Protection & Prevention Working Together

On March 9 & 10, 2016 SFNFCI hosted a meeting for Child and Family Services Agencies to share promising practices of how Prevention and Protection services and programs work together.

A total of 15 of the 17 Child and Family Services agencies were in attendance.  Seven (7) of the Child and Family Service Agencies made presentation on how their protection and prevention programs worked together, along with highlights on the culturally relevant programming provided in their communities.  These presentations proved that there is a lot of amazing and great work happening in our First Nations communities to support families and children.

SFNFCI invited two out-of-province special guest presenters to this meeting to share their best practices on culturally relevant family preservation and prevention services along with a program that focuses on removing the parents from the home instead of children.

Carrier Sekani Family Services from British Columbia came to speak on how their agency focuses fully on community and family preservation and prevention services.

Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Family and Community Wellness Centre from Manitoba came to present their program on removing parents from the home instead of the children.

Mary Teegee & Heather Broughton shared their experiences in developing and implementing programs and services at Carrier Sekani Family Services.

Mary is the Executive Director of Child and Family Services at Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) in Prince George, BC.  She oversees the provincially delegated programs, youth services, family preservation, maternal child health, and the Highway of Tears Initiative as well as violence prevention programs.  Mary is Gitk’san and Carrier from Takla Lake First Nation; a proud member of the Luxgaboo Wolf Clan and she holds the Hereditary Chiefs name Maaxswxw Gibuu (White Wolf). She has been raised to live her culture, customs, laws and traditions.  Mary has long espoused that in order for nations to be revitalized; nations have to heal from the atrocities that occurred through colonization. She also maintains that all services, programs and initiatives developed to benefit First Nations have to be built on a cultural foundation.  She advocates that healing and wellness has to be a priority for Leaders.

Heather Broughton, Med Counselling, is currently working at Carrier Sekani Family Services as an Intensive Family Preservation Clinician.  It is in this position where Heather’s passions for advocating for First Nations people and applying culturally relevant counselling have intertwined.  Heather has had the privilege of working with over 20 families referred to Intensive Family Preservation Services to prevent the out of home placement of children.

Imagining Child Welfare as a “continuum of care” with one end of the continuum focusing solely on preservation, prevention and strengthening families and communities and the other end of the continuum focusing on high risk child protection and safety services, Carrier Sekani Family Services focuses all of their efforts and energies on family preservation and prevention services.

Some of the key messages from Carrier Sekani Family Services shared were:

  • They became accredited in their Health and Family Services last year
  • Research is key to the development and delivery of all community specific culturally based programs and services.  They use the “Carrier Sekani Life Cycle Model” in their programs that consist of Creator, Conception, Prenatal Birth, Early Years, Puberty, Young Adult, Adult and Elder teachings.
  • They have developed curriculum with UBC on Alternative Dispute Resolution in Family Law that is reflective of their territory and peoples – 4 clans and related ceremonies.
  • Carrier Sekani Family Services has developed and deliver their own Family Justice Program based on their own laws.  This includes a Family Law Mediator, delivery of family preservation services, on-reserve maternal child health services based on culture and traditions and have research project called “Our Family, Our Children, Our Law” that is comprised of 26 focus groups that are reviewing child rearing practices and family governance laws.  This research will further develop culturally relevant programs and services for their communities.
  • Most importantly, Carrier Sekani Family Services if remaining a “Made in BC” model and are working to represent and support their communities, families and children based on their culturally relevant practices, knowledge and laws.


Felix Walker has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Family & Community Wellness Centre since 2001.  Under his leadership the Centre’s mandate to provide holistic and integrated approached to the health-related and child and family services in Nelson House has become a reality.  The Centre and its Health Division and CFS Division employ 250 people and provide services to the community of Nelson House and members of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation throughout Manitoba.  The Centre also acts as a Designated Intake Agency in Thompson where it is responsible for intaking, assessing, investigating and managing child abuse cases in the vast Burntwood region of Northern Manitoba.

Felix Walker came to talk to us about his organization in Manitoba. Some of his key messages included:

  • Their mission is to promote, nurture and foster a sense of holistic wellness through the provision of meaningful, community based and culturally appropriate activities in a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment.
  • The Centre's range of programs and services has been developed in consultation with the community.
  • They have been successful in removing parents from the home instead of children when a protection matter arises in their communities.  It is important to recognize that the children are still in care when this occurs, however, the removal of the parents from the home is less traumatic.  Children still have a caregiver with them.  Parents are offered support services and programs to help them return to the home, and upon return, continued support is provided for the family.
  • Felix also spoke about how important it is to invest in their staff.  They make an effort to build their capacity by supporting staff to further their education.  This investment is reflective in the community as a whole with the ability to retain workers who already live and are invested in their community.


SFNFCI would like to thank everyone for their participation and feedback over the two days.  We look forward to future meetings where we can continue to enhance how protection and prevention work together.

Some feedback received about this meeting:

"I will continue reclaiming our sacred traditional teachings to improve the quality of lives for families.  Land based teachings is the only way to decolonize our families by participating in cultural events.  Our land is our therapy.  Let's come together to showcase the cultural traditional activities that works in our communities to improve the health and well-being and positive engagements for families/children to reclaim our sacred values."

- Margaret Rose McIntyre, Prevention Worker, English River First Nation

"This gave me an opportunity to see where I can take my last practicum for Social Work.  I am interested in how Nelson House takes the parents out of the home instead of the children.  I hope Saskatchewan adopts the Nelson House technique of child care, it will be less traumatizing for children and this way will motivate the parents to better themselves faster."

- Sauvana Rabbitskin, Practicum Student Prevention, Agency Chiefs Child and Family Services

"It (Agency Presentations) will benefit me / our agency by creating networking with other Child and Family Services Agencies in regards to new initiatives."

- Joan Constant, Executive Director Wahkotowin Child and Family Services

Tischa Mason, Executive Director

2 Comment


Posted By: Tischa Mason| Post Date: April 6, 2016 at 03:48 pm

Thank you for the correction Mary! I have fixed it. Tischa

Posted By: Mary Rose Opekokew| Post Date: April 6, 2016 at 03:39 pm

Hi just a note about comments -- Our names got mixed up that is Margaret Rose McIntyre who made that awesome comment -- she is still thrilled to know her words are being read -- told her she said it so well.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *