At  NIȽ TU,O  ’s May 25th event, four Coast Salish children celebrated leaving foster care, for good.

The community gathered on May 25 at 5 p.m. at the Saanich Fairgrounds to celebrate a very special homecoming. Four children left foster care to join their “forever families”—one through adoption and three through family reunification.

NIȽ TU,O’s Executive Director Katharina Stocker spoke at the ceremony, saying, “It’s been such an emotional feeling watching these kids going back to loving homes and being with their families. Watching them grow up, I am happy to see them back with family.” She thanked the staff, family members, community members and cultural connections workers who worked so hard to make this homecoming happen.

The three families being celebrated were called to the stage to be blanketed and receive gifts. The blankets are a symbol of the warmth, love, and protection that family offers.

One social worker shared she felt “Very excited to be a part of the process,” and she is “proud of the families and the hard work they put in to get [the kids] back.”

One foster parent, Gitte shared “I don’t think this would have happened without NIȽ TU,O . I just rave about how amazing the love that they have for the children [is]. They go beyond expectations . . . I’m just blown away[.]”

Gitte fostered one of the children since he was a baby. She has one other adopted child, and all of her biological children and grandchildren joined the ceremony. 

Her newly adopted son’s biological sister Kaley traveled from Ontario to attend, along with his grandparents. 

“It feels really good [to be here,]” Kaley said. “I’m just glad my brother got to grow up in a better home, like I have.” She shared she had a safe foster home, and is glad her brother now has a safe home, too. She expressed gratitude for the way NIȽ TU,O   works to ensure children are brought up in a culturally-safe environment.

Another social worker, Crosbie, said she had no words for the occasion.

“It’s beyond words to see children go out of care,” she said.

A friend of one of the families, said, “It’s awesome to see the children connect with their forever family.”

The ceremony included four songs and dances by the Songhees Dance Group. The performance is considered to be a spiritual blessing. 

Rose’s Catering catered the event. Michelle Morris and Rose Jimmy are a mother and daughter duo who have been cooking recipes passed down from the ancestors – such as delicious salmon, chowder, yeast buns, and fry bread – for decades. On this evening we had a delicious roast beef with all the trimmings.

Chief Harvey Underwood of Tsawout First Nation – a  former  NIȽ TU,O Child & Family Services Board Member – also attended the event. He said he’s happy to see the community taking care of their children and glad to see NIȽ TU,O having a significant impact on the community. 

He said, “I see the passion parents have for their children to succeed.”

NIȽ TU,O celebrates this significant milestone for the four children, and looks forward to continuing to provide culturally-safe support to Coast Salish youth and families.

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