* The Mnidoo Mnising Anishinabek Kinoomaage Gamig drum group recited the preamble Ngo Dwe Waangizid to the Chi-Naaknegewin – the Anishinabek Nation Constitution. Elder Gordon Waindubence recorded a version that can be heard on soundcloud here https://soundcloud.com/anishinabek-nation/ngo-dwe-waangizid-anishinaabe
By Adrienne Pelletier and Marci Becking
M’CHIGEENG FIRST NATION – Kina Gbezhgomi Child and Family Services celebrated their official designation with a ceremony and event on April 14 at the M’Chigeeng Community Complex.
Executive Director of KGCFS, Denise Morrow says that this designation is one step towards self-determination – the full recognition of jurisdiction at the First Nation level.
“We look forward to the journey ahead of us and working with our partner First Nations,” said Morrow.
Chief Joe Hare of M’Chigeeng says it took over 20 years for this day to arrive.
“Responsibility is enlisted in all of us to take care of our children – they are all our responsibility.
Wikwemikong’s Ogimaa Peltier said that the Creator gave us our children. We have to teach our children how to live a good life.
“We are now fully taking the responsibility back for our children,” said Ogimaa Peltier. “A day to look forward to is when our children are all back in their homes. We’ve already seen the changes at Kina Gbezhogmi since they’ve been mandated. They are maintaining the family relationship and children are staying in the home.”
Zhiibaahaasing First Nation Ogimaa Irene Kells says that this has been a long time coming.
“This is what we can do when there is one mind – I, too have seen the changes already with Kina Gbezhgomi.”
Former Children’s Aid Society Executive Director for Sudbury and Manitoulin Colette Prevost said to celebration participants that she was “humbled by your determination”.
“Moral courage, commitment to your principles and the ability to do what is right regardless of the threat and challenges that you have faced,” said Prevost.
Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee said that the journey we are on is not over.
“We need total jurisdiction of our children,” said Madahbee. “Our challenge will be to reach out and work with our citizens in the urban areas. They are part of our Nations’ jurisdiction.”
“This designation is an interim step to where we want to go with regards to our children – total jurisdiction,” said Grand Council Chief speaking about the Anishinabek Nation establishing its own Child Well-Being Law.
For more than 20 years, Kina Gbezhgomi has been working towards assuming full and complete responsibility of child welfare services for indigenous children and families. The vision has always been to ensure that their children are protected “and stay connected with their culture, language and community while strengthening family and community relationships.”
Kina Gbezhgomi represents Whitefish River, Aundeck Omni Kaning, Sheguiandah, M’Chigeeng, Sheshegwaning, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation and Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve. Kina Gbezhgomi Child and Family Services. www.kgcfs.org