Members of Indigenous groups in the Waterloo region say they are still concerned their children continue to experience racism and could be taken from their homes.
The news comes seven years after the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Final Report, according to a release by the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC).
“Based in London with a branch on Coronation Boulevard in Cambridge, the Indigenous-led health care centre carried out a consultation process with members of 18 Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations to help guide the development of a new Indigenous Healthy Child Development (IHCD) program designed to address those concerns,” said an article published by Cambridge Today.
In partnership with the Region of Waterloo Public Health in collaboration with the Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program (HBHC), the IHCD program is expected to start in June.
Charisse Sayer, SOAHAC’s integrated care manager and co-ordinator of the IHCD program, explained that the new program is “culturally safe, trauma-informed and will provide wrap-around care for Indigenous families with young children in Waterloo Region.”
SOAHAC’s new Indigenous Healthy Child Development program attempts to answer the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action No. 5 which asks governments to develop culturally appropriate parenting programs for Indigenous families.
“Data from HBHC indicates that in 2022, there were 6,157 births in the region. A total of 4,126 families were screened of which 124 families were considered vulnerable and consented to home visiting,” said the article.
The IHCD program will offer First Nation, Inuit and Métis families health services centred on Indigenous holistic health.
The new program was developed in support of the TRC call to action No. 5 which asks to develop culturally appropriate parenting programs for Indigenous families.
“For Truth and Reconciliation to be meaningful, municipalities and systems need to first address the ‘Truth’ and take the necessary actions towards Reconciliation including Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination; and honouring and respecting Indigenous worldviews, knowledge, traditions, customs, and ceremonies,” SOAHAC said.
Some examples of traditions that will be preserved within this program include making moss bags for newborns or moccasins for babies, as well as naming ceremonies for little ones to receive their traditional names.