As national celebrations are held to mark National Aboriginal Day on June 21, 2015, The Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk would like to recognize the unique heritage, culture, contributions and sacrifices of Aboriginal individuals and communities.
This is a time for Ontario’s Child Welfare Sector to reflect on its role during a period in Canadian history when large numbers of Aboriginal children were taken into care, severing the connection between children and their parents, community, and culture over many generations. OACAS and CASs across Ontario have since, and over time, embarked on a journey of acknowledgement and reflection, working to advocate for an equitable and respectful system of care and services for the Aboriginal communities they serve and support.
On June 2, 2015, Justice Murray Sinclair released the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Summary Report. The report includes 94 recommendations. A final report will be released later this year as well. The aim of the Commission and its report is to address the continuing legacy of the residential school system and “to guide and inspire a process of truth and healing leading towards reconciliation”. This summary report is a call to action to all Canadians, but especially to the child welfare system. Over the last decade the system has made progress in how it supports Aboriginal children and families. Nine Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario are now designated as Aboriginal agencies and their mandate is to serve their communities in ways that preserve their culture.
At our Society, we have provided all staff and board of directors with a copy of The Other Side of the Door; A practice guide for child welfare professionals working with First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples. We are also wearing unity buttons as a reminder of the teachings related to the Medicine Wheel. In traditional storytelling, many Elders teach about equality and respect for all people of the four colours. This is what the message behind the unity button is all about, the celebration of our individuality as well as the diversity of our many nations. The important part of the button is the centre because it is where the four colours meet and where our nations join each other in the spirit of unity.
For more information on this day or the reports mentioned, please visit the website of The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies at www.oacas.org or you can contact The Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk at 1-888-227-5437, or visit our website at: www.cashn.on.ca