Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, Tikinagan Child & Family Services’ service model, which means “everyone working together to raise our children,” has always been seen as a trailblazer in allowing First Nations to exercise their rights around how they want their children and families supported. Now, the agency is taking another step as a leader in child welfare approaches.

At the Tikinagan Annual Chiefs Assembly held virtually October 2021, Tikinagan Executive Director, Thelma Morris presented on a proposal called Niigaanshkaawin. The name, which means “walking ahead or first to walk ahead,” aptly describes the goal to have Tikinagan break trail on a new, proactive path to support and integrate Band Representative programs and First Nation law making. At the Assembly a resolution was passed to form a new Chiefs Committee to oversee a process to determine the role of the agency in the future with wide-ranging changes in the child welfare landscape.

“We chose the name Niigaanshkaawin because Tikinagan has always led the way,” explained Morris. “I have always said we are two-steps ahead of everyone in Ontario. This can be the base for child welfare laws in Ontario. My dream is for each First Nation to have their own child welfare laws.”

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