SFNFCI 1st Annual Conference Highlights

SFNFCI hosted its first annual First Nations Child Welfare Conference on January 30 & 31, 2019.  The theme was “Making a difference in the lives of Indigenous children, youth and families”.  Participants had the opportunity to come together to share best practices in prevention programming, learn from others and reflect on how to make a difference in the day to day work.

The Conference Highlights included:

Over 350+ people attended and/or participated











The conference schedule included:

  • 4 Guest Speakers; 21 Break Out Sessions; 4 Panel Presentations

  • Dog Therapy Room & Self Care Sessions – Complimentary Reiki Treatments & Massage Therapy

  • Cultural Components; Pipe Ceremony, Grand Entry, Opening/Closing Ceremonies, Traditional Drummers, Singers, Dancers and the Elders / Knowledge Keepers Lounge

  • Youth Presentations and Panel Discussions

  • Banquet and Indigenous Cultural Arts Showcase of Talent

  • 50/50 Winning Ticket Unclaimed, RED Ticket #0787356 Prize $908.50, To Claim Phone 306-373-2874 ask for Joseph or Patricia

This conference was timely as a reminder of the vision as the landscape for First Nations Child Welfare in Saskatchewan and in Canada is shifting. 

The vision for First Nations Child Well-Being is to provide supports that help to strengthen families and communities so that children can remain with their families. 

The political landscape is shifting with a pending Federal First Nations Child Well-Being legislation to be announced.  This conference brought together the Saskatchewan region to hear from youth, Elders, practitioners, and other subject matter experts to learn more and reflect on how change will impact us as individuals and organizations. 

Preparing for Change…

Practices are also shifting with an increase in prevention, intervention and cultural preservation programming so that the vision can be met.  Change in practices for child well-being provides an opportunity to heal children, families, and communities.  However, change can also bring about discomfort in the transition process such as having to change the way a worker is used to doing things.  It is important to note that sometimes when we experience change there might be an increase in misunderstandings, miscommunication, and/or having different expectations on how to achieve outcomes during a change period. 

While we experience change, it is even more important that we take the time to check-in with ourselves and others on our thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and health.  Workers who provide services to children, youth and families need to be healthy and demonstrate positive behaviours. This was a message from both the youth and Elders that were part of the conference.  Change cannot occur if we are content with the status quo.  Success with the change in legislation and practices will be based on our ability, both as an individual and when representing an organization, to create and maintain our relationships so that services to children, youth and families is not interrupted.  Communication is critical. 

These changes may also impact workers as there could be shifts in evaluation and reporting.  We will begin moving toward strength-based indicators and measures.  We have the opportunity to honour the First Nations voices through community needs assessment to help agencies determine the needs-based programs and services required to achieve a healthy community where children can remain with families.  First Nations community members such as Elders, Youth and Families will have an opportunity to define what a healthy and successful community looks like and will develop baseline indicators to measure success against. 

To learn about the Prevention Policies developed in Saskatchewan click:

~SK First Nations Prevention Policies & Standards~

Proactively participating in change

This was the first annual conference hosted by SFNFCI that provided a showcase of the best practices in prevention programming and services in Saskatchewan.  There was a request to provide more opportunities to learn from each other and allow longer networking time during presentations.  SFNFCI has heard this feedback and will revise how the agenda looks next year.

As workers, we can participate in change and continue to learn from each other.  To understand these changing times we need to continue:

Truth Telling & Listening - speaking from our authentic First Nations voice honouring our Elders, youth, families and First Nations agency worker's experiences.  Hearing the experiences and messages from First Nations workers, children, families, and communities. 

Acknowledging our historical experiences that have impacted First Nations Child and Family Well-Being and healing from these experiences. 

Restoring our First Nations way of life by developing language and lands-based programming and culturally relevant practices aligned with cultural indicators for measuring success and establishing collaborative partnerships moving forward for delivery.

Relating to one another as individuals, workers, parents/family members and organizations who are doing the best to keep children safe and with their families. 

There were a lot of great speakers and presenters at this conference.  All participants were asked to reflect on their conference sessions and determine what they can do as:

  • An Individual – what knowledge, skill, attitude or behaviour can change to enhance working together through change?

  • In the job you do – what behaviours, attitudes or practices can shift to enhance and encourage collaborative and cooperative relationships?

  • Within your organization – what information can you take back to share with others to make a difference during this exciting time of change?

  • Within your community – how can you be an advocate for change and create some awareness, provide some understanding, and be a leader in explaining why this change is positive and will improve the lives of First Nations children, youth, families, and communities?

I would like to acknowledge and thank:

  1. The Elders and helpers for their guidance on protocols and prayers

  2. Sponsors – Indigenous Services Canada SK Region and SK Ministry of Social Services for their funding for this conference

  3. The Saskatoon Inn staff – great service for meals and tech support

  4. Doug Cuthand for filming the sessions

  5. The Vendors and Information Table folk for providing resources and information for conference participants

  6. Speakers, Presenters, and Youth – for sharing their knowledge, experiences, and vision for the future

  7. Conference participants who have learned, shared and made new connections

  8. Cal Arcand and Krystal Pederson for being the co-MC’s of the conference and showcase

  9. Volunteers who helped with moderating sessions, registration, and the showcase

  10. SFNFCI Staff – all the extra hours and weekends to help make this conference a success for participants

The success of this conference was based on everyone coming together to celebrate the good work we are already doing in Saskatchewan as well as to collaborate on opportunities for the future.

Tischa Mason, Executive Director

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