A Message from CASA CEO Bonnie Blakley: Indigenous History Month

June is National Indigenous History Month, with Canadians recognizing National Indigenous Day on June 21st. This is an opportunity to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples and to learn about their lived experience, history, and culture. With the recent discovery of the grave site of 215 children who died at the residential school in British Columbia, CASA has an added responsibility to reflect on this history and what it means for our staff, those we serve, and our community. This is a difficult topic to talk about; it requires meaningful discussion in order for healing to happen. Many of us may feel hesitant to ask questions, do not know how to approach the topic with our Indigenous colleagues and friends, or are uncertain about how we can help moving forward. As an organization, we are committed to continuously improving, especially as it relates to embracing diversity in our workplace and offering culturally safe care to those we serve. CASA has started to take small steps on this journey. Part of this has been our recognition of and responsibility to respond to the 2015 Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action. In response, CASA provided initial training to staff. Since that time, we have established outreach services to four First Nations Bands providing FASD/Mental Health Services, and during the building of CASA Centre, created space for a prayer/smudge room. This is a start, however we have much further to go on this journey. In order for CASA to provide culturally safe care to those we serve, we need to take purposeful and effective action to improve in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusivity. To do this, we require staff who reflect on the community we serve. This will mean including Indigenous clinicians on our teams, intentionally committing to incorporating indigenous practices into our services, and ensuring our staff have the education and training to effectively deliver culturally safe services. To achieve this, we are:

  • Establishing an internal Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Council.

  • Hiring an Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Lead to assist with this important work.

  • Establishing an Indigenous Advisor role that will report to the Chief Executive Officer and be part of the Senior Leadership Team.

  • Hosting educational session(s) for staff focused on trauma-informed care as it relates to intergenerational trauma and our Indigenous population.

  • Focusing our July fundraising event on supporting this important work. You will notice that our annual cycle event now titled the Every Child Matters Cycle Ride. Proceeds from this event will assist us in moving forward on the important work above.

With sincere thanks, Bonnie Blakley, CASA Chief Executive Officer David McNeil, Chair - CASA Board of Directors