Three children display the #ISeeYou cutouts they coloured and decorated during the Oct. 12 launch of Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and the Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay’s Step Up 2017 Campaign at Kokum’s Place in the Limbrick neighbourhood of Thunder Bay.

By Rick Garrick

THUNDER BAY –Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and the Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay are recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month through the Step Up 2017 Campaign, which includes the launch of the #ISeeYou Project on Oct. 12.

“We do this to really remind the communities to look out for children and youth,” says Darcia Borg, executive director of Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and a Red Rock Indian Band citizen. “It’s really important that we report any suspicions that a child may be abused, neglected or may be in need of protection.”

The #ISeeYou Project launch was held at Kokum’s Place, a Dilico service site that opened this past February to offer a holistic healing community program in the Limbrick Place neighbourhood in Thunder Bay. Dilico’s service area ranges from Michipicoten in the east to Fort William in the west to Long Lake #58 in the north.

“It’s really a safe place for us to engage the youth and parents,” Borg says. “We find that we have been very well received there. We have families that are dropping in and really feeling welcome.”

The #ISeeYou Project provides an opportunity for students, children and youth to design a colourful cutout of themselves while participating in a creative art project where they explore and visually express what makes them unique as individuals, while building self-esteem and confidence.

“The theme of this year’s Step Up campaign poses a very important question — ‘Do you see us,’” Borg says. “Children and youth need to know we are here to support them and that as a community we are watching out for them. Step Up continues to be a very integral community campaign that reminds us that we can all help strengthen families and prevent child abuse.”

Community members are also encouraged to participate in the annual Go Purple for Prevention Day, scheduled for Oct. 24, by wearing purple and hosting a Go Purple event.

“People are really getting involved as a community,” Borg says about Go Purple for Prevention Day. “We’ve heard that people are having bake sales, children’s activities. And through that, they provide funding for both Dilico and Children’s Aid (Society of the District of Thunder Bay) through our foundations.”

A Step Up Colouring Station is also planned for Oct. 15, from 11 to 4 p.m. at the Intercity Shopping Centre, for children and youth to join Dilico and the Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay representatives to colour and decorate their own #ISeeYou cutout.

“We work with all Indigenous peoples in Thunder Bay and the district,” Borg says. “At any given time, we are working with (people from) up to 100 First Nations in Thunder Bay.”

Brad Bain, executive director of the Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay, says it is everyone’s duty to report a suspicion that a child may be abused, neglected or may be in need of protection.

“By stepping up, adults can help a child or give a family in crisis the support they need,” Bain says. “It’s also important to remember that it’s not up to individuals to determine if a child is experiencing abuse. If you have concerns about a child, please call Dilico or the Children’s Aid Society.”

Child abuse includes physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect.

People can contact Dilico at 1-855-623-8511 or 807-623-8511 or the Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay at 1-800-465-3905 or 807-343-6100.