Partnering Projects

Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Family and Community Wellness Centre's Integrated Services Model: A First Nations response to reconnecting children, families, communities and cultures

The challenge: At no other time has there been more First Nations children in care of the state than the present, and indications are that the numbers are increasing. Concerns are raised that the children are becoming disconnected from their families, communities, and cultures despite the efforts to established greater control over their care by First Nations. In response, First Nations organizations, such as the Nisichawayasihk Family and Community Wellness Centre (Wellness Centre), are trying to ensure the children they serve retain strong connections to their families, communities, and cultures despite the laws, policies, historical events, and structural barriers that inhibit their efforts.


Goal and Objectives: Our Goal is to better understand and share an innovative child welfare approach that ensures children maintain connections to their families, communities, and cultures. Our objectives are to: (1) Create and nurture partnerships that identifies, supports, and enhances Nisichawayasihk's Integrated Service Delivery Model; (2) identify the historical developments that set the foundation for the increasing number of children in state care and the development of the Model; (3) identify and assess the strengths, challenges and needs of the Model; (4) evaluate the impact of the Model in strengthening the connection between Nisichawayasihk children, families, community, and culture; and (5) share the information learned about the innovative model with other organizations, communities and individuals. The result will provide a detailed overview for the Wellness Centre to monitor and strengthen the development of the program, aid in the reduction of children in its care, facilitate the development of a larger partnership with other communities, agencies, and authorities to address the challenge, and provide evidence-based strategy for other First Nations and child and family services organizations to support children, families and communities and reduce their number of children in care.


Partnership: The core of this partnership lies between the Wellness Centre, the First Nations of Northern Manitoba Child and Families Services Authority (Northern Authority), and the University of Manitoba. It is a multi-disciplinary partnership with the Wellness Centre providing expertize in child and family services, child-welfare policy, Cree ways of helping, community organization, community development, and self-governance; the Northern Authority providing expertise in delivery of services to First Nations children and families and child-welfare policy; and the University of Manitoba providing expertise in Indigenous knowledge, social work, law, and archival research, and support from the Faculty of Social Work, the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledges and Social Work, the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies. We have initiated collaborative discussions the Chief and Council of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation who are supportive of the project and will provide oversight.


Engagement: The partnership governance committee will meet regularly with representatives from the Wellness Centre, The Northern Authority, and the University of Manitoba. Opportunity for Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation to participate, and to become a partner, will always be available. This partnership links leading practitioners and researchers around the research goal and supports the mobilization of the developed knowledge for improved service delivery by other First Nations child and family services agencies, and related services organizations. Further, this partnership is well positioned to work on the challenge and prepared for incorporating new partners in the coming years.


An Intergenerational Examination of Indigenous Physical Cultures and Masculinities

Objectives: This project aims to create a space for community-wide, inter-generational dialogue about contemporary and historical Indigenous physical cultures of manhood (e.g., sport, recreation, fishing, hunting, and ceremony) within Fisher River Cree Nation (FRCN). Using a community-based, participatory research design, a range of novel and culturally relevant methods (e.g., sharing circles, inter-generational interviews, community workshop, and a cultural weekend) will be used to engage multiple generations as co-researchers in the examination of Indigenous physical cultural masculinities. Recognizing that the objectives for this project will be evolving in consultation with the community (Ball & Janyst, 2008), we nonetheless outline five tentative objectives:

1.    To use sport, recreation and physical cultural practices as vehicles for identifying both dominant, neocolonial constructions of masculine Indigenous subjectivities, as well as those alternative, culturally- and place-specific physical cultures of manhood that exist alongside and in opposition to them;

2.    To support, accentuate, and foster those culturally specific Indigenous practices of physical culture within FRCN as a means of disrupting and challenging oppressive neocolonial constructions of Indigenous masculinity;

3.    To strengthen existing—and foster new—community relationships in FRCN through inter-generational leadership and mentoring aimed at the reclamation of traditional practices and practices of masculinity;

4.    To design—using emergent cultural constructions of Indigenous masculinities—physical cultural program for young men and boys in FRCN;

5.    To contribute culturally- and place-specific accounts of Indigenous physical cultures of manhood to academic research, policy design, and programming for Indigenous boys and men. 



Dr. Moss Norman

Dr. Michael A. Hart

Dr. Heather McRae

Dr. Leanne Tetherick



A genealogical study of Indigenous Adoption in Canada: A multi-faceted examination of events in the removal of Indigenous children with a concentration on child welfare policy shifts between 1950 and 1985


The first of ninety-four recommendation arising out of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report focuses on child welfare, which is not surprising given the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the child welfare system. The removal of Indigenous children, whether through residential schools or child welfare, is part of successive government policies of assimilation. However, assimilation, as a tool of colonization has changed its shape and visibility over time. Although assimilation was an explicit policy driving the residential school movement, assimilation through adoption and foster care is more obscure and difficult to recognize as a colonizing practice because the language of "saving children from abusive or neglectful parenting" has sanitized the explicit assimilationist rhetoric; hence, child welfare as an assimilation strategy is not recognized as such in the child welfare discourse. Indeed the Sixties Scoop has, until the recent launch of several class action lawsuits, been enveloped in a culture of silence. The Sixties Scoop refers to the period of intense Indigenous child welfare apprehensions between the years of 1960 and 1985. It is an important period to examine because there is incomplete information in the literature about how this program came to be, and more specifically, no examinations of the policy shifts that created the conditions of possibility for mass apprehensions of Indigenous children. The Sixties Scoop represents a shift from explicit Residential School assimilation policies to "child-saving" lexicon of Indigenous child welfare (ICW). The goals of this Indigenous research framed genealogical study of Indigenous child welfare are:

1. To identify the shifts in policies from the demise of the Residential School system (the explicit policies) and its replacement with the adoption and foster care system (the obscure policies),

2. To identify how assimilation practices were obscured by clinical child-saving terminology,

3. To determine how these historical discourses evolved into the Sixties Scoop

4. To identify the ways the Sixties Scoop shaped subsequent child welfare agency cultures.
5. To undertake qualitative interviews with key informants (adoptees, parents) of the Sixties Scoop to illuminate their experiences and conduct a comparative analysis between their experiences with the "child-saving" policy discourse.
6. To initiate inquiry into the scope of the Sixties Scoop numbers and national and the global dispersal of children adopted out.

This study consists of two subprojects, archival/document research and a qualitative matrix, designed to unearth the architecture of the ICW era and reveal the nature of how obscure, possibly unwritten, and perhaps questionable, policies were reified and subsequently inscribed into the culture and practice of ICW, and how these policies led to mass removals. These findings have the potential to inform contemporary ICW policy and will be of interest to historians, political scientists, social scientists, and Indigenous scholars. A related contribution is examining the nature of ICW agency cultures, through archival records and interviews, which may have contributed to the perpetuation of the Sixties Scoop. The potential here is the opportunity to delineate the political and cultural apparatus at work that allowed for the mass removal of Indigenous children, and articulate recommendations for how policies are currently implemented at the agency level. Finally, an ambitious program of qualitative research will answer questions that are not part of the official discourse about the Sixties Scoop experience for those directly affected, and will connect the causal factors as to why so many Indigenous children were, and are, in care.



Dr. Raven Sinclair

Colleen Hele

Wayne Christian

Dr. Dale Spencer

Duane Morrisseau-Beck

Dr. Nico Trocme

Kenn Richard

Dr. Conrad Prince

Dr. Cindy Blackstock

Dr, Michael A. Hart

Dr. Jeannine Carriere


The Manitoba First Nations Cultural Continuity Project

The objective of this project is to assist the First Nations communities of Manitoba in preserving and promoting their own cultural heritage, and in regaining ownership and local control over aspects of community life.

The project will focus on three main sets of research questions:

1. Do rates of suicide and other self-injurious behaviors vary across First Nations communities in Manitoba? If so, are these community-level differences consistent over time? That is, are some communities marked by rates of suicide or other risk behaviors that are consistently above or below the provincial average?
2. Can a new set of marker variables that index cultural continuity be identified that: (a) are relevant to Manitoba First Nations, and; (b) accurately reflect the efforts of individual First Nations communities to preserve, promote and strengthen their own cultural goals?3. Are rates of issues such as accidents, substance abuse, hospitalizations, suicides and self-injury associated with these situated measures of cultural continuity?


Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
Kathi Avery Kinew
Leona Star
Leanne Gillis
Gord Petruic

University of Manitoba
Michael Hart

University of Victoria
Chris Lalonde
Velten Pilger

University of British Columbia
Michael Chandler


Developing a Research Agenda on the Social Aspects of Indigenous Aging

Project Partners: Dr. Michael Hart (University of Manitoba), Dr. Silvia Straka (Thompson Rivers University), Gladys Rowe (Interdisciplinary PhD Student, University of Manitoba)

The goal of this current study is to begin developing a de-colonizing research agenda on the social aspects of Indigenous aging.

Our aims are threefold:

1. To identify research priorities with respect to understanding the social aspects of Indigenous aging, a hitherto unresearched area. For example, little is known about the roles of older people in their communities, the meaning of aging among Indigenous peoples, the nature of intergenerational and the traditional ways that various nations have always cared for their older people and their older people have cared for them.
2. To root the research agenda in the OCAP principles of de-colonizing research developed by the Assembly of First Nations (FNC, 2007b), which ensures communities have Ownership, Control, Access and Possession of their research data and to ensure that all such research continues to be driven by the expressed needs of First Nations communities, and3. To explore the role of non-Indigenous researcher as ally and partner to Indigenous researchers and communities.

We will use an anti-colonial and Indigenous methodology. An anti-colonial framework demands a commitment by the researcher to actively challenge and resist research embedded in Eurocentric belief systems, which perpetuate colonialism and undermine Indigenous self-determination. Anti-colonial research follows the First Nations OCAP ethical principles (Ownership, Control, Access, Possession). It is also associated with Indigenous methodologies, which make central traditional Indigenous knowledge. Most significantly, the researcher must adhere to relational accountability where respect, reciprocity and responsibility are key features and the research must benefit Indigenous peoples.


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