M’CHIGEENG FN – The multi-year efforts of United Chiefs and Council of Mnidoo Mnising tribal council’s initiative known as “Maamwi Nadamaadaa – Let’s Work Together” is taking yet another giant step forward in social innovation: almost a dozen organizational members and other community service agencies gathered Nov. 22, 2013 at the Tribal Council office to publicly declare their commitment towards seamless service for UCCMM community members.
Several organizations and service departments have already committed to working together by signing an official Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) – and now the critical next steps of implementation will start to unfold. Determining how the “nuts and bolts” of how such a model can be created was the topic of discussion at the Nov. 22nd Maamwi Nadamaadaa meeting, coming up with ways on how individual organizational processes can be turned into professional collaboration practices will be this group’s next challenge.
“The idea for an improved and integrated holistic service integration model was really inspired a number of years ago when the Tribal Council began hosting several conferences on community engagement and community mobilization,” says Beverley Roy-Carter, Director of Business and Training at Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute (KTEI). “ Then, the opportunity for the actual implementation of such a service model presented itself with the approval of KTEI’s pilot essential skills project called the Anishinabek Identity, Mind and Spirit (A.I.M.S.) essential skills pilot program.”
Roy-Carter explains how the Maamwi Nadamaadaa concept will be tested through the experiences of at least 20 A.I.M.S. essential skills students in the next two incoming intakes of the program:
“Let’s say, as an example, a student confides in a teacher or an Elder in our school that they want some help with overcoming a substance abuse problem. What we don’t want to happen is for this student to get frustrated or give up on trying to find the right kind of help on their own, even with the help of a teacher or Elder.
“Instead, we’re trying to come up with a way to make sure a student in this example can get the right kind of help at the right time – we want to stop the ‘silo’ effect of each of our agencies trying to solve a problem on their own. So far, we’ve looked at a couple of other examples of this kind of work which is happening more and more in Ontario – it is often called ‘community mobilization’.
“What we’ve learned and what what many of these other models do, for example, is once all the partners agree in a weekly meeting that an emergency situation before them potentially involves the help of at least two or more agencies, then an individual case number is assigned to ensure confidentiality (no names or personal information is disclosed at the weekly meetings). Then, within a certain time, frame, say 48 hours afterwards, the various front line workers report back with that same case number to report on their plan of action, or plan of care.
“So what happens over the long term is that better communication and services will be developed for community members – and our health service providers, the police, schools, and child and family service workers, etc. are no longer working in isolation of each other. A main goal of our model, which will slightly be different than others we’ve seen in the Province, is that we want to make sure our Anishinabek ways are brought into the plans of care, or plans of action, too when needed — because we believe that our culture and traditions can help nurture us and keep our spirits healthy.”
Hazel Recollet, CEO of the Tribal Council has been a key leader in pushing the need for a holistic and culturally-based service integration model forward for the last year and a half.
“Service providers in our UCCMM communities must now raise the bar yet again in service standard excellence,” she says. “It is no longer effective or efficient for us as organizations in our territory to work in insolation of one another. We simply owe it to our community members to come up with new and better ways of providing the best service possible since we as organization all have the same overarching goals of contributing to community health, wellness and prosperity”.
Stephanie Roy, Executive Director of KTEI, is pleased to see social innovation starting to happen for Manitoulin’s First Nations.
“We know for a fact that many of our youth and adult students have set for themselves great educational and career goals. But what often happens is that we as service providers are not always aware of, or privy to, other personal challenges that a student may be facing. Unfortunately, we in education often hear about those challenges after the fact, and in many cases, students will leave their educational path for reasons other than academic barriers.”
To date, the following programs and organizations in the Sudbury – Manitoulin district have already signed the Memorandum of Agreement which is formally called “Maamwi Nadamadaa: Integrated Service Excellence in Action!”:
UCCM Anishnaabe Police, Kina Gbezhgomi Child and Family Services, Ontario March of Dimes, M’Chigeeng First Nation Training Hub, M’Chigeeng First Nation Health Centre, Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, UCCMM Justice Program, UCCCMM Gwekwaadziwin Project, UCCMM Labour Market Project, UCCMM Lands and Resources, Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute.
Membership in the MOA is purely voluntary at this time. The MOA recognizes and respects individual organizational mandates and priorities that each signatory already has, and is not intended to dramatically change the core or scope of services already provided – just working together to find better ways of providing service.
Any organization or service in the Manitoulin area is encouraged to learn more about becoming part of this social innovation project, and new organizations and services are welcome to join at any time. For more information on Maamwi Nadamadaa or the A.I.M.S. Essential Skills pilot project, call the UCCMM Tribal Council administration office at 705.377.5307 or Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute at 705-377-4342.