In the case of service standards and models, Tikinagan Child and Family Services traces theirs back to the tradition of the Indigenous community to keep children and families together through culture. And now they’ve brought this service model to Thunder Bay.
Founded by chiefs and elders, Tikinagan serves the 30 First Nations in Northwestern Ontario and Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin is their service model.
“Our service model promotes the delivery of services at the community level by community-based workers,” says Thelma Morris, the Executive Director of Tikinagan.
Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin is the vision of chiefs and communities that Tikinagan uses for child wellbeing, making sure every child and family is taken care of with the utmost respect through their traditional values.
By staying connected to the land and heritage, Tikinagan fosters the growth of a child through a culturally appropriate response that halts any family, cultural, or community separation.
“When a child comes into care, it is important for each child to be part of a network of caring people,” Morris says.
The security and proper growth of a child through Tikinagan relies on Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin in the development of a child’s wellbeing that stays true to the vision of the chief’s and elders, centering on the child’s community.
It promotes the delivery of child rearing services at a community level that includes Indigenous members to be supervisors, managers and frontline workers within Tikinagan, creating resources that are culturally responsive and supportive of traditional values and customs.
One of these community level programs through this model is known as the Wee-chee-way-win Circle and is run by Tikinagan’s childcare workers to coordinate the individuals who create this circle to care for the child’s wellbeing.
Foster parents are part of this circle and work closely with Tikinagan to create a space that is safe and culturally relevant to the child, often being members of the child’s own community.
New environment, old traditions
The philosophy behind Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin is one of community and camaraderie to care for a child’s wellbeing.
“Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin represents the culmination of almost 35 years of work to develop a culturally appropriate response to children and families who are in need of help in the First Nations community.”
It’s a model and mandate that supersedes provincial legislation and allows the Indigenous community to have complete jurisdiction over their own child welfare services. It is designed to ensure services are in accordance with provincial regulations and legislation.
“All our services are wholistic, culturally responsive, and supportive of traditional values and customs.”
This model creates a space that keeps Indigenous children within their community, and it is now being brought deeper into Thunder Bay.
As teamwork creates the environment for proper child wellbeing, Tikinagan is creating a new model for the care and growth of children while keeping with culture and tradition.