On October, Friday the 13th a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Child and Family Services facility, with members of
Council, and Elders present. The Child and Family Services Department has long been working towards this day, with the groundwork for this project having been set in 2021.
On November 16th, 2021, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued CHRT 41, which contained orders for Canada to fund the purchase and construction of capital assets for the delivery of First Nations Child and Family Services. Ahead of the applications opening in 2022, the Ugpi’ganjig Child & Family Services Department got to work, exploring, and considering their options. Director Schawn Boucher recalls having “applied within 2 days of applications opening in mid-February”. These early days were a learning experience for both the department and ISC, with guidelines for the program being finalized 2 months after the application was complete.
After a feasibility study, ISC put forward 625k for the design phase. ISC shortly thereafter deemed the project facility eligible for funding through the orders of CHRT 41. The amount released for the facility construction project was 14,631,255.00$, which would cover land development, infrastructure, and construction costs for the 12,000 square foot facility.
The Ugpi’ganjig CFS Facility was one of the first to be applied for and will be the first in Atlantic Canada to be completed. Delivery for the project has been estimated for either December of 2024, or early in the first quarter of 2025. Overall turnaround for this project, from approval to completion, has been exceedingly quick compared to other projects of this scale.
The facility will be the new home for all Child & Family’s services, including Head Start, guardianship care, protection and prevention programs, and more. The new facility aims to provide comfort and privacy for those seeking services, as oftentimes clients are already emotionally vulnerable, and being in the public spaces of the band office can cause unnecessary stress ahead of meeting with C&FS staff.
Director of Child and Family Services, Schawn Boucher, had this to say regarding the new facility and the future of C&FS. “I see more prevention-based activities where we can be more culturally inclusive. Our aim is to catch high-risk families early on to avoid taking children in care. We want to avoid separating families, and we want to work with them to keep their children in their care.”