The Answer Lies Within Deer Lake

Posted: November 18th, 2019

It’s another cold November evening in Deer Lake First Nation, and when most of the community has finished work for the day, the staff at Tikinagan Child and Family Services are returning from an airport run – well past five o’clock.

The team of six community-based workers are all helping unload more than a dozen boxes from the truck with smiles on their faces. Tomorrow, they will prepare food at the community school to feed more than 100 people for the annual fall feast, hosted by Tikinagan.

This is just one of the ways Tikinagan supports children and families in the community they work in. Tikinagan and its staff are a part of the community. Involvement and support for community and cultural events are a key part of Tikinagan’s service model, Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin (in Ojibway/Oji-Cree, it means, "everybody working together to raise our children"). Having community-based staff and believing the answers lie within each community are also important to the success of Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin.

Darren Rae, a Tikinagan Direct Service Supervisor in Deer Lake and staff member for almost six years, says his staff follow the model and its mandate to provide culturally appropriate services in his community of more than 1,200 people.

“We look to Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin as a guide,” says Rae. “Each community is unique and different, but that shouldn’t deter on how we perceive Aboriginal values and the delivery of the service mode.”

While Tikinagan is known as the child and family agency in Deer Lake, they are so much more. The team serves the community during special events that brings people together and celebrates their culture, such as Canada Day and Aboriginal Day. They also plan and provide year-round activities for youth. Last month, Tikinagan booked the arena for a community dance, and in two weeks, it will participate in the school’s career fair.

Kasenda Meekis, Tikinagan Child Care Worker in Deer Lake, believes her community sees Tikinagan as an organization that wants to help families and children.

“Deer Lake loves to acknowledge our culture,” says Meekis. “I think that Tikinagan is helping with that a lot by introducing more ways for youth to be involved.”

“They also see our staff as involved in the community,” she adds.

Tikinagan full-time community-based staff in Deer Lake in Deer Lake, include Rae and Meekis as well as Cory Meekis, Direct Services Supervisor; Yzerman Kakegamic, Prevention Services Coordinator; Tritney Goodman, Family Services Worker; and Sonia Meekis, Receptionist. Rae regularly reminds them of Tikinagan’s vision and their purpose in Deer Lake.

“Not all rewards are in the physical form, but what Tikinagan represents is giving these families a sense of security, hope, and ambition for a brighter future,” says Rae.

For more information on Tikinagan Child and Family Services or the Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin service model, visit Tikinagan.org.