Aboriginal Planning Working Group members assembled at the Metis of Ontario Healing and Wellness Centre in Bancroft on October 30th. The purpose of this unique gathering was for Metis, Mohawk and mainstream service providers to share information about the services they deliver to Aboriginal children 0-6 years and their families, identify existing partnerships, and determine what is needed to make services more seamless and integrated.
Participants were welcomed with a smudge, thanksgiving and drum song, generously delivered by Marsha Depotier from Metis Nation Victim Services. All agreed that information sharing about programs and services was helpful. The amount of community connections and outreach already in place between First Nations organizations and agencies such as Ontario Early Years Centres, Highland Shores Children’s Aid, Preschool Speech & Language, literacy programs and schools is significant.
In response to the question, What is needed by your program/agency to provide more seamless and integrated services for Aboriginal children and families? – those present identified the building of trust and relationships, greater awareness by mainstream providers around Aboriginal culture (to help break down barriers caused by colonization and other historical events), more networking opportunities and time.
The group will continue working together on implementation of the 2014/2015 Early Child Development Aboriginal Plan. There is also willingness among members to meet with our Kingston-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington counterparts to look at opportunities for cross-border collaboration. To address the challenges of geography, weather and time, our next meeting will be held via videoconference – a fortunate discovery is that both the Mohawk and Metis Wellness Centres are equipped with OTN !
If you are a CYSN member or community partner interested in joining the Aboriginal Planning Working Group, please do not hesitate to contact me. The date of our next meeting is to be determined by doodle poll.