Neegan Inabin Planning
As a part of our Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin service model, we believe the answer lies within the community. Our overall goal is to keep our children with us.
Children need stability and continuity in caring relationships in order to grow and develop to become strong and healthy adults. When children are placed in Tikinagan care, this continuity becomes disrupted and they are faced with the trauma of separation and loss. It is our responsibility to restore as much stability into their lives as possible. That is why when we look at long-term planning as “Neegan Inabin,” which means “looking forward.”
Children in care have the right to live long term with a family where they can feel secure, where they can experience unconditional love and caring and where they can be protected from any further abuse or neglect. It may or may not be possible for this to be provided within their own family. When long term care cannot be provided by the child’s own family, Tikinagan has the responsibility to provide a Neegan Inabin plan for the child.
Where there is agreement by all parties, Tikinagan will assist in Neegan Inabin planning such as long-term Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin Care, long-term private arrangements, Nehpich Meenawasoowin Custom Adoption (First Nation authorized), and mainstream adoption.
Tikinagan works to plan for all children in care in ways that promote continuity in family relationships and continued contact for the child in care with their own family and First Nation community, and to promote Native identity and pride for all children in care.
Nehpich Meenawasoowin Custom Adoption
In Nishnawbe culture there has always been custom adoption or gifting of children. However, there are modern requirements which may require an agency like Tikinagan and the First Nation to be involved in the process. Tikinagan adapted the traditional methods of gifting to address such issues as giving the child a legal status, clarifying the child’s guardianship for school, health care, and other government services. Nehpich Meenawasoowin recognizes the authority of First Nations by instituting a form of custom adoption that gains its status from the First Nation government not the courts. Nehpich Meenawahsoowin does not replace the traditional practice of gifting or custom adoption, but it is only an option offered where there is interest and when appropriate.
The word in the native language used to describe “gifting” is kimeenin or nehpich-kimeenin.
Nehpich meenawasoowin can occur in any of the following situations:
- Child is gifted at birth, or another time, to another family to raise;
- Child is an orphan or a near orphan;
- Child is in care or in a private arrangement and caregiver wants to custom adopt the child (change of status).
In accordance with Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, Tikinagan works collaboratively with all of the family members, Elders, and the First Nation leadership to reach consensus on the plan for the child. This may require one or more case conferences or even a form of alternative dispute resolution such as Talking Together.
Nehpich meenawasoowin is not a decision of the Chief and Council — it is an agreement between the families. Chief and Council ratify or sanction the gifting by a special form of First Nation Declaration, which gives the family a legal foundation as a form of customary care. Chief and Council may sign this document at the gifting ceremony, if there is one, to give stature to this plan. When the agency is involved, Tikinagan should facilitate the process, but the goal is to find a home for the child which does not require the child to be in Tikinagan care.
Tikinagan conducts adoption home studies, places children in approved adoptive homes, and supervises these placements until the adoptions are finalized. Tikinagan is also able to provide assistance and counselling to adults who were adopted as children and are looking for information about their personal history.
Due to the nature of our services, we do not accept emails and encourage you to call or write us at the mailing address below.
Tikinagan Child & Family Services
P.O. Box 627
Sioux Lookout, ON P8T 1B1
Or call and ask for Intake
T: 800-465-3624 (Toll Free)
Adoption Council of Ontario — The Adoption Council of Ontario (ACO) is a not-for-profit organization providing outreach, support, and education to all adoptees, adoptive parents, potential adoptive parents, birth families, and adoption professionals in Ontario. ACO runs the Centralized Adoption Intake service which provides a central point of information and support to help prospective adoptive caregivers learn more about adoption and complete their application.
Adopt Ontario — Adopt Ontario is a photo listing website that connects children from Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario waiting for adoption with families in Ontario. It is a program of the Adoption Council of Ontario.
Adopt4Life — Adopt4Life is the association in Ontario that provides peer-based community supports to parents and caregivers at all stages of the adoption journey.
Adoption Resource Exchange — The Adoption Resource Exchange conference is an MCCSS funded program that helps locate and match adoptive families with Ontario children needing adoption. These events are hosted a few times a year by the Adoption Council of Ontario.
Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) — MCCSS provides oversight of Children’s Aid Societies and children and youth for whom adoption is an option.