Tikinagan Child & Family Services encouraging people to wear purple on Oct. 27
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
Dress Purple Day, held each October, commemorates and raises awareness of the important role that individuals and communities play in supporting vulnerable children, youth, and families.
Tikinagan Child & Family Services is calling on the 30 First Nations and the urban areas they serve in northwestern Ontario to acknowledge Dress Purple Day on October 27.
Dress Purple Day celebrates communities caring for families, children and youth and shares the message that help is available and no one is alone. People are encouraged to wear something purple on October 27 and use the hashtag #IDressPurpleBecause to show their support.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement featured on Tikinagan’s website, “Together we can help raise awareness about the community’s responsibility to look out for our children and youth. Let’s lift families and young people up during these difficult times.”
Executive Director Thelma Morris shared in a news release that Dress Purple Day raises awareness that Tikinagan Child & Family Services, a community-based child and family service agency established in 1984, is part of the circle of care that supports the well-being of children, youth, and families.
“Tikinagan shares the sacred responsibility held by parents, extended family and community members to care for children. It is important for each child to be part of a network of caring people. This effort is guided by our service model Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, everyone working together to raise our children.”
A news release issued by Tikinagan Child & Family Services explained that Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, “is a system of protecting and caring for children and supporting families that has been designed and is delivered by First Nations people. Every decision Tikinagan makes is to give the best possible outcome for the child and their family and with the intention of keeping them connected to their family, culture, and community.”
Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance shared in a statement featured on Tikinagan’s website, “At the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, the safety and well-being of children and youth is very important to us. We support children and youth by providing funding for important services such has day care, parks, playgrounds, and recreational programming and facilities. As well, we have many different partnerships with organizations such as the Friendship Centre, Friends of Cedar Bay, The Kenora District Services Board and the Northwestern Heath Unit who help create different programs and opportunities for youth and children in our community.”
Morris shared, “On a day-to-day basis, most of our child protection reports come from concerned family or community members, as well as grandparents and Elders. These are the people who are already invested and close to the child. Everyone in the community watches over all the children, especially in small community settings. That’s why everyone is working together to raise our children. These invested people are involved in the future of children. And that’s what we want: we want them to be invested and part of the child’s life.”
Morris added that the pandemic is creating additional stress for families, in some cases, also posing a higher risk of the well-being and safety of vulnerable children, youth, and families.
Thunder Bay Mayor Bill Mauro said in a statement on Tikinagan’s website, that sports and recreational activities are paramount for the well-being of children and youth. “We understand the impact these activities can have in providing our children and youth with a healthier future and a better quality of life. We also work with our community partners to ensure our city’s children and youth have opportunities to thrive.”
“COVID-19 can lead to an increase in risk factors surrounding mental health, challenges in the home violence, and neglect of children and youth. Anyone in need of help is encouraged to reach out to the services available in their community, including Tikinagan. Dress Purple Day is a time when we remind everybody that help is available and that the community needs to work together to support families and look after kids,” Tikinagan informed.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, Nicole Bonnie said, “Please take the time to learn about the resources and supports that are available to families in your community. So, if someone reaches out for help, you’ll be ready and equipped. We all have a role to play in caring for children and youth and families in Ontario.”
Further information and resources can be found at tikinagan.org. Anyone needing to report a child protection concern can call Tikinagan 24/7 at 1-800-465-3624.