Author: nativechildagencies

Reflections from the 2019 Elders Gathering

by Bernadette Maracle, Prevention Manager for ANCFSAO

The 2019 Elders Gathering, hosted by Mnaasged Child and Family Services and ANCFSAO, ran for three days from September 24th-26th in Muncee-Delaware Territory, bringing together Elders from Indigenous child and family well-being agencies from across Ontario.

Elders, helpers, and cultural coordinators came together to discuss the future of child welfare. Friends were reunited and new friendships were formed, with hugs, tears, and smiles exchanged constantly throughout the three-day event.

During the gathering, attendees heard amazing words of wisdom about the teaching of the big drum, giving tobacco, honour songs, and women supporting the drums by standing around the men singing and drumming.

The Mnaasged Cultural Coordinator, Nicholas Deleary, spoke on the history of their communities and why the agency operates in Southern Ontario: they are in the centre of a triangle, between three sacred water women points, one being Niagara Falls.

Gordon Peters, Deputy Grand Chief from Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI), spoke about legislation developments concerning Indigenous child welfare and what can be done to improve and correct them.

Beatrice Twance-Hynes, a Juno-nominated hand-drummer, played several of her songs for the group and shared teachings about playing and caring for drums.

Attendees heard a powerful story from an Elder about a men’s healing gathering, his story of years of abuse at a residential school, and his creation of a healing program for men suffering from trauma. 

Larry Jourdain emphasized the concepts of cultural arbitration and cultural congruency over phrases like “culturally appropriate” or “culturally sensitive”, as communities are looking to implement a practise that puts culture at the centre of families’ healing and strengthening.

Nogdawindamin has 26 cultural workers with 800 referrals last year and 600 so far this year. The Cultural Unit covers requests for ceremonies, teachings and workshops, assistance with circles, staff support and team building, events, community support, and collaboration and partnerships. Ceremonies include those dedicated to finding clan and colours, naming, baby-welcoming, walking out, adoption, and reunification. The agency hosts annual events and ceremonies by the season.

Feasts, drumming, and sunrise ceremonies bonded the group and kept discussions and teachings grounded in the culture and surrounding nature, and a karaoke night filled the grounds with music and laughter.

This was my first time attending the annual Elders Gathering. I learned new teachings, made new contacts, and was filled with inspiration. Coming from Six Nations, I do not have very much knowledge of the Anishinaabe traditional teachings and appreciated hearing the teachings and stories from the community.

It was a beautiful event and I look forward to learning even more next year.

Are you a Sixties Scoop Survivor?

Are you a Sixties Scoop Survivor?  We are looking for you!

ANCFSAO and the Sixties Scoop Foundation are working collaboratively together to identify individuals that self-identify as Sixties Scoop survivors and would like an opportunity to have a direct say in the creation of their foundation. 

What is the Engagement Process?

The Sixties Scoop Engagement Process is to hear from as many Sixties Scoop survivors as possible, from across Canada and beyond about how the Foundation can best serve you.    We will be asking you what they want the Foundation to do to best serve you in recovery and reclamation.  How can the Foundation best support your goals? Your voice and your insight are critical in helping answer these questions. 

When and where are they happening?

From September 2019 to February 2020, we will be launching our Survivor Engagement Processes which includes 10 Sixties Scoop Survivors Engagement Sessions and an online engagement platform.  

Survivor Session # 1 Montreal, QC Sept. 21st
Survivor Session # 2 Winnipeg, MB Oct. 5th
Survivor Session # 3 Halifax, NS Nov. 9th
Survivor Session # 4 Toronto, ON Nov. 23rd
Survivor Session # 5 Calgary, AB Nov. 30th
Survivor Session # 6 Saskatoon, SK Dec. 7th
Survivor Session # 7 Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL Jan. 11th
Survivor Session # 8 Vancouver, BC Feb. 1st
Survivor Session # 9 Yellowknife, NWT Feb.  8th
Survivor Session # 10 Iqaluit, NU Feb. 15th

How can you participate in a Survivor Engagement session?

If you are interested in participating in one of the Survivor Engagement sessions, please visit to complete the registration form.

In addition, Sixties Scoop survivors with special circumstances can apply for travel assistance funds to attend the engagement session nearest to them. Priority will be given to applications demonstrating an explicit need for travel assistance.

If you would like to apply, please visit to complete the special circumstances travel assistance application. Funds to support travel are limited. Please apply as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

What if you cannot attend a Survivor Engagement sessions?

There is also an online engagement platform for the Sixties Scoop National Engagement Process. This is intended to gather the voices and recommendations from survivors who are unable to physically attend a Survivor Engagement session. This includes survivors who live outside of Canada and or are more comfortable with engaging in this format. The online engagement platform will be launched in October 2019. Sign up for the mailing list on the website for updates.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to visit the website: or contact

Reflections from the 7th Annual Youth-in-Care Camp

Written by Sherry Brown, Communications Coordinator for ANCFSAO

The 7th Annual Youth-in-Care Camp kicked off at YMCA Geneva Park on August 27th and ran until August 29th, 2019. It was the first time the Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies of Ontario (ANCFSAO) hosted the camp, and it was an extraordinary experience.

The event, intended for ages 9-13, brought together 63 Indigenous kids in care from 14 Ontario agencies (5 Indigenous Child Well-Being Agencies and 9 non-Indigenous agencies) for three days of connecting, learning, and engaging in culturally relevant activities. It began with an opening ceremony featuring a drum circle by Phil Jones and Dion Syrette and an introduction from ANCFSAO’s Elder-in-Residence, Danette Restoule.

Kids then disappeared into classrooms to create soapstone sculptures, learn lacrosse techniques, and master Okichitaw in ANCFSAO staff member Stephan Borau’s Indigenous martial arts class. Tim McGregor taught his group how to make rattles by stitching together wet hides and filling them with sand, and the classroom was shockingly quiet as the kids became absorbed in their creations.

Perry McLeod-Shabogesic taught a classroom full of kids his fluid drawing techniques as Jackie Labonte and Oliver Nobosin set up a sweat lodge by the lake with a group of little helpers. Three quiet sisters stayed close to one another as they tied strips of red, yellow, white, and black fabric to the intersecting saplings of the structure, eventually stepping back to smile at their work.

In the evening, kids, chaperones, and staff gathered around a fire for spooky stories and marshmallows, and the fire was lit again just a few hours later for the first sunrise ceremony. As the sun cast a golden reflection on the lake, Elders Ernest Beck and Gertie Beaucage offered wisdom and led the group in a water ceremony with the assistance of Liam and Olivia Restoule, a young brother and sister who came to the camp to assist in ceremonies.

That morning, those gathered for the ceremony were treated to a group of children singing a song with their backs turned to their audience to hide their nerves, as well as a throat-singing performance from one child whose enthusiasm inspired everyone, campers and staff alike.

The recurring joke that the kids enjoyed over the course of the camp was calling, “Taxi!” every time a Geneva Park golf cart drove past or delivered hot dogs and marshmallows to the campers gathered around the fire.

When the activities of the second day, which included making dreamcatchers and learning to exchange greetings in Ojibway, were finished, a mini pow-wow filled the camp with the sounds of drums and harmonizing voices. Hoop dancer Nimkii Osawamick inspired applause several times with his astounding storytelling through dance, and his mother Liz Osawamick captivated the young audience with a jingle dress dance. One little girl won a spot dance and proudly told everyone who would listen about her enormous $20 win. Phil and Dion invited a group of eager youths to join them in drumming and singing, and they were complemented by a second drumming group, Mixed Tribe, from the Peterborough area.

By the third day, when Phil moved a drum-making class to the auditorium because it was too popular, and when two days of lacrosse lessons from Cam Bomberry culminated in an epic final game, there was a noticeably different energy to the entire group than when the event began. One little girl stood out: she arrived at the registration desk silent and too shy to make eye contact, and by lunch on the second day was chatting with other children and even resource people and staff, excitedly running from one activity to the next with confidence and a brilliant smile.

The giveaway ceremony during the closing ceremony on the last day was many of the kids’ first, and campers were sent off with a miigwetch circle dance. As chaperones and children packed their bags and filed into cars and buses, ready to head home, excited squeals and laughter filled Geneva Park.

The camp was a success thanks to an overwhelmingly wonderful group of kids always eager to engage and learn, as well as outstanding resource people, behind-the-scenes staff members from ANCFSAO, and the amazing staff at YMCA Geneva Park. Thanks also go to OACAS for their sponsorship and assistance.

Indigenous kids from across Ontario came together to learn from one another, engage with their culture (some of them for the first time), and went home with beautiful drums, soapstone bears, dreamcatchers, paintings, rattles, and a new-found obsession with lacrosse and Okichitaw.

A second camp will be hosted by ANCFSAO at Geneva Park from November 1st to the 3rd for youth ages 13-17. Stay tuned for details.