Pride initiatives at Tikinagan

Honouring and supporting the 2SLGBTQ+ community is a natural extension of Tikinagan Child and Family Services’ motivating philosophy, the organization says as it marks pride month.

“In the spirit of Mamow Obiki-ahwashsoowin, ‘everyone working together to raise our children,’ Tikinagan strives to be a diverse and inclusive organization that supports equality and is committed to fostering a supportive environment for all,” said associate executive director Rachel Tinney.

Tinney sits on Tikinagan’s recently formed 2SLGBTQ+ committee, one piece of what the organization calls a growing effort to uplift 2SLGBTQ+ children, staff, and parents.

pride shirt

“Prior to COVID-19, we were running frequent 2SLGBTQ+ trainings for staff and foster parents,” she said. “We think it’s important the adults in the lives of our children and youth are providing effective, affirming, and equitable services for diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions.”

The agency, which serves over 30 First Nations throughout Northwestern Ontario, is also developing a resource to provide information about 2SLGBTQ+ definitions, rights, frequently asked questions, and more.

The 2SLGBTQ+ committee, which meets weekly, has launched an internal staff survey, created an inclusion statement for Tikinagan, and held and supported pride month events.

It also designed shirts for staff and children and youth in care to mark pride month this year.

“We affirm the rights of all our First Nations children and youth to their identity, expression, and sexual orientation,” Tinney said.

It’s all part of an operating philosophy that attempts to transform traditional child service models, according to Tinney.

“Our agency is rooted in the fundamental value of respect,” she said. “We have respect for all creation and we are grateful for the gifts that we are blessed with every day… This respect is demonstrated through humility, a non-judgmental attitude, effective listening, clear communication, and recognition of the unique strengths of others.”