By David Briggs
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Niijaansinaanik Child and Family Services is working to create a new standardized approach to providing Indigenous Child, Youth, and Family Well-Being services by developing the Orange Standard Service Delivery Model, and this morning the agency launched the program at a conference held at the Best Western on Lakeshore in North Bay.
The Orange Standard approach will provide prevention and protection services to youth, children and families while emphasizing First Nations’ culture. “The Orange Standard will bring back our traditional ways and teachings of our people that were lost upon contact,” said Niijaansinaanik Head Elder Joyce Tabobondung.
See: Niijaansinaanik children to get ‘Orange Standard’ of care
Niijaansinaanik Child and Family Services is based in the Dokis First Nation but also serves the Nations of Wasauksing, Magnetawan, Henvey Inlet, Shawanaga and Wahnapitae. Executive director Joanne Koehler mentioned that the Orange Standard Service model is “something that we’re developing ourselves,” a new initiative, and “as it’s developed, we’re very open to sharing with other First
Nations and other Indigenous agencies.”
“It’s in the beginning stages,” she explained, “and we’ll be developing the framework this year.” Koehler mentioned that the best way to improve services is to ensure the voices of First Nation communities are heard and together with the provincial government can make changes to Indigenous child and family services.
“We want them to have a voice,” she emphasized, “because in child welfare, Indigenous people have not had a voice, and we are reversing that. It is their voice that will create and drive the standard of excellence.”
She noted the “provincial government is open to our process that we’re developing” and this current project has been funded by the federal government. “Service to Indigenous people is different,”
she said, and the Orange Standard approach aims to create a more equitable standard of care and service. “This new model will be developed with First Nations communities, and that is what’s going to make a difference.”
The care of children is “the responsibility of the entire community,” said board of directors president, Marnie Anderson, of the Niijaansinaanik Child and Family Services, and the new initiative will continue the agencies “holistic” approach “to children’s safety and well-being.”
She noted that often, “when child welfare is thought about, the spiritual piece is left out, and what we have done and strive to do is to make sure that holistic health and well-being is there for families.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.