Stella M. Bone
First and foremost, I want to acknowledge the land we are gathering on and pay respect to the Treaty 2 territory, Ebb & Flow First Nation, the Leadership, Community and its people. Meegwetch for welcoming us to your community. I also want to acknowledge all the Elders, Leadership from our West Region CFS First Nations and all in attendance today.
Welcome to the 40th year of existence for West Region Child & Family Services comprised of 9 First Nation communities.
As we reflect upon the years of service of the Agency particularly, where we come from, where we are, and where we are going – there is hope in finding better ways to assist children, families and communities in achieving wellness. The theme selected this year is “Sweetgrass: Body, Mind & Spirit – Together remain strong and connected”. The sweetgrass is a sacred plant and often referred to as intertwined with the 3 aspects of our being; mind, body and spirit. The braiding of the sweetgrass captures the reciprocal relationship and connectedness we have with each other to enhance our healing with its medicinal strands from Mother Earth. The sweet fragrance of the plant envelopes us with gratitude,
kindness and compassion from Mother Earth. As an Agency, we strive to maintain the good medicine in working with all whom we work with in delivering child and family services and programming. This is evident in the reports in the 2021-2022 AGM report. We have come a long way in the way we help our communities from the vision of the original Leadership and board members who voiced that “protecting our children entailed bringing our children home” by using protocols that they belonged at home with family members, extended family members, community members and within indigenous families. As part of the legislation of Bill C-92 and with communities taking over their legislation, jurisdiction and formulating their own laws, this is being achieved more than ever.
This year, especially following the years of the Covid 19 pandemic that brought many challenges, limitations, losses and hardship, we can begin our journey to connect with families again, in-person. I would like to acknowledge every staff member who continue to support children and families throughout these hard times. Throughout this time, we were faced with many challenges in our workplaces to continue to provide services and programs, however, through use of technology we were able to achieve overcoming barriers via zoom, team meetings and facetime. We remained connected and vigilant to the services and programs delivered by WRCFS despite provincial health regulations and continue to remain diligent in our awareness to covid and its variants.
Thank you to the Board of Directors for their much needed guidance, direction and strength throughout this time realizing that they too were bombarded by the pandemic crisis. Thank you, to staff for the courage to continue to do work amidst covid and ensuring health/safety at all times. We commend you as we move forward knowing that covid is still out there.
As you review the annual general report, you will see the highlights, statistics and programs of the community reports for year 21/22. Due to the pandemic and its restrictions, we were unable to do in-person AGM meetings but released the reports. This year, we looked forward to getting together in-person in Ebb & Flow First Nation to release this years report.
In closing, I want to express my sincere thanks to Senior Management, Management, Staff, Foster Parents, Respite Workers, and support workers for their hard work in caring for our children and families. For those who have lost loved ones, we hope that fond memories will comfort you.
May Creator Bless You and Your Home.
Board of Directors
I want to say thank you to the Leadership and community of Ebb and Flow.
First Nation for hosting this year’s special AGM “Like Sweetgrass, Body, Mind and Spirt, together remain strong and connected”. This annual general meeting marks the 40th year for West Region First Nation child welfare. Throughout all these years, we have experienced on-going positive delivery of programs and services in our communities. Certainly, some challenges were related to funding issues, but in light of that the agency has worked hard to maintain preventative and family enhancement programming within our communities. We are aware of the work and workloads of staff who continue to reduce the number of children coming into care and the amount of work to do reunification plans to bring them home to their families. This is the current work being done by our agency.
I want to commend all staff for their work during the pandemic and ensuring the wellbeing of children and I realize how hard it is in the post pandemic stage as we still experience Covid issues in our communities. Thank you for the work completed in keeping track of children, parent and foster parent vaccines ensuring safety for all of us.
I know there was tremendous work as chairperson, I was involved in the enhanced on-call systems in place for the past 2-3 years. I can appreciate all the work the agency does to keep children, families, and communities safe.
I am also aware that the agency staff provided on-line FE programs, Facebook contests, and FaceTime family visits when health guidelines were more stringent and when pandemic restrictions were heightened. It has been a long battle which creates variety of mental health and stress. As we slowly come out of this world, programs are much needed to continue to deal with the losses we suffered. But we all have to work together at the Tribal Council, Tribal Health and CFS to provide in-going support.
Thank the Senior Management and staff for their availability and compassion to ensure that Mino a yah dah services continued during these critical times. And I commend each of you for doing a good job in your communities. In Closing, thank you to board of directors – leaders of the community, elders, foster parents, support workers and agency workers for all you do to make our children lives better.
Last but not least, I also want to say that within the past several years we have had an enormous number of graduates from high school, college and university. This is very good to witness each year when agency honours their achievements. For those graduates, we honour you for your accomplishments!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS’ CHAIRPERSON
CHIEF CAMERON CATCHEWAY, SKOWNAN FIRST NATION