ALIGN’s “Reconciliation Talks” Blog – Honouring National Indigenous Heritage Month: Building Stronger Child Welfare Systems Together

At ALIGN Association of Community Services, we recognize that the path to Reconciliation and improved child welfare for Indigenous communities is a shared journey that requires collaboration, mutual learning, and respect. This June, as we honour National Indigenous Heritage Month, we emphasize our commitment to working alongside Indigenous communities to build stronger child welfare systems.

Following the introduction of The Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children, youth and families (Bill C92), it is imperative that non-Indigenous agencies understand the importance of working alongside Indigenous communities to ensure the effective implementation of this transformative legislation.

The Act under Bill C92 represents a significant shift in child welfare, emphasizing the rights of Indigenous communities to self-determination and jurisdiction over child wellbeing services. As non-Indigenous agencies, our role is to support and collaborate with Indigenous communities, acknowledging their expertise and authority in child welfare matters.

Building Trust and Mutual Respect

Successful collaboration hinges on the strength of relationships between non-Indigenous agencies and Indigenous communities. Establishing trust and open lines of communication is important for fostering mutual respect and understanding. This could involve regular and meaningful engagement with Indigenous leaders, elders, and community members to understand their priorities, concerns, and visions for child welfare.

Why It Matters

Building strong relationships ensures that collaboration is not just a transactional process, but a partnership grounded in trust and respect. It allows for the co-creation of solutions that are culturally relevant and aligned with the needs and aspirations of Indigenous communities.

Suggested Action Steps:

· Get to know your Indigenous neighbours.

· Attend their cultural events and invite them to attend your events.

· Schedule regular meetings with Indigenous community leaders and stakeholders to discuss ongoing initiatives and explore new opportunities for collaboration.

· Create advisory councils or working groups that include Indigenous representatives to provide guidance and input on child welfare policies and practices.

· Practice active listening, showing a genuine commitment to understanding and addressing the concerns and recommendations of Indigenous partners.

· Consider offering capacity building and/or mentoring support to assist in furthering collaboration.

Conclusion

The Act under Bill C92 provides a historic opportunity to transform child welfare for Indigenous communities in Alberta and across Canada.

At ALIGN Association of Community Services, we are committed to collaborating and learning from Indigenous communities to support this vital work. Together, through collaboration and mutual learning, we can build stronger, more equitable child wellbeing systems that honor the rights and sovereignty of Indigenous peoples.

Let us embrace this journey with humility, respect, and a shared commitment to creating a brighter future for all children.

Celebrate National Indigenous Heritage Month

As we honour National Indigenous Heritage Month, we encourage you to participate in local events celebrating Indigenous culture and heritage. Here are some events happening in Alberta:

Edmonton, Alberta: · June 19, 2024: UoA National Indigenous Peoples Day with Lance Cardinal (Virtual) · June 19-21, 2024: 3-day Culture Camp by Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society · June 21, 2014 – Telus World of Science – National Indigenous Peoples Day

Calgary, Alberta: · June 15, 2024: National Indigenous History Month: Secret Path with Mike Downie(virtual) · June 16-22, 2024: Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary (AAWC) · June 21, 2024: Calgary Municipal Building Atrium – Metis Jigging Lessons · June 21, 2024 Prince’s Island Park – Traditional Blackfoot Confederacy Tipi Transfer Ceremony

These events are a great opportunity to learn, celebrate, and connect with Indigenous communities. Let’s take this month to deepen our understanding and strengthen our relationships.

See More The Act Under Bill C-92 Resources/Updates 

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ALIGN ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY SERVICES

Based out of Edmonton, we are a provincial collection of allies – a unified community of agencies that represents the diverse needs of Alberta’s children and families. We are proud to champion the work of our front line service providers and to support our members. Together, we are stronger.

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