TOUCHSTONES OF HOPE
The Touchstones of Hope are a set of principles to guide a reconciliation process for those involved in Indigenous child welfare activities. They are also transferable across a variety of areas, including health care, education and research. The movement fosters relationship building and provides opportunities to have respectful and truthful conversations about child welfare in order to create a new reality for Indigenous children. This includes concrete next steps for moving forward together so that all Indigenous children are healthy and living with dignity and respect.
In 2008, NIFCS hosted the first Touchstone of Hope workshop for the North in Prince Rupert. This event brought a very diverse group of individuals together, including members from all of the Aboriginal communities, and other partners and professionals from a wide cross-section of the Northwest communities. Two additional community sessions were held in 2009 in terrace and 2011 in Prince Rupert. Those sessions were well attended with up to sixty participants.
“As a result of attending the Touchstones of Hope workshop, the Grandmothers came up with our very own “pathways” model to describe who we are. This model has been presented at our community forum, sponsored by the Lax kw’alaams Band, NIFCS, and the Coast Tsimshian AcademyAt the Terrace and Prince Rupert forums, we were invited to talk about customary ways of caretaking and custom adoption. Custom adoption as it is defined to us as Lax kw’alaams people is when a clan member from the same group or tribe or a family member who belongs to the tribe takes another child into their home. A family member who takes the child can be a family member, aunt, or uncle of the child. They can be related maternally or from the father’s side. The child is taken in for various reasons. At the Terrace forum, our eldest member, Marion Musgrave, described her personal experience with custom adoption and the teachings she learned from her grandmother.” – Grandmother’s group
Valuable ideas and recommendations from these sessions have informed NIFCS strategic and service planning and it is critical to continue to bring together the broad members surrounding the children and youth across the member Nations so that they are active participants in co-creating and building strength and resiliency within their own nations and families.
The following 5 principles that have emerged from the local “Touchstones of Hope” gatherings will guide the continued efforts of everything that NIFCS does.
NIFCS is committed to continue this community wide process and dialogue with the key theme identified for “Touchstones of Hope 2017” as “Truth Telling”- telling the story of child welfare as it has affected Indigenous children, youth and families.
Stay tuned for the upcoming opportunities to come together as a community again.