[VIDEO] ​Supervisors learn importance of working together

Posted: March 2nd, 2020

Twelve years ago, Miranda Rae started her career with Tikinagan Child Family Services as a receptionist in her home community in Weagamow (North Caribou/Round Lake) Lake First Nation.

Now with poise and a calm voice, Rae, who accepted a Supervisory position with the agency one month ago, was one of the presenters at the bi-annual Supervisors Meeting in front of more than 100 supervisors and managers held in Lac Seul First Nation, February 25-27. The purpose of the meetings was to provide training, empowerment, and direction for supervisors based in communities Tikinagan serves on policies and procedures related to the agency, new legislation, and program information, as well as finance and human resources updates.

“As a Supervisor for Tikinagan it was very enlightening,” said Rae of the three days. “At the beginning it was very important when (Executive Director) Thelma Morris came out and spoke about the Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin service model and how we need to be working together when serving our people.”

Rae emphasized how the next three days always connected back to the service model.

“All of the training moving forward aligned with how each was connected. For example, intake, family services, youth outreach, foster homes, residential care licensing, and how Tikinagan is working as a collective to better serve our people.”

Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, which means “everyone working together to raise our children,” represents the culmination of more than 35 years of work to develop a culturally appropriate response to children and families who are in need of help in the First Nation communities. In developing Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, Rosemary McKay, Special Projects Coordinator and a pioneer in helping develop the model for the organization, said Tikiagan sought to be true to the original vision that the Chiefs and Elders had when Tikinagan was created.

McKay explained how starting the training by helping Supervisors understand the service model was very important: “Tikinagan is still growing, so it is important at this time that the Supervisors understand what Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin is, and that they pass it on. This is the foundation of how they do their work.”

“This Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin model is not just a name,” added McKay. “The name stands for our peoples… that we work for everyday and their customs. That is was how they raised their children. This goes back way before the Child Family Services Act and Legislation. We’re looking back at before the government took over our lives as First Nations people.”

Even though Brittany Johnson, Director Services Supervisor, has worked with Tikinagan for six years and served a Supervisor for almost two years, she understands the importance of hearing about the model and how it connects to her work.

“A highlight for me was just hearing the perspectives about Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, ensuring the service model is at the forefront of the work that we do — for our communities, for our families,” said Johnson of the meetings.

Johnson presented on Part X of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, which is a legislative privacy framework for Ontario’s child and youth sector. Effective January 1, 2020, Part X establishes new rules for the collection, use, and disclosure of, and access to, personal information held by Ministry-funded service providers like Tikinagan. Johnson explained how Tikinagan will implement the new requirements with continued, culturally-appropriate approaches and responses to families and communities.

“I hope my presentation really emphasized on how we can protect our client’s information, ensuring that we have those trusting relationships and that we have respect for our families and our communities and allowing them to have a voice,” said Johnson. “They have an inherent right to have their information protected.”

Along with the presentations — which consisted of updates on Bill C-92, overviews on new or existing services, privacy laws related to new legislation, and administration procedures — the meetings also had activities that focused on having the staff working together.

Jemimah Missewace, Direct Services Supervisor based in Thunder Bay for the last five of nine years with Tikinagan, said she enjoyed the icebreaker games the staff participated in and time she had to connect with staff in informal ways, which involved “laughter, getting up, moving around, not sitting in a meeting all day. It was a good break for us.”

She added: “I enjoyed meeting new people, new staff. I am kind of overwhelmed meeting the new staff in Thunder Bay.”

In summarizing the meetings, Johnson concluded: “I think other people learned how important it is to have relationships with people that we serve.”