20
May
2020

QBOW Child and Family Service Agency COVID19 Response

SFNFCI has been reaching out to members in a Champion Stories blog series to highlight the great work that First Nation Child and Family Service Agencies do on a regular basis for their communities, while high-lighting their current responses to the worldwide pandemic of COVID19. QBOW Child and Family Service Agency is an organization that provides protection and prevention services to six First Nation communities within Saskatchewan: Piapot Cree Nation, Beardy’s & Okemasis Cree Nation, Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation, Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation, Wahpeton Dakota Nation and Wood Mountain Lakota Nation. Recently SFNFCI SDM Consultant Rachel Melymick spoke with Protection Supervisors Noreen Deegan and Remonda Gardipy, Prevention Supervisor Yvette Cappo and contracted researcher Raissa Graumans regarding QBOW CFS work during this COVID19 pandemic.

QBOW CFS have taken safety measures to keep staff and those they serve safe. Accommodations have been made to facilitate staff working from home. The focus is on safety: hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks have been put in every vehicle and office entrance. The physical office has been closed to the public, those employees that still require to be in the office follow new cleaning and precautionary procedures. QBOW administration staff receive all of the calls and then forward them to staff cell phones keeping community and clients still connected to services. Additionally signs have been posted on office doors to inform community how to contact staff.

Working with clients has been different when practicing social distancing, workers have been finding unique ways to have visits and check in with families. Some contact has been through video conferencing- Facetiming. Visits have been conducted outside of the home, to see the children outside of the house and maintaining space while still getting updates and ensuring safety. QBOW staff continue to advocate for those they work with and encourage families to work on areas of worries prior to them becoming a larger concern.

Partnerships within the community and other organizations have been strengthened. QBOW CFS has been working hand in hand with leadership in each community. During this COVID19 pandemic QBOW staff are aware and respect the different rules put in place by each community. Prevention programming has been working closely with community departments to ensure that everyone is aligning with the same goals during this COVID19. Having clear communication between Leadership, Health, Education and QBOW has been very important during this time. Through the open communication these partnerships have been cost sharing to ensure that each community is being supported. QBOW has also assisted with essential Covid-19 supplies for the communities, such as cleaning supplies. There has been a focus on food security as well.

With the collaboration of Education and QBOW there have been food boxes delivered to families and support to assist with the lunch program. Along with providing materials for children such as coloring activities, toys etc.

One of the concerns dealing with this COVID19 lock down is ensuring that families are in healthy relationships and bonding. The focus has been on keeping busy. A way to support communities is through online programing and, having contests that encourage healthy activities.

Some of the online contests were:

  • Mother/daughter- hair braiding
  • Cleanest yard
  • Re-enacting an old family photo
  • Sewing programs- moccasin making
  • Dakota Trilling
  • Dakota Eyakasha (war cry)
  • Garden projects- build your own garden
  • Elder bingo

 

The online sewing programs are for anyone interested. Materials are dropped off at an individual’s house and the lessons are online. Additional support is provided through Facebook, phone calls or checking in on clients (outside visits). Not only is this a fun experience for individuals but they are also learning and strengthening traditional skills.

QBOW prevention and cultural teams hosted a Wahpeton Dakota Nation online Trilling and Eyakasha (war cry) contest. This was hosted through Wahpeton Dakota Nation Facebook page where individuals could submit videos and winners were chosen for each category. The women trilling is a traditional Dakota sound used to encourage the men, warriors, and communities.  Women are the backbone of the community, so trilling naturally gives strength to the community.  Running this contest during the pandemic creates a link to cultural traditions and ancestors and how they used to provide encouragement to their communities in times of need. Although it is a fun and a contest with prizes, it also encourages women to practice and build that traditional skill and provides opportunities for connection and to give each other courage and encouragement during this difficult time. 

For the men, the Eyakasha is known as a war cry, but it’s really a yell of victory.  Traditionally the men's role was to protect the women and communities, to keep them safe and provide for those in need. This yell signifies their roles and responsibilities are being adhered to and that they are accomplishing things and overcoming challenges. The contest encourages men to gain a sense of identity and the power to overcome.

QBOW staff have been very busy with community programing and working with families through prevention and protection programs. They continue to look forward and plan for QBOW’s second Bring the Children Home Ride. This is a monumental task given the circumstances. The Ride committee continues to meet regularly by teleconference/skype and are moving forward with planning and preparations. The QBOW Ride committee is also working on contingency plans and alternative options that would follow provincial guidelines, respect the rules and conditions set up in individual First Nations, and align with social distancing guidelines. Right now the committee is working on a number of grants to support the Ride and to incorporate urban stops if possible.

QBOW CFS continues to focus on supporting communities and keeping children safe. The common theme from all of the staff I spoke with is that it has been through strong team work that programing and client support has been able to continue during this pandemic. QBOW CFS is a dedicated and strong team of individuals, thank you for sharing all of the great work that you do!

For more information on QBOW and who they serve visit the agency website: qbow.ca

And/or contact:

QBOW main office phone: 306-332-1842 Fax: 306-332-3921

Rachel Melymick, SFNFCI SDM Consultant

 

If you are interested in sharing stories from your organization/community please feel free to contact:

Rachel Melymick, SFNFCI SDM Consultant at 306-715-0800 and/or rachel@sfnfci.ca

 

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