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November 2021

You’re Invited: Decolonizing Child Welfare Webinar Learning Series – December 13th

Webinar #2 of our Learning Series focuses on the most important decisions made in child welfare arising from the Intake and Assessment process.

Please join us to explore how Child and Family Wellbeing teams respond to concerns about the safety of children and how we connect families and children to early interventions, holistic healing, and prevention services that lessen the need for intrusive child welfare interventions and keep children safe. Attend the discussion to hear how we ensure that families stay together and are safely supported with culture and community.

Register in advance for this webinar: https://nativechild.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_OQg8qc6yQFmLK43X9tWXZA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Select here to view previous webinars

 

October 2021

Decolonizing Child Welfare Webinar Learning Series – Recording

Thank you to everyone who joined us on October 29th in the first of our Decolonizing Child Welfare Webinar Learning Series.

In this webinar we discussed the history of NCFST in relation to its provincial child welfare mandate, provided an overview of the core interventions and services that are offered from referral to case closure and we told the story of our efforts to provide prevention and early intervention to mitigate the harms caused by colonial child welfare services.

Miigwetch to our host and panelists:

  • Terri Jaffe, Senior Supervisor, Aboriginal Cultural Program Liaison;
  • Vivian Roy, Knowledge Keeper;
  • Kenn Richard, Founder and Director of Special Projects;
  • Jeffrey Schiffer, Executive Director;
  • Mark Atanasoff, Director of Quality Assurance and Decolonization.

Webinars in this learning series will be recorded and posted as the series evolves to be available to the community and the families we serve.

Below is the recorded webinar available for viewing.

Decolonizing Child Welfare Webinar Learning Series – Oct 29 @ 2 PM

Please join us as we launch the first Child Welfare Webinar Learning Series.

This launch will consist of an overview of the child welfare system and the role of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. We will look at the child welfare systems in the historical injustices against Indigenous children and families and the impact of the resulting intergenerational trauma.

The Webinar will explain the history of NCFST in relation to its provincial child welfare mandate, provide an overview of the core interventions and services that are offered from referral to case closure and tell the story of our efforts to provide prevention and early intervention to mitigate the harms caused by colonial child welfare services.

Webinars in this Learning Series will be recorded and posted on the NCFST website as the series evolves to be available to the community and the families we serve.

Register here: https://nativechild.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_bX7M3X_pQVy_xQsu0vvLqA

September 2021

Decolonizing Child Welfare Webinar Panel September 30, 2021

Thank you to the 1246 individuals who joined us today in our discussion on what Indigenous child welfare could look like in five years. Today, we announced our commitment to open a new chapter in our ongoing work and vision of transforming child welfare.

Read the full announcement here.

Miigwetch to our host Bob Goulais and the panelists:

  • Jocelyn Formsma, Executive Director, National Association of Friendship Centres;
  • Irwin Elman, Former Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth;
  • Pat Green, Traditional Knowledge Keeper;
  • Micheal Miller, Executive Director, Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies of Ontario
  • Jeffrey Schiffer, Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto

For those not in attendance on Sept 30th, the recorded webinar is now available to watch. 

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NCFST announces commitment to launch the next phase in its on-going work to decolonize child welfare services in the city of Toronto

Every Child Matters

Following Call to Action #80 of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, on September 30th 2021, Canadians are observing the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to honour residential school survivors, their families, and communities, and to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.

The discovery of thousands of unmarked graves on the sites of Canada’s residential schools has resulted in a belated Canadian public awakening to the genocide of the residential school system and recognition of the deep trauma and impact of the residential school system on Indigenous children and families.

The harmful impact of residential schools has been exacerbated by the Sixties Scoop and the continuing overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care, with many separated from their families, extended family, and community. Responding to this continuing reality, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission dedicated the first 5 of its 94 Calls to Action to the reform and redesign of child welfare services delivered to Indigenous families and communities. Declarations from current and former authorities have reiterated the need for transformation:

  • Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott called the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in government care a “humanitarian crisis.”
  • Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues Jill Dunlop stated that Children and youth in care experience significantly worse outcomes than those in a family setting, such as lower graduation rates, a higher risk of homelessness and more involvement with the justice system.
  • Chairman of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission Murray Sinclair said there are more children in Canada’s child-welfare system today than there were at the height of residential schools.

NCFST History and Role in the Child Welfare System

On September 30th, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto will be honouring the lives lost and survivors of the residential schools and their families with a day of ceremony and reflection on our journey to decolonize child welfare services for urban Indigenous children, families and communities. We will reflect on the road we have traveled so far, and the road still to be traveled ahead. In 1986 NCFST was established by Elders, Knowledge Keepers, grassroots leaders and community members, and in 2004 NCFST accepted a provincial mandate to deliver child welfare services as a major step in the quest to decolonize child welfare in the city of Toronto. By accepting this mandate, NCFST and the Indigenous community understood that we were taking a strategic step in the journey to decolonization. While being subject to mainstream standards for child welfare services, NCFST has pushed the envelope in evolving strong, culturally grounded Indigenous child and family well-being services. Having now provided service to a generation of Indigenous children in the country’s largest urban setting, NCFST has become an expert in innovation to mitigate the continuing harm of colonial child welfare policies. This has been accomplished by focusing on evolving the integration of holistic, prevention-focused child and family well-being services in collaboration with Indigenous communities and service providers in Toronto.

NCFST Announcement

Today, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto launches the next step in our journey to redesign child welfare services. Following Calls to Action number #2 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions 94 Calls to Action, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto is making the following commitment:

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto commits to prepare and deliver, beginning on September 30th, 2022, an annual report on the progress of our efforts to redesign child welfare services. This report will include, in accordance with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the number of Aboriginal children in care in the city of Toronto compared to the number of non-aboriginal children, the reasons for apprehension, the total spending on holistic and prevention services compared to spending on child welfare investigation, ongoing services and alternative care, and a report on the effectiveness of interventions to reduce the number of children in care and keep Indigenous children with their extended families and communities when child welfare interventions are unavoidable.

To meet these commitments, we are today announcing that, beginning this October, we will be inviting representatives of Indigenous people in Toronto who have worked with us either as service partners or as recipients of our services to join a Community Advisory Circle to help us examine our practices and identify priorities for child welfare redesign. We will turn to the advice and guidance of those with wisdom and lived experience to help us succeed in our redesign of Indigenous child welfare services in the city of Toronto.

In addition, beginning in October, we will also be launching a bi-monthly Decolonizing Child Welfare Learning Series for community and partners devoted to explaining and examining the Child and Family Wellbeing services that the agency provides to Toronto’s Indigenous community. The Learning Series will begin with an overview of the current state of Indigenous child welfare services in Toronto, including a review of the challenges and opportunities for redesign in the context of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the enactment of Bill C-92 and the Child Welfare Redesign initiatives in the province of Ontario. Development of the Learning Series modules will require Native Child and Family Services of Toronto to undergo a critical examination of our child and family wellbeing services, including standards, service eligibility criteria, assessment tools and current practices. The purpose of this critical examination will be to identify priorities for redesign to reduce the number of Indigenous children in care and ensure that all Indigenous children in care are placed with extended family or, at minimum, in their communities with strong connections to their families.

We are making these commitments today, this first Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to honour those children who never made it home, the survivors of Canada’s residential schools and their families. We acknowledge the Truth that Indigenous children continue to be overrepresented in child welfare systems and continue to suffer separation from their families, communities and culture. Native Child and Family Services of Toronto has now served a generation of Indigenous children in the City of Toronto and continues to mitigate the harms of colonial child welfare services by evolving strong, culturally grounded, Indigenous Child and Family Well Being services that keep children connected to family, community and culture. But there is more to do. Every September 30th we will gather with community and report back on our progress in our journey to decolonize child welfare services and to do our part to ensure that the tragedy and trauma of the Indian Residential School System and the Sixties Scoop will never happen again.

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.

Select here to view the recorded announcement

For Media Inquiries contact:
Freida Gladue
Manager of Communications and Culture
437-244-2816
[email protected]
 

Decolonizing Child Welfare Webinar Panel – Sept 30th, 2021 @ 9:00 AM

We invite you to join us on Thursday, September 30th, 2021 for Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Native Child and Family Services of Toronto will mark the day with an event to announce important new commitments dedicated to our continuing journey to decolonize Indigenous child welfare services in the city of Toronto. Our host and moderator, Bob Goulais will welcome a panel of community leaders who will be speaking on the challenges and opportunities for transforming child welfare services following the first five Calls to Action of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  What might Indigenous child welfare services look like five years from now?

Register here: https://nativechild.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XBskgKNFS3SdPk1Xv2IxPQ

June 2021

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!

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