Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Text Size

First Nation's grandmothers keep culture alive and prepare for future

by Contributor

theneslondaily.com

Near Prince Rupert on B.C.’s North Coast, a group of grandmothers has been keeping Lax Kw’alaams children and youth connected to their culture and community, while giving them a voice in planning their futures.

The Tsimshian elders call themselves Nagantsi’istk (Ancestors/Grandmothers) and act as positive role models who build trust with the children, their families and their community through communication. For example, the grandmothers contacted each child in care from their community through video conferencing before meeting each child in person.

This Christmas, the grandmothers are sending cards to all of the children in the province who belong to their community. This personal approach helps the children feel more comfortable as they get back in touch with their roots and helps them understand just how much the grandmothers and the community care about them.

Many Aboriginal and First Nations children and youth in care are placed with families who live outside of their home communities. Some lose the connection to their culture and to their families of origin. Others may feel like they haven’t had a voice in planning for their futures, including developing permanency plans that might consist of adoption, living with a relative or possibly being supported to live on their own.

For three years, the grandmothers have been working with families, local agencies, the community and the Ministry of Children and Family Development to ensure that all parties, including the children, are able to provide input into the children’s permanency plans. As well, they are collaborating with social workers to help identify local foster homes so children and youth in care don’t have to leave the community.

“Our children are paramount and we want them to come home,” said Helen Johnson, who helped found the group. “Many of them really don’t know who they are. We need to bring them back so they know where they come from, where they belong and how much we care for them. It’s important to them and important to us.”

Through activities such as berry picking or fishing and fish-smoking camps, the grandmothers also provide cultural teachings to introduce or maintain the children’s connection to their cultural roots and foster a sense of belonging to their community.

“These grandmothers have a genuine passion and concern for the Lax Kw’alaams children and are taking action to ensure their children stay connected to their community, heritage and culture,” said Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux. “Their efforts are helping to promote healing for families in the community and are thereby reducing the number of children being taken into care.”

Why It Matters:

Along with helping to identify local families who can provide permanent homes for the children that are in care, members of Nagantsi’istk also partner with the ministry to work with families in crisis and help prevent children from coming in to care in the first place.

The goal of their work is to have children return to, or remain with, their families wherever possible; and whenever children do have to be taken into care, they work to ensure the children have an established permanency plan that keeps them in their community. Such permanency plans work to ease the impact that being taken into care has on the children and helps preserve their community and cultural connection.

Through this approach, child welfare services are provided in the context of Tsimshian culture, building greater unity and trust between families, the community and the social workers involved.

The efforts of Nagantsi’istk have been noticed by other groups in the province who are now looking to emulate their approach. In fact, this year, there are three Aboriginal agencies and three First Nations involved in similar projects that are creating permanency plans for their children in care across the four avenues of permanency: cultural, physical, legal and relational.

Quick Facts:

- Since the official start of the project in 2011-12, all Lax Kw’alaams children in care, including those living elsewhere in B.C., have been identified – 37 in total.

- With a grant provided through the Lex Reynolds Adoption and Permanency Trust Fund, the group plans to invite all the children from their community who have been in care homes to Lax Kw’alaamsin the spring of 2014 to learn traditional sea weed gathering and to meet their extended family.

· Nagantsi’istk was a 2010-11 Premier's Awards Regional Finalist for the Interior/North in the partnership category.

· They also received the B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth Award of Excellence for Cultural Heritage and Diversity in 2010.

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Write comment (7 Comments)

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

Write comment (2 Comments)

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...

OBIDIAH

obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

EVENTS

April 2014
S M T W T F S
30 31 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 1 2 3
Thu Mar 20 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
1ST WOMENS GATHERING WITH THE 13 INDIGENOUS GRANDMOTHERS
Mon Mar 31 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
NICE ‘Indian’ Trust Funds
Fri Apr 04 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
THE 21ST ANNUAL ABORIGINAL MIXED CURLING BONSPIEL

John Bigface

imageimageimageimageimage
cartoonscartoonscartoonscartoonscartoons

Current Video

Indigenous Writers Festival 2014 Opening Night

Write comment (0 Comments)

Chief Arlen Dumas Confronts NC Shawn Atleo

Write comment (2 Comments)

Employment