Tikinagan Child and Family Services is celebrating Honouring Our Children Day on June 24, National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 and National Indigenous History Month throughout the month of June.
“In 2010 we started Honouring Our Children Day,” says Rachel Tinney, associate executive director with Tikinagan, during a June 12 phone interview. “A lot of times it was barbecues or events, some had bouncy houses, some had potlucks, some would just do games for the children. This year it is a lot more difficult with COVID-19, but we are still trying to do it on a smaller scale. Some of the ideas have been care packages insuring the children have something on hand that is closer to their age.”
Tinney says Tikinagan is also planning to put out a video on Honouring Our Children.
“We have asked staff, government leaders, community leaders and citizens to help spread word of our annual day of Honouring Our Children,” Tinney says.
Thelma Morris, executive director at Tikinagan, says many of Tikinagan’s values are reinforced in Honouring Our Children Day and National Indigenous Peoples Day.
“Our Elders share the history of our communities and the roots of our culture, providing us the wisdom, guidance, direction and encouragement,” Morris says. “Also, language is the keystone to cultural identity and to the preservation of culture. We strive to communicate effectively using and promoting our First Nation languages, both verbally and in written materials, with the children, families and communities we serve.”
Tikinagan states that its mission is about honouring Indigenous history, traditions and culture every day, 24-hours a day, while protecting children and supporting families.
“At Tikinagan, we have the responsibility of supporting our families that takes us as First Nations people back to the past to prepare ourselves for the future,” Morris says. “The month of June is an opportunity for everyone to
acknowledge the historical contributions of our peoples, the strength and resilience they show today and the hope we have for our children, families and communities to (be) healthy.”
Tinney adds that Tikinagan acknowledges Pride Month and Black Lives Matter.
“We provide support and resources for children, youth and families,” Tinney says. “We respect their choices and decisions and we just want to demonstrate our respect through humility and non-judgemental attitudes, effective listening, clear communication and recognition of the unique strengths of others. Let’s all work together to make a safe place for children and youth by respecting and honouring each other.”
Tikinagan previously recognized Children and Youth in Care Day on May 14 by raising awareness within and beyond the child welfare sector about the importance of caring for children and youth in/from care.
“As an agency, we recognize the importance of this day and honour the strength, bravery and resilience shown by children and youth in the face of difficult times,” Morris says. “We hope this day will de-stigmatize views about children and youth in and from care by increasing public awareness and understanding.
“I think it’s important we celebrate the amazing success of children and youth in care who have connections to our 30 First Nation communities.”
Tinney says Honouring Our Children Day has been “very successful,” with community citizens helping with the event.
“It’s gotten to be a bigger and bigger event, so other community resources become involved,” Tinney says. “I was at one last year in Deer Lake and NAPS (Nishnawbe Aski Police Service) was there helping out. They were handing out pencils and such and we had a candy throw, a lot of games, kayak races and all sorts of things. So it was a great event just to pull people together.”