Yes, it's an old institution. There's a lot happening at St.Amant. I'd be happy to tell you all about it.
Good morning to everyone, to members of the committee, to Chief Kent, Mr. Harper, Dr. Lavallee, Ms. Healy, Ms. Denny, and Ms. Star. Thank you very much for the invitation to appear before you this morning.
I'd like to begin by recognizing that we are on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe nation. I would also like to acknowledge the memory of Jordan River Anderson. Jordan has left us a powerful legacy, and what happened to him must never happen to another child.
I'd like to especially thank and celebrate our many partners in Manitoba's first nations communities and tribal councils. They guide our work, and we are honoured to walk this path with them.
Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't also acknowledge our friends and partners from other service providers, including Eagle Urban Transition Centre, Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre, and the Rehabilitation Centre for Children.
Norm and I will be sharing a little bit with you today about some of the important capacity-building initiatives taking place in Manitoba, through the Jordan's principle child first initiative. I'd like to be very clear, though, that this is not our story. This is the story of first nations community members who are absolutely determined to create better futures for their children.
That said, allow me to provide just a little bit of context and a little bit of information about St.Amant. We are a not-for-profit organization that offers a very wide range of services and programs to children and adults with developmental disabilities, autism and acquired brain injury. We operate a health and transition centre for complex health and stabilization needs in over 100 community sites and homes. We offer specialized services for children with autism, and a wide range of clinical supports for children and adults living in the community at large.
Two years ago we were approached by the first nations and Inuit health branch to deliver services to children in their home communities, through Jordan's principle. Before accepting this offer, we thought carefully about whether it was appropriate for us, as a non-indigenous organization, to accept this responsibility. In the end we agreed, only because this is an unmet need. We fully embrace the vision of ultimately transferring these services to an indigenous organization. In the interim, though, we are honoured to contribute according to the wishes of communities.
Our mandate is to deliver services in an equitable fashion to first nations children and youth throughout Manitoba. Community-based teams in any of those 63 communities can refer directly to our services and don't require any sort of pre-authorization from government. Our services through Jordan's principle include behavioural psychology, counselling, social work, nurse consultation, and dietician services, all with a focus on children with developmental disabilities, autism and complex health needs. We commit to service that is respectful, culturally safe, holistic, and person- and family-centred.
Since we first started receiving referrals in the summer of 2017, we've grown from supporting one child in one community to now over 300 children in over 40 communities across Manitoba, all at no cost to families or communities themselves.
But as I said, this story is not about us. Jordan's principle has resulted in significant employment and resource development in Manitoba. Each of Manitoba's 63 first nations and each of the seven tribal councils has received funding to develop programs tailored to their community. In total, right now there are over 1,100 first nations people employed in Manitoba, through Jordan's principle; and over 90% of those people are living within first nations communities.
We can probably all agree that supporting children and youth with disabilities and their families to achieve their own life goals is inherently meaningful and fulfilling work. I can tell you that the Jordan's principle community staff and leadership are deeply committed to that work and to making positive change. Service providers like St.Amant have been called upon to support the community-driven capacity-building efforts of those leaders. Providing welcoming and accessible education to front-line staff is critical to building skills and confidence, and it's also one way that we can contribute to reconciliation.
Since February 2018 we've received over 350 workshop requests from nearly 40 communities, and to date our clinicians have delivered about 120 workshops in 23 communities around Manitoba. Some of the topics we've provided training on include supporting children who have challenging behaviour, coping strategies for care providers who are working with those kids who have challenging behaviour, introduction to autism, and many more. We've counted over 1,500 participants in our workshops in the past 12 months.
Everyone is welcome at our workshops. Participants have included family members of children with disabilities and staff from Jordan's principle programs, schools and health centres. An incidental benefit of all of this training in the communities has been the opportunity for relationship building among the staff of different service providers within those communities.
One thing that I find interesting here is that the training and workshops for community members occur in a context. That context is a long-term relationship characterized by trust and mutual respect between the community members and the staff from St.Amant who are providing the training.
The clinicians who are delivering those workshops and the participants are also partners in delivering services to individual children and youth, so they have a dual relationship. That ongoing relationship creates opportunities for the clinicians to better understand the learning needs in the community and the learning styles of their partners. It also creates opportunities for reinforcing learning through in-the-moment coaching over an extended period of time.
Those opportunities increase the likelihood of information being retained and consistently applied. In that way, we hope that the need for support from outside service providers like us will decrease over time.
Capacity-building efforts targeting front-line staff have the potential to result in an enduring impact in the communities. Community members who receive training are often rooted in their communities, and many may choose to stay there over the long term. The approach that we've taken is consistent with a multi-tiered strategy that includes both credential-focused academic training—such as what Dr. Lavallee has advocated for—and high-quality professional development for an existing workforce.
St.Amant has also collaborated on the development and delivery of a structured training curriculum for community Jordan's principle program staff.
I'd like to invite Norm to speak to that.