Giiwedin Anang: Navigating Indigenous family disputes with cultural compassion

The overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the child welfare system, stemming from the traumatic legacy of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, remains a deeply concerning issue.

Acknowledging the need for a holistic approach, Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) has been providing an Indigenous Family Dispute Resolution (IFDR) program, Giiwedin Anang, in the Greater Toronto Area since 2008.

Giiwedin Anang, meaning North Star in Anishinaabemoin, guides Indigenous families through the complex web of child welfare disputes. The essence of Giiwedin Anang lies in recognizing that true healing and reconciliation cannot happen if Indigenous children continue to be disproportionately removed from their families and communities. At the same time, families need the teachings and the support to address the impacts of colonialism that have led, in part, to the apprehension of their children.

The grant from the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF) will enable ALS to establish a central intake position and hire a full-time cultural programmer, known as the “Dreams Coordinator,” to enhance the program’s scope. Funding will also contribute to securing a permanent location in Toronto, allowing ALS to provide a comprehensive range of services tailored to the needs of their clients.

Giiwedin Anang operates on a culture-based model, offering services like talking circles for families involved in child welfare disputes, resolution of civil family disputes, and ongoing support through the legal system. The program extends its reach to work with families before, during, and after children are removed from their parents, ensuring the best possible outcomes for the children, parents, and extended families.

Archdiocese of Toronto