MLTC CFS celebrates 20 years

The Meadow Lake Tribal Council’s Child and Family Services program celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special event at PineRidge Ford Place on Flying Dust First Nation Sept. 10. Here, members of the Waterhen Lake Juniors drum group perform a traditional song to kick off the event.

The Meadow Lake Tribal Council’s Child and Family Services program celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special event at PineRidge Ford Place on Flying Dust First Nation Sept. 10. Here, members of the Waterhen Lake Juniors drum group perform a traditional song to kick off the event.

by Phil Ambroziak

In order to achieve a brighter tomorrow, the first spark of light must be ignited today. In the case of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, however, the future of its children and its families has been growing in radiance for the last 20 years.

That was the general message shared by those who attended a recent 20th anniversary celebration for MLTC’s Child and Family Services (CFS) program. The gathering was held Sept. 10 at PineRidge Ford Place on Flying Dust First Nation and featured appearances by long-time CFS employees as well as those who helped get the program off the ground two decades ago.

Among these pioneers was Rebecca Elder who shared fond memories of the program’s early days.

“I’m so happy to be here today,” Elder told the small crowd on hand. “This celebration is a testimony to all of you. Your strength has helped to build CFS and, although it can be a difficult and challenging job at times, it’s also one of the best jobs you can have when things go well.”

Like other such organization’s, MLTC’s CFS program is designed to better the well being of individuals who come from unfortunate situations – environmental or biological. In the case of children, they could come from abusive or neglectful homes, or live in very poor and dangerous communities. That’s why Elder stressed how important it was for the program to be developed for MLTC members by MLTC members. This, she said, was the only way it was ever going to work or hold any credibility.

“Those early meetings required a lot of listening and a lot of explaining with regard to what we wanted to do and what we needed to do,” she continued.

First and foremost, she added, was the need to help entire families, not just children.
“We took a holistic approach – reaching out to embrace all families,” she said. “It gives me great satisfaction and pleasure to know the program we built is still going and doing more than it ever has before.”

MLTC director of health and social development Flora Fiddler agreed with Elder’s outlook, stating it was essential entire communities heal – whether it be from addictions, the traumas associated with the residential school system or other issues – if children were ever to have opportunities and if they were ever going to embrace the traditions of their people.

“Back then, the chiefs and communities had a vision – that vision included a need to look after us in order for us to look after our children,” Fiddler said. “We realized we needed to heal or else we would continue to have issues with our children. In these last 20 years, we have survived and many of our communities are healing.”

Fiddler noted many young people are now showing an interest in First Nations traditions while CFS itself has been able to move more toward a position of prevention rather than protection.
Also in attendance was Kim Taylor, director of First Nations and Métis Services with the provincial Ministry of Social Services.

“Twenty years is a significant amount of time and I’m honoured to recognize your organization’s proud history and truly commend you and your communities for the work you’ve done,” Taylor said. “The ministry knows we can’t make real and lasting change on our own. Our children are our most valuable possessions, but they’re also our most vulnerable. The hard work and dedication you’ve put into improving opportunities for children and families in your communities is very inspiring.”

While much of last week’s celebration focused on the CFS program’s history, supervisor Pearl Cardinal addressed the future. Included among CFS’ upcoming plans and initiatives, Cardinal said, will be: the development of four more safe homes in four communities; ongoing training and support for family support workers in life skills workshops, parenting skills and support groups; ongoing engagement of elders in prevention activities; continued support for at-risk families; strengthening relationships with schools through regular meetings; culture camps and more.

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Comments
One Response to “MLTC CFS celebrates 20 years”
  1. Tischa says:

    Congratulations MLTC CFS on your milestone anniversary and good work you do for your communities!

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