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A Youth in Care Connects to His Family Traditions

In Fort Chipewyan, a young man in care experienced a series of cultural and community connections. One specific moment this young man, and the community members supporting him, will never forget was when they were out on the land together.

The older community men had invited this young man to go on a hunt with them. This opportunity was exciting, as it was the young man's first hunt. He was ready to spend time learning the land and cultural ways of surviving and hunting.

Throughout the hunt, the young man was attentive. He was looking forward to having an opportunity to shoot his first caribou, with the support of the men who had invited him on this trip. When the opportunity arose, the young man did, indeed, shoot his first caribou. This was a moment of pride for all those on the trip.

The caribou was shared with the community, including the young man's family and Elders. For his bravery and success, the young man was later given a ribbon shirt.

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Family Enhancement Provides Preventative Care and Support

Lori Stevens has a unique role within the ATC Child and Family Services department. Her position in Family Enhancement focuses on those clients who are not in need of intervention, but are facing challenges with family care. 

Often clients experience gaps and barriers, for example transportation to an addictions meeting or medical appointment, or providing food to their family when they are facing financial challenges. In her role, Lori works as a resource to support these families. She connects parents and youth living on their own with the services and support they need to build the skills they need for a health life. In Lori’s words, the work she does “keeps the families together before issues turn into big issues. We want to prevent everything from compounding to the point where intervention is required. Parents are the best ones to take care of their kids and we want to encourage and support that.”

She also works closely with the First Nations, supporting the work they do for the families in their communities. For example, she has worked with Candace Black, NNADAP Wellness Coordinator at Chipewyan Prairie First Nation Health Center, by putting together donation baskets with essential items like laundry and cleaning supplies, and fun kits for movie nights and bannock making.

“Collaborating with Lori and her role in Family Enhancement has been a great partnership. Many events I host are about healthier options; they’re family-oriented and group events. Every event I’ve held has included Lori. Her work has helped so many people in the community, from the smudge prayer kits she donated to my program, to the family door prizes she made, to collaborating with me on assisting clients to receive support for their residential school experiences. All of this would not be possible without the great support Lori has to offer.”

- Candace Black, NNADAP Wellness Coordinator Chipewyan Prairie First Nation Health Center

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Hosting Delegation: A Sharing Opportunity

Through Alberta Children’s Services, the Delegation Training Program is an opportunity to provide casework staff with the skills and knowledge they need to provide intervention, as required by the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

This training is 4 weeks long, mostly in-classroom training, with one module of working with Aboriginal Communities. ATC’s CFS has hosted the Aboriginal component of this training twice from our office in Fort McMurray. In total, 36 students have come to Fort McMurray.

The most recent training had 15 students from across Alberta. For the first teaching, Delegation students were taken to Fort McKay First Nation. There they learned about culture, language and traditions of the North. They learned about some of the unique aspects of the community, including the importance of air quality control, the environment around the community, and the progressive nature of Fort McKay First Nation leadership.

The group also toured the community, visiting the new youth centre, getting a glimpse of what it’s like to live in Fort McKay and cultural traditions of its people.

Providing an interactive platform for learning gave these students a better understanding of some of the challenges and realities faced by Indigenous peoples from Northern Alberta. As a result, caseworkers have a deeper understanding of their potential clients' experiences, offering better service to them.

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