NEWS RELEASE: Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Territory
The Indigenous Child & Family Services Directors – Our Children Our Way Society warmly welcomes 1,100 delegates to the second annual Our Children Our Way conference, held October 16-18 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
The conference provides a space for collaboration, relationship building, and knowledge exchange among Indigenous child and family service providers and communities. Presenters will provide 98 breakout sessions focused on five key areas: best practice; policy; community healing; operational development; and jurisdictional pathways. Plenary panels will focus on preserving cultural identity for children in care, and on healing in, speaking out and speaking up. Dr. Cindy Blackstock will provide the keynote address. Madelaine (Strong Earth Woman) McCallum and Kehew (Strong Bear Woman) Roussel are the masters of ceremony.
Members of the Squamish Nation and Ayás Mén̓men Child & Family Services opened the conference and welcomed the delegates to the Squamish territory. Following the Squamish Longhouse tradition, they recognized 12 witnesses to look after the family’s feelings over the course of the conference, and shared songs to welcome, honour, cleanse, and fortify the delegates.
On Wednesday afternoon, a ceremony will be held to honour the work of Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society; Mary Teegee, Chair of the Our Children Our Way Society; and Stephanie Wellman, Director of Social Development with the Assembly of First Nations. Cindy, Mary, and Stephanie have worked tirelessly to demonstrate and resolve discrimination against First Nations children and families.
Jennifer Chuckry, Executive Director of the Our Children Our Way Secretariat, invited the delegates to “come together to connect with our hearts on behalf of our children, youth, young adults and families.”
Mary Teegee, Chair of the Our Children Our Way Society, reminded the delegates that “you already have within you the tools you need—compassion, Indigenous emotional intelligence, Indigenous ways of being and knowing, resilience, spirituality, humour, and the guidance of our ancestors—to do this work. With these gifts, we are privileged and honoured because we have the capacity to bring real change and to make our children’s lives better.”
For further comment, please contact: Mary Teegee, Chair, Our Children Our Way Society, Phone: 250-612-8710