Tikinagan Presents at Provincial Committee

Posted: January 21st, 2020

Tikinagan Child & Family Services made its case to the Ontario government at the Ontario Legislative pre-budget consultations of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, held yesterday in Sioux Lookout, ON.

Tikinagan challenged the standing committee to acknowledge the remoteness of its 30 First Nation communities and financial barriers of providing service, as well as to increase funding for prevention services.

“Remoteness hinders the services we can provide, but more importantly, it creates barriers for children and families who need primary care, medical, vision and dental services to name a few,” said Thelma Morris, Tikinagan Executive Director who presented at the meeting along with Rachel Tinney, Tikinagan Associate Executive Director.

Tikinagan serves 30 fly-in and remote First Nations all north of Sioux Lookout, covering more than one-third of the province. Unlike other child welfare agencies in Ontario, there is no central, urban core to the Tikinagan jurisdiction -- an area of several hundred thousand square kilometers.

Morris: “We have children for whom it is impossible to find resources in their community or in another First Nation, whether it be for counseling, specialized appointments, or developmental needs. Doctors and specialists visit, but very infrequently; once a month, at best.”

Tikinagan also highlighted the need for more prevention dollars, which is currently only $1.3-million for 30 communities, averaging less than $43,400 per community. Morris highlighted that prevention provides Tikinagan the opportunity to take a proactive approach in the work with children and families. She noted that previous prevention efforts have led to a 10 percent decline in numbers of children in care.

“We ask that the Province increase prevention funding to Tikinagan so we can build our primary prevention services,” said Morris. “This investment would strengthen our families and communities and lead to fewer families needing intervention and fewer children coming into care.

“Our communities in the north need access to resources, especially in their own community. They are hungry for opportunities to learn, get involved, and become better families. Much like our service model, we rely heavily on the community to provide the support to children and families. Our communities deserve the same resources available to them as anyone else in this province. And they shouldn’t have to travel to access them.”

The standing committee consists of nine Members of the Provincial Parliament, including Sol Mamakwa of the Kiiwetinoong riding which Tikinagan serves.

Along with Tikinagan, some of the other organizations who work in Tikinagan communities who presented included: Independent First Nations Alliance, Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre, KNet Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, and Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority.