When Indigenous children are brought into government care, it is common for them to be placed in non-Indigenous foster and group home settings. When these children are removed from their culture, they risk losing their connection to it. Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s Stand Up for Kids Project is working to address the risk of disconnection, with the Back to the Land program. This program serves to provide Indigenous children, youth, and families who are or have been involved in the child welfare system with opportunities to be immersed in their cultural traditions and to reconnect with their heritage in natural environments.
After being placed into a foster home with non-Indigenous parents, TIMOTHY’s social worker was concerned that as an Indigenous young person he might begin to lose his connection with his Anishinabek culture and heritage due to being away from those who are able to teach him important knowledge and skills.
Thanks to the Back to the Land program, TIMOTHY was given the financial support he needed to be able to attend an overnight Indigenous Spirit Culture Camp at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, facilitated by Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.
By providing TIMOTHY with the opportunity to attend camp, he was able to participate in activities such as a traditional sweat lodge ceremony and teachings about the medicine wheel, plant identification, and making shakers and wrapped collections of spiritually significant items called a personal bundle.
“I enjoyed the sweat lodge with the adults….I learned more about the medicine Wheel, the 4 seasons and Elements. I looked forward to Circle and group smudge each morning. I enjoyed teachings from facilitators and their sharing of wisdom. New skills I learned at camp were plant knowledge as well as learning how to make a shaker and my own personal bundle.” – TIMOTHY, Indigenous Spirit Culture Family Camp participant
The Stand Up for Kids Project continues to break the barriers to a brighter future and create new possibilities for children and youth at risk of entering, growing up in, and transitioning out of the child welfare system. To read more stories of impact, click here.
*Name and visual identity been protected.