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Feathers of Hope

Child Welfare Forum (2015)

The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth held a forum focused on the Indigenous young people’s lived experiences within the child welfare system: Thus becoming known as Feathers of Hope Child Welfare.

The child welfare forum was created based off a recommendation from youth in the Feathers of Hope: A First Nations Action Plan. The forum took place on May 19-23, 2015, approximately 100 young people from northern and remote communities attended the forum. The forum took place at the Best Western Nor’ Wester Hotel & Conference Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The purpose of the forum was to create a platform for the young people to share their lived experiences, amplify their authentic voice and create opportunities for change within the child welfare system for this generation and generations to come.

The key message that arose from the child welfare forum is that young people need to be at the table to discuss all conversations that revolve children and youth. The discussions needs to incorporate all levels of operation, children, youth, First Nation communities, child welfare sector and government in order to fully understand the needs of children and families involved within the child welfare system. The child welfare forum provided the young people with a platform to highlight their lived experiences as well as a drive to create change within the child welfare system in front of stakeholders and champions.

The key message that arose from the child welfare forum is that young people need to be at the table to discuss all conversations that revolve children and youth.

The discussions need to incorporate all levels of operation, children, youth, First Nation communities, leaders, child welfare sector and government in order to fully understand the needs of children and families involved within the system. The child welfare forum provided the young people a platform to express their lived experiences as well as strategies to create meaningful change within the child welfare system. The round table included the following decision makers and champion that are Provincial and Federal ministers and assistant deputy minister that represent Health, Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Education, and Child and Community Services, local and First Nation leadership, organization executive directors, Post-Secondary education institute representation, as well as program supervisors and front-line workers of Child Welfare agencies.

The young people shown strength, power, vulnerability, hope, and many other attributes at the forum, and they still continue to show it today. They were courageous in gathering, discussing, and teaching.

Let us honour them and follow in their steps by being courageous in everything that we do.

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Samantha Crowe has been with the Ontario Child Advocate since 2012. Her role in the first five years at the office was a Youth Amplifier on the Feathers of Hope project. In 2017, Samantha became a Community Development Advisor. She is a proud Anishinaabe Kwe from Lake Helen First Nation, but resides in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Samantha has recently graduated from Lakehead University with an Honours Bachelor of Social Work Degree, with a Concentration of Indigenous Learning. When Samantha is not busy with school or work, she loves to be on the land, play hockey or baseball, spend time with friends and family, travel, and be creative in whatever way she can. She is passionate about young people in her work and everyday life because she believes that everyone should have equal opportunity to play, learn, and grow into the person they want to be.

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