How best to support Indigenous children, youth and families in dealing with COVID-19 impacts?

Four Indigenous child-welfare experts to offer guidance in free workshop series happening Nov. 2-10.

COVID-19’s impact on Indigenous children, youth, and families will be the focus of a free online workshop series, scheduled for November 2-10. 

Hosted by the Child Welfare League of Canada (CWLC), the four-part series is designed for families and frontline practitioners, says Camille Breton Skagen, CWLC’s project manager. 

“Vulnerable families are at higher risk of being in contact with child-welfare systems, especially during the pandemic,” says Breton Skagen.

“This includes Indigenous First Nations populations, Black racialized populations, children and youth with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ population. 

“We really want to provide guidance [to] … foster families, alternative caregivers, governments … social workers, communities, [on] how they can reach out and support Indigenous children, youth, and their families.” 

The series — titled “Indigenous Children, Youth and Families and Covid-19 Response and Recovery” — will feature an all-Indigenous line-up of child-welfare experts from across the country, says Breton Skagen.

Drawing from their own lived experiences, speakers will cover four topics (click the links below to register).

On Nov. 2, Gabrielle Lindstrom will present on “challenging deficit-based approaches in social work education.” She works as an educational development consultant at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary, and she specializes in Indigenous ways of knowing.

Decisions to apprehend children are too often driven by racism and neocolonialism — or “the use of economic, political, cultural or other pressures to control or influence Indigenous nations,” she told IndigiNews earlier this year.

Frank Shannon of the Haida Nations, Eagle clan, will present on the impacts of traumatic events on the brain on Nov. 4.

Nakuset — who is Cree, and works as the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montréal — will present on the challenges with youth protection in Montréal on Nov. 9.  And Beverly Keeshig-Soonias of Chippewas of Nawash First Nation will speak to “joining the village to raise the child” on Nov. 10.  

Breton Skagen says the goal was to “feature experts with lived experience [and] provide workshop presentations that center on … trauma-informed, anti-oppressive and anti-racist approaches to supporting Indigenous children and families through the pandemic.”

This is the third workshop series hosted by CWLC and partners with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada. It’s part of  “The Strength of Family and Connections” project which aims “to promote trauma-informed responses to child maltreatment that encourage social inclusion, and connections to family, community and culture, mental health and child safety.”

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