Community Hall with Thelma Morris

November 5, 2021, Coffee Break

Tikinagan continues to follow the lead of our First Nations, both in our service delivery and our approach to the pandemic, said Thelma Morris, Tikinagan Executive Director at Coffee Break’s on Friday.

Thelma met with staff across the entire agency during a virtual Community Hall on Teams — the second ever of its kind. She first shared about the Niigaanshkaawin proposal made at our October’s Annual Chiefs Assembly, which will see Tikinagan break trail on a new, proactive path to support and integrate Band Representative programs and First Nation law making.

Although we could not gather in person, I am happy we could meet on Teams during Coffee Break to host this meeting. It was an excellent idea to get together and connect.

— Thelma

“We are excited,” said Thelma of Niigaanshkaawin. “These changes mean listening to our communities, who continue to lead, and do the work in a way our people want it done.”

The Niigaanshkaawin proposal, which means “walking ahead or first to walk ahead,” will transition Tikinagan’s role in some communities from a position of child welfare leadership to a more supportive role in developing and enacting their own child welfare laws that align with their community’s culture and history. It follows after the federal government passed Bill C-92, An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families. This legislation has the goal of keeping Indigenous children and youth connected to their families, communities and culture — the focus of our service model Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin.

Niigaanshkaawin will see a new Tikinagan Chiefs Committee consult with community members and leaders to determine the specific role communities want the agency to fill. These consultations will allow Tikinagan to prepare to support in whatever way each community sees fit.

Thelma also touched on the policy regarding vaccinations at the agency. She saidvaccinations are important for keeping our staff safe and the children and families we are mandated to protect.

“We have seen a high vaccination rate among our staff. When staff have been required to travel, they have been following each communities’ rules regarding pandemic. I want to thank our staff who go to the communities and follow the rules.”

Boosters have been made available to eligible Ontarians since it has been found that the vaccine effectiveness weans after six months (Read More Here). Thelma shared with the staff she is going to get her booster soon.

“I am looking forward to it as I enjoy travelling and experiencing different places safely,” she said.

As a result of our regions high vaccination rate and low rate of infection, changes have been made to the premium pay (as per the memo ‘Premium Pay Update’ issued on November 1, 2021 – see here).

Staff have been slowly moving back to offices. Managers are working in office regularly and have been encouraged to regularly schedule staff to work in office so they can receive support from their managers.

“We are carefully monitoring the COVID situation in our region and in the province and will continue with movement back to in-office work as long as cases remain low.”

Thelma concluded the Community Hall by thanking everyone who was able to attend the town hall. “Although we could not gather in person, I am happy we could meet on Teams during Friday Coffee Break to host this meeting. It was an excellent idea to get together and connect.”

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Staff Association in partnership with the Communications Team, has been hosting weekly every Friday afternoon at 2pm Central. This has been a time for our agency to come together and support each other through a difficult time. The half hour to one hour meeting has varied in activities, such as sharing circles, online games, contests, arts & crafts, general chatting and more.