Katharina Stocker, the executive director of NIȽ TU,O, wants Coast Salish on Southern Vancouver Island to know that help is just a phone call away.
In the midst of a crisis you might not know where to turn. So write down this number: 250-544-1400.
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For children in care, there’s even a Culture Camp where they’ll go out on the land, meet elders and build lasting connections to guide them as they grow.
NIȽ TU,O is a Coast Salish Child and Family Services Society that serves seven First Nations communities on South Vancouver Island. With supports for children and parents of all ages and needs, the society probably has a program that will help you.
And it’s a confidential call – just ask for an intake worker and they’ll walk you through next steps.
NIȽ TU,O is a Delegated Aboriginal Agency, which means they perform many of the Ministry of Children and Family Development roles.
“We’re proud to say most of our kids are in care with extended family,” Stocker says.
That’s thanks to the compassionate work the NIȽ TU,O staff does once children are in care, but also to the ways they strengthen families and prevent emergencies. You don’t have to be in crisis to boost your skills.
“Our staff teach the Triple P parenting program. We’ve made it more Coast Salish – grandparents, aunties and uncles share traditional techniques that were wiped out by residential schools,” Stocker says. “Parents take it more than once, just so they can absorb more.”
The benefits are far-reaching. Parents say they now have something to talk about with other parents in their communities.
“That was something we didn’t expect – to build community as well as share parenting skills.”
Stocker says NIȽ TU,O’s goal is to support in any way possible. She knows how problems can be compounded, and sometimes a simple solution can keep children out of care.
For example, the Sweet Dreams, Safe Sleep Bed Program gives children a safe place to sleep, and considering an improper bed can be considered ‘neglect’ in the eyes of the Ministry, that’s a small gesture with potentially big impact.
“We’ve kept kids out of care, just by giving them a bed,” Stocker says.
- NIȽ TU,O is guided by a Board of Directors, composed of representatives from each of the seven Nations they serve. The Board discusses operations but doesn’t learn about individual cases.
- First Nation Band Councils must provide a Band Council Resolution to be served by NIȽ TU,O. It’s not up to NIȽ TU,O to decide who they serve.
- NIȽ TU,O is in the process of getting a higher delegation which would allow them to take over child protection work, but at this time it’s still done by the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
- NIȽ TU,O partners with other organizations to offer programs like PEACE, which helps children who witness abuse.
For a full list of programs visit NIȽ TU,O.ca.