The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action outlines specific education and reconciliation measures to remedy past harms against Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

In response Keepers of the Circle actively works to break the cycles of trauma echoing in our communities through decolonization and cultural reclamation processes. Our Family Support Program initiatives apply a family resource and early intervention model of practice that has proven effective in supporting families who are unable to access social, educational and economic opportunities as a result of systemic oppression and their life circumstances.

The Family Support Program operates from a strengths-based, family-focused and community-oriented perspective along a continuum of care. Services offered through the Family Support Program are designed to provide parents separate and joint goal setting and skill building opportunities to help them achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle so they can ensure their children flourish and thrive. It also fosters resilience in children by engaging them in fun, active and healthy activities that develop positive habits and attitudes that last a lifetime. Services are provided at an increased level to families involved with child welfare authorities so they can access support in preparing family preservation and family reunification plans, and in the case of permanent placements, plans to retain family connections.

The Family Support Program is holistic and consists of many working components.
Keepers of the Circle takes a multi-faceted approach informed by our vision and mandate, our Wisdom Keepers council, the Seven Grandfather Teachings and the Medicine Wheel.

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Our Vision and Mandate

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The Seven Grandfather Teachings

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The Medicine Wheel

We employ Family Support Workers that are liaisons to the community and identify potential needs from families as well as create and facilitate fun and engaging opportunities. We connect Indigenous families to trained medical professionals at Mino Msh’ki-ki who can offer medical advice/services and referrals as well as deliver the Canadian Prenatal and Nutritional Program to new and expectant mothers. Our targeted programming provides a safe space, information sharing, workshops and events that give families the tools and support they need to thrive.

For more information about our current programs and upcoming events, please check out our Family and Community Services tabs to discover more.

Programs
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Nurturing the Seed

When Indigenous people speak of well-being, they include four aspects—Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual—all to be nurtured equally throughout life.

They do this with the belief that the entire community supports this worldview, and that each individual has a role to play within the community, regardless of abilities. Colonization, including the impact of residential schools and legislative policies, has greatly diminished this community child rearing practice and fragmented many of these teachings. The result is a greater dependence on the western medical model for supports and interventions, over cultural knowledge and practices regarding infant mental health and wellbeing.

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Many Indigenous peoples view children as direct gifts from the Creator. As in all gifts, children are viewed as unique individuals, with specific and special attributes. Children are not viewed from the perspective of what they cannot do, but rather, from the perspective of what they potentially can do, and that they bring the Creator’s spirit of life and renewal to the whole community. With this in mind, the community recognizes and nurtures these gifts throughout the individual’s life journey. These gifts include personal attributes that the western medical model might describe as disabilities.

In order for Western-oriented practitioners to engage with, and develop meaningful and effective Infant mental health support and treatment plans, they must first understand Indigenous worldviews, and then incorporate Indigenous child rearing practices into their relationship building approaches to working with Indigenous families. Further, Indigenous peoples must continue to come together and share knowledge around child rearing and mental health and wellness practices.

Nurturing the Seed: A Developmental Support Planning Model for Working with Indigenous Infants, Children and Families creates a platform to recognize these differing worldviews and share valuable cultural knowledge specifically relating to infant mental health. It also recognizes the diversity amongst Indigenous peoples across Canada and is by no means a complete description of all child and family approaches practiced by Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is meant to serve as a starting point for engaging with and working with Indigenous families towards developing respectful and effective Developmental Support Plans for Indigenous infants and children.

—Infant Mental Health Promotion (2020) Excerpt from Infant Mental Health Promotions Handbook on Nurturing the Seed. Retrieved from Infant Mental Health Promotion

Keepers of the Circle has adopted this model as a means to provide support for families we serve from an Indigenous perspective and worldview. We combine this model with best practices from our organization in ensuring cultural relevance and empowerment of Indigenous families that they have the information and support they need. Our goal is to build trusting and productive relationships between Indigenous families and caregivers and service providers and to provide a safe space for Indigenous families to share and learn.

For more information about this program and its applicability please contact:

Ronda Guenette
Kirkland Lake
r.guenette@keepersofthecircle.com

Lisa Sloan
New Liskeard
l.sloan@keepersofthecircle.com

Christmas Free Photo Shoot
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Circles Temiskaming

Circles® Canada is a transformative collaborative committed to the elimination of poverty by harnessing the power of caring communities working together.

Circles® helps people transition out of poverty by building intentional, supportive, reciprocal and befriending relationships comprised of a Circle Leader and an individual or family working to get out of poverty and connecting them with community allies and middle class people who are willing to befriend the family and support their way out of poverty.

The Circles® model is of interest to Keepers of the Circle because of its demonstrated success in supporting long-term Ontario Works participants’ transition into employment, education, and improved self-sufficiency. This program ended in October of 2019, however, the resources shared and learning accomplished during the program duration are shared here to bring awareness to this excellent project that we are working to renew in the future.

DTSSAB has committed to funding this excellent and productive project once again, for more information or to stay up to date on project goings-on, please contact

Lori-Ann Moore
Cultural Family Support Worker
l.moore@keepersofthecircle.com

Resources

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