OHSWEKEN – It’s been in the works for almost a decade — Six Nations has its very own community based child protective services agency fully designated with the province.
Ogwadeni:deo made the announcement of their official designation status Jan 25.
“I am overwhelmed with many emotions at this time. The journey leading us to this day has been long and filled with many lessons,” expressed Crystal Doolittle, Director of Ogwadeni:deo. “Our community has awaited a change to the Child Welfare System and most important to our own service model, filled with community values, pride and inclusivity. I am anticipating the road ahead of us will continue to be filled with lessons as we endeavour to empower change for our people one family at a time. We will do the best we can to continue to communicate openly and provide opportunities for inclusion in our ongoing service delivery, development and evaluation of our processes.”
Since 1971 Six Nations child welfare concerns were addressed by Brant CAS, who had an on-reserve office. However community concerns surrounding heavy handed removal of indigenous children from their families by local CAS prompted Six Nations governments to call for a Six Nations led service with cultural and community values at its core.
The process to establish Six Nation’s own child welfare agency began in 2009. Representatives from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy formed a mandate with SNEC to work together to establish a new way forward — with community consultation at the heart of it’s birth.
By 2012 Ogwadeni:deo was ready to pursue it’s own designation as a child welfare service in the province.
Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill welcomed the news of the agency’s official designation. In a statement Hill said, “Nia:weh to the community for their patience, contributions and continued involvement. Although there is still work to do, we are excited to have a community-based agency that works with our children, families and existing services.”
A statement from Six Nations Elected Council says the agency began delivering child protection services officially January 29.
A transition period will commence between Brant Family and Children’s Services and Ogwadeni:deo to accommodate families as the shift occurs.
“This is a significant accomplishment made possible with much work and support of our community members, working group and commission members, community programs and staff,” said Arliss Skye, Director of Six Nations Social Services. “We are looking forward to a community celebration in early March.”
Ogwadeni:deo’s head office is located in Ohsweken at 2469 Fourth Line. The agency will operate Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. An after-hours service will also be in place to ensure 24-hour coverage and response to child protection concerns.
During the transition period, those wishing to report new concerns of child abuse and/or neglect are asked to continue contacting Brant Family and Children’s Services at 519-753-8681 until April 1, 2018. All other reports or inquiries can be made through Ogwadeni:deo at 519-445-1864.