Canupawakpa Chief and Council close DOCFS office

·3 min read

Canupawakpa Dakota Nation Chief and Council have closed the Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services building on the nation citing concerns over service delivery from the organization.

“We feel like we were left with no choice but to shut it down and look at other options,” said Chief Viola Eastman. “We’re not satisfied.”

Canupawakpa Chief and Council met with the local Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services committee (DOCFS) Thursday to discuss the state of services being provided to the community. After the meetings, a decision was made to close the local DOCFS office.

Families have been unable to properly access the services offered by DOCFS and receive the support they need, Eastman said.

“We’re doing this for our community,” Eastman said.

The community will continue to receive services from DOCFS for now based on its current agreement, only the office has been closed.

Eastman said she hopes the closure will create a space where nation members’ concerns regarding the organization can be heard and addressed.

She said the chief and council are looking for DOCFS workers that will respect the culture and language of families in the nation.

“We want workers that are going to be able to help our families in that way with language and culture,” Eastman said.

It’s a challenging situation in Canupawakpa, she said, because in many cases the respect for Indigenous cultures and traditions was lacking from DOCFS when working with families.

Eastman said supporting Indigenous cultures, traditions, and languages is the basis of reconciliation and there is a need to have DOCFS workers in the nation who can honour this path.

A strong, locally-based DOCFS committee is in place in Canupawakpa that consists of elders and resources. The committee initially raised concerns over DOCFS service delivery in the community.

“[The committee] really cares about the community. They really want what’s good,” Eastman said. “They see what’s happening and they’re the ones that are bringing out the concerns about not getting the delivery of services that we need from DOCFS.”

Over the past several months, numerous issues have been brought to the DOCFS executive director and the local area supervisor regarding the need for improvement to services provided in the community, Eastman said. These concerns were allegedly not taken into consideration and were instead dismissed.

The nation is willing to work with DOCFS to find a resolution, she said.

Canupawakpa Chief and Council and the local DOCFS committee continue to explore different service options. Part of this work has involved facilitating discussions with the Southern First Nations Network of Care.

The ultimate goal is to ensure any services offered acknowledge, respect and practise Indigenous cultures and traditions.

“We felt we needed to look at other options right now for our families,” Eastman said.

Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.


» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp

Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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