Customary Care

Wisdom – Beaver

What is Customary Care?

Customary Care is a traditional practice of care that originates from Indigenous people.

Traditional practice recognizes and reflects the unique customs of a family and community. It preserves a family’s cultural identity and maintains the connections to the values of the community.

The practice of Customary Care pre dates the establishment of any formal child protection system and the enactment of governing statutes and regulations. This practice has been in place within all of our Indigenous communities since time immemorial. As a community, it is common practice for our grandmothers, aunts and sisters to come forward and assist in child rearing, when the need arises.

Customary Care reinforces the importance of Indigenous communities maintaining and providing care of their children, according to their traditional customs. In Customary Care, there is a community committee who ensures the traditional practices are respected and integrated into the service delivery of child welfare for the community.

Sagkeeng Customary Care

Sagkeeng First Nation along with Sagkeeng Child & Family Services (CFS) is committed to revitalizing, planning and developing Customary Care specific to the norms of Sagkeeng First Nation.

The overall intention for the revitalization of Customary Care is to ensure the distinct needs of Sagkeeng’s children and their families are paramount in the delivery of child and family services from our agency.

The success of Customary Care in Sagkeeng will be contingent upon the will of the people within the community and will work as an expansion to service delivery within our Prevention Services Unit. This is why it is essential the foundation of Customary Care be developed by the people of Sagkeeng.

After several community engagement sessions, committee members had been identified and approached for assistance on the formal development of Customary Care for Sagkeeng.

Once the committee was established, a vision session was held. The committee then came up with the name; “Mamawi- Ombegisomin” which translates to “together we will all raise the children”.

The Customary Care Committee is comprised of community members made up from the Elder’s, Women’s and Youth groups from Sagkeeng.

Purpose of Mamawi-Ombegisomin Committee

The Mamawi-Ombegisomin (“Together we will all raise the children”) Committee of Sagkeeng First Nation represents the community.

Their objective is to ensure families and children are being honored and respected and that provincial regulations do not supersede the treatment of our community members who may require child welfare services. The identity and preservation of the heritage of the community is of prime importance of the committee.

Sagkeeng’s Customary Care model involves parents, guardians, community, Sagkeeng CFS’ Prevention Unit, along with Chief and Council.

The key functions of the Committee are maintaining the child’s connectedness to their family, identity, language and sense of belonging being of prime importance.

The Committee will utilize community standards that will signify the minimum requirements of what is acceptable by the community at large.

A written agreement will be drafted by the Committee which will be utilized as a template for Customary Care arrangements by Sagkeeng CFS.

Mamawi – ombegisomin Committee

• Parents & Guardians
• Customary Care Providers
• Mamawi – ombegisomin Committee
• Sagkeeng Child & Family Services Inc.
• Chief & Council
• Customary Care Agreement

Customary Care Benefits

• Encourages the preservation of an Indigenous child’s heritage, traditions and culture
• Stimulates collaboration between Families, Communities and Agencies
• Endorses the unique status of Indigenous people
• Is a cultural response with a flexible approach

These guiding principles are founded on the recognition of Indigenous children’s fundamental need to maintain their language, cultural identity and connection to our community. Families are entitled to receive preventive and supportive services directed at preserving the family unit, along with the necessity of ensuring customary involvement of Sagkeeng members caring for their children.

Beaver Spirit – Amik: Wisdom

The Beaver Spirit teaches us that wisdom is when we embrace learning and understanding, and apply sacred knowledge into everything we do each day.