Building on Trust in Pikangikum

Posted: November 28th, 2019


Trust is one of the nine core values at Tikinagan Child & Family Services, and in Pikangikum First Nations it is one of the foundations in strengthening community relationships.

“The way to get to know kids in Pikangikum is to earn their trust and spend time with them in order to get to know them and in order to work with them,” says Whyderman Black, Direct Services Supervisor based in Pikangikum, adding that this same approach applies when working with families in the community, including extended family members.

“We get along with (families) pretty well,” says Black.

Pikangikum Band Council Member, Susan D. Strang, speaking in Ojibway, is thankful for the work Tikinagan has done for her community’s children and families, including hiring staff who live in Pikangikum.

“I know Tikinagan is there to help our families and not take the children away,” says Strang. “We make mistakes with our children and Tikinagan is there to try and help us on how to keep our children.”

Tikinagan understands that trust is essential to building effective relationships and we know that it must be earned through consistency and dependability. Like our efforts in Pikangikum, the largest of 30 First Nations communities we serve with a population of more than 2,500, Tikinagan is committed to being trustworthy in fulfilling the responsibilities inherent in our mandate as a First Nations child well-being organization.

Black highlights recent events Tikinagan hosted in the community, such as their annual Fall and Christmas feasts, has helped families get more involved. In addition, Tikinagan hosted two Meet & Greet events in the community (one in the summer and another in November), providing staff and the community the opportunity to connect, as well as promote current job opportunities in the community.

“I think the community is more anxious to get involved, to get to know Tikinagan,” says Black. “They see that Tikinagan is trying to help them out.”

Black notes that Pikangikum sees his community as an organization that works together with others in the community. Involvement in 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.

Black regularly encourages his team of nine staff to work closely with families by talking to them and getting to know their culture so they can build the trust. He says one priority in the community is the language. Currently, Black believes about half of the youth in the community speak Ojibway. One way Tikinagan supports this effort with families is by having staff speak the language.

Along with Black, the Pikangikum-based staff include Sonny Suggashie, Office Administrator; Case Aid Workers Shanda Quill, Michael Owen, and Philip Pascal; and Family Service Workers Robert Quill, Justin Suggashie, June McNally, Alicia Brown, and Santana King.

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