Who are we?
We are a community-based child welfare agency rooted in and accountable to the First Nations communities we serve. We are a large team of residential care workers, child care workers, family service workers, community-based prevention workers, intake workers, and administrative staff.
We are here because we want to protect our children, help our families and nurture our communities.
Tikinagan Child and Family Services has a dual mandate. It is one of 53 Children's Aid Societies in Ontario mandated under the Child and Family Services Act to protect children from harm. We are accountable to Ontario for this responsibility. We are also mandated by our Chiefs to provide services that are culturally sensitive to the needs of Aboriginal children, families and First Nations. We are accountable to the Chiefs and to the communities for this responsibility.
First Nations Mandate
Tikinagan is mandated by the chiefs of Nishnawbe-Aski Nation to provide services in a manner that is sensitive to the unique needs of the Native child and family, Native culture and traditions, and the concept of the extended family.
Families often require help at many levels to address issues of mental health, family violence, marital support and addictions, and communities often do not have the necessary resources to meet all of the familyâ€™s needs. In establishing Tikinagan as a Native child welfare agency, the Chiefs were committed to providing services to children and families in whatever manner necessary to prevent them from becoming "at risk." Tikinagan was formed, not only to provide child protection services, but also to provide family support and intervention services, to assist and seek out resources for families to overcome their difficulties and to broaden the social services network for the benefit of our children and families.
As a Children's Aid Society, Tikinagan has been mandated since April 1987 under the Child and Family Services Act to provide services that will ensure children are protected from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, and other forms of maltreatment.
The legislative roots of this mandate lie in the 1965 Welfare Agreement between the federal and provincial governments. This agreement transferred responsibility for Native child welfare from the federal government to the provincial government. At the time, First Nations were assured of an opportunity to develop Native models and standards for their own child welfare services.
The Answers Lie Within The Communities
The Creator entrusted First Nations with the sacred responsibility of protecting our children and developing strong families and healthy communities. The Chiefs created Tikinagan to support and strengthen our children, our families, and our communities. The future of our communities is our children. They need to be nurtured within their families and communities. As such, community responsibility for child protection is an essential aspect of Native self-government.
The sacred responsibility for developing and sustaining our families
takes us as Aboriginal people back to the past to prepare ourselves for the
future. The concepts, principles, and
the values practised are the strengths we need now to encourage to ensure
healthy families, which in turn will be the foundation of strong and healthy
The overall goal of Tikinagan Child and Family Services is to keep our children with us, and within our community. The goal challenges us to:
- nourish the values and principles of our people
- draw our strengths from the people we serve
- develop skills and resources at the community level to address child welfare issues
- The primary responsibility for a child's safety and well-being is with the family. The extended family is the next option if a family cannot care for its children.
- At the community level, the safety and well-being of children is everyone's responsibility. Anyone aware of children in need of protection should ensure the children and their families receive assistance. The primary purpose of service to families is to keep them intact and ensure children are safe and well.
- Services should be family-focused, community-based, and First Nation-controlled and delivered. The community will establish methods for resolving disagreements with respect to families and children.
- Tikinagan will provide or arrange for guidance and counselling for families and their children to prevent children from being harmed and wherever possible, to keep children with their families and in their own communities.
- Where the First Nation is providing services, Tikinagan will provide backup support and advice. Tikinagan is the final authority for ensuring that children are safe and well. Recourse to provincial courts will only be made when all other efforts to protect children have failed.
- Tikinagan will assist First Nations to locate children who have been lost through the child welfare process and to repatriate children where possible and appropriate.
Tikinagan has nine core values. These are: respect, trust, honesty, language, Elders, culture, customary care, accountability and spirituality.
RESPECT – Our agency is rooted in the fundamental value of respect. We have respect for all creation and we are grateful for the gifts that we are blessed with every day. Throughout our work, we hold deep respect for children, families, communities, Elders, traditions and culture. This respect is demonstrated through humility, a non-judgmental attitude, effective listening, clear communication, and recognition of the unique strengths of others.
TRUST – We understand that trust is essential to building effective relationships and we know that trust must be earned through consistency and dependability. We are committed to being trustworthy in fulfilling the responsibilities inherent in our mandate as a First Nations child welfare organization.
HONESTY – Our respect for those we serve is reflected in our commitment to honesty. We are committed to be consistently truthful in our interactions with others, to be open and direct in identifying issues, to say what we mean and to follow through with what we say. We are willing to listen with an open mind and an open heart, to hear feedback and to accept criticism.
LANGUAGE – Language is the keystone to cultural identity and to the preservation of culture. We strive to communicate effectively using our First Nation languages, both verbally and in written materials, with the children, families and communities we serve. We promote the use of our first language with the children in our care.
ELDERS – Our Elders carry with them the history of our communities and the roots of our culture. They provide us with wisdom, guidance, direction and encouragement. They teach us about respect, trust and honesty, reflection and patience. We will hold the Elders in high regard and we will go to them for help, advice and support in our work with children and families.
CULTURE – We are committed to the provision of services that respect and respond to the cultural heritage and traditions of the First Nations people whom we serve. We recognize that culture is the basis for personal and family identity, pride and self-esteem. We understand that each First Nation community is unique. Our service delivery model respects the inherent right and authority of First Nations to care for their children.
CUSTOMARY CARE – We respect traditional customary practices of caring for children, and we strive to uphold these traditional customs in the ways that we organize and deliver child welfare services. Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin care embraces the inherent jurisdiction of First Nations to make decisions for children in need of protection. Through Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin care, we work to preserve family unity and build a network of shared community responsibility for raising children.
ACCOUNTABILITY – Through our First Nations mandate, we are entrusted with the responsibility of providing child welfare services. We are accountable to provide high quality services to children and families. We are committed to excellence and dependability in all aspects of service delivery.
SPIRITUALITY – From our Aboriginal culture and traditions, we believe that all people are spiritual beings and that our children are sacred gifts from the Creator. Tikinagan will respect all spiritual beliefs. We believe people have the right to choose their own spiritual beliefs and spiritual practices.