Protecting the Well-being of Our Families
In the spring of 2020, Wabaseemoong leadership approved the development a secretariat program named the NIGONIGAWBOW Secretariat. The Secretariat will function as an advocate for children and families in child welfare matters.
Main sections of the program for the Band Representative Program include:
- Court related Band Representation
- Family Centered Services
- Culture re-integration and continuity
- Intake and Assessment
- Community engagement
Why do we need a NIGONIGAWBOW Secretariat Program?
Historical trauma with Children’s Aid Agencies has been evident in the community since the 1960’s. At its heightened peak, Wabaseemoong had over 300 children in care of the local children’s aid society. Today, there are less than 100 children in care now.
Through an arms-length approach from the community Child Welfare Agency, the Secretariat will operate independently apart from the agencies. It will solely represent the interests of the Band and advocate for the children and families. The program will be guided with the following principles: Family focused, culturally competent, community based, accessible, Individualized, least intrusive, accountable, community collaboration and most importantly, protection of children and preservation of families.
A Track Record of Proven Successes
Since opening its doors, the Secretariat has completed intake for over 278 families fighting to have their children in CFS care returned to their homes or home communities. More families, parents and grandparents seek the services of the Secretariat each day and demand for services is continually growing.
How Band Representative Services Can Help?
Band Representative Services provides band representation on behalf of Wabaseemoong Band Members that become involved in the Child Welfare System. Services include:
- Court representation in Child Welfare Matters
- Band Representation in current and on-going Child Welfare Cases
- Assistance in Finding customary care placements
- On-going case management support
- Providing Legal representation
- A Band Representative acts on behalf of our children and our First Nation with all child welfare matters within Canada, helping families to understand the child welfare system and providing navigation through legal matters.
- Supporting families that are going through any process with any child welfare organization. Our goal is to help families reunite with all parties working together. We cannot intervene if a child is at risk, but we can ensure that children remain with family or community.
- Assistance in advocating for more visits and family involvement in case planning
- Assistance in requesting status reviews and sitting in residential placement reviews
- Assistance in reviewing planning for transitional aged youth leaving the child welfare system
- The program will not get involved in custody matters or family court matters or youth justice
A Focus on Family Centered Programming
Family Centered Programming is a new addition to the Secretariat; it will focus on helping families in prevention programming to reduce the number of children and families coming into contact with child and family services.
How the program works:
- Self referrals are welcome or we accept referrals from community-based agencies in Wabaseemoong
- All requests for services are done through our central intake unit. This unit will gather information and determine which services match the service request
Family centered Services workers will provide the on-going case management once the intake and assessment process has been concluded. The services are community-based. Each client will be provided with assistance in resolving issues which prompted their referral and a community care plan will be developed by the community-care team.
Repatriation for Members Connecting Back with the Community
The Secretariat will provide services for Band Members who request repatriation services. Repatriation services are provided to members currently involved in the child welfare system who wish to establish links back to the community and family systems. These services are provided by the Band Representatives.
Assistance with Investigation and Assessment
The unit provides a centralized intake unit to the Secretariat. Clients requesting services need to complete an intake and sign consent forms for the unit to collect information to best match services according to the needs.
Dispute Resolution Services
At the advice and direction of out program elders, this service is provided at the community-levels to settle disputes in the circle of care setting. (currently under program development)
Management and Administration
Executive Director – Betsy Mandamin
Executive Assistant -Vacant
Director of Service – Isaac Mandamin
Administrative Coordinator – Lara McDonald
Intake and Assessment/Band Rep Trainee – Patrina Ochapowace
Human Resource Administrator – Adele McDonald
Receptionist – Lakeisha Cameron
Band Representative Services
Band Representative – Virginia Pateman
Family Centered Services
Culture Coordinator – Pamela Mandamin
Family Advocate – Tiffany Langan
Family Advocate – Clara Cameron
Family Advocate – Vacant