Working with northern communities
Supporting Security: Aboriginal parent-child bonding initiative
Infants who are made to feel safe grow up to have better psychological and physical health, develop strong social relationships, and become better parents. These children are also more likely to develop a positive cultural identity and curiosity about the world. Because of residential schools, many First Nations children were never parented and few learned parenting skills as adults. As a result, many of today’s Aboriginal parents have difficulty forming bonds with their infants and responding to their infant’s need for security.
To improve the bonding experience between parent and child in northern communities, Save the Children Canada has partnered with Dr. Jean-Victor Wittenberg, the Head of Infant Psychiatry at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, to work with Aboriginal parents to strengthen their parenting skills and ability to form secure and responsiveness bonds that meet the needs of their children. Through our project, Supporting Security: Strengthening the Experience of Security for First Nation Mothers and their Infants, we are reaching some of Canada’s most vulnerable children on reserves in Northern Ontario.
Capacity building for sustainability
Through Save the Children Canada’s collaboration with Dr. Wittenberg, we have been able to leverage the participation and support of Health Canada, in helping to develop the capacity of First Nations communities to provide the tools and support to strengthen the experience of bonding, attachment and security between infant and parent. Local community health workers and facilitators (Aboriginal women with organizational capacity to support group leaders) in Northern Ontario communities are being trained in the theoretical and practical applications of infant security. They are also learning how to organize and lead 12-week Supporting Security groups for Aboriginal parents. Improved child-rearing knowledge and tools are also being developed and provided to more than 80 parents/caregivers.
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Photo courtesy of Health Canada