk back out again? The answer, of course, is three days. Canada’s colonial legacy runs deep, and we know it will take many years to address it. We must walk together at a brisk pace not only for all the children we have lost walking into the bush, but for all of those who have and will be born as we walk out again.

With our deepest respect and love.

All my relations

If you need support call 1-866-925-4419

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience.

Let the children play! Getting children and youth outdoors now for an active recovery.

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, SickKids and researchers from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto are sending a call to action to prioritize children’s health and development during the COVID-19 pandemic

As Ontario strives to rebuild and recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, action is needed now to prioritize our children’s optimal health and development. By applying Indigenous tools and approaches to well-being through access to the outdoors and physical activity, we can help to reduce the consequences of the pandemic and shape the future trajectories for a generation at risk. This call to action was created in partnership between Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST), The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and researchers from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto.

Read More Here: https://www.sickkids.ca/en/news/archive/2021/let-children-play/

#paediatrics #pediatrics #childhealth #childrensmentalhealth #NCFST #IndigenousCommunity #MentalHealthSupport

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