Niigaaniin, an Indigenous social services and community development organization, has undertaken a self-directed process of decolonization within seven First Nations. This has involved four community-engaged and Indigenous-led research projects and the consequent implementation of re-imagined social services and community development programs. Told as a story, Niigaaniin leaders and collaborators will describe these research projects, the insights they have provided, and the decolonial changes they are inspiring.
The first of these projects examined potentials of Basic Income in the context of First Nation communities. This was initiated in anticipation of a large Robinson-Huron Treaty annuities settlement that may provide unprecedented funds for the re-imagining of social services. The second project, Beyond Income Assistance, used a decolonial methodological approach to, the review social services. This revealed that achieving clients’ wellbeing involves engaging in community wellness and development from an Indigenous community-scale perspective instead of from a ‘Western’ economy-centric and individualized one. A third project, entitled Mii Maampii Gikendaas’ya (This is Where I Have Knowledge), was a ‘decolonial labour market study’, which valued and measured Indigenous knowledge/culture and care work to provide information that could be used by the community for cultural revitalization, environmental protection, and livelihood/well-being supports. Fourth, Kinoomaagewin is a food sovereignty project that starts from the premise that food is sacred, and integrates elements of culture and language revitalization, addiction recovery, housing, and healing.
Niigaaniin studies and programs emphasize a need for a continued decolonization of social and economic processes, re-signifying the idea of individual-based economies and services towards a community and nature-oriented focus. This may happen through direct Indigenous governance, and/or through knowledge/cultural transfer from Indigenous to non-Indigenous people – both of which may promote the normalization, capacity-building, and coalition building needed to support devolution in the interest of sustainable transitions, social justice, truth, and reconciliation.
Tags: Equality and Inequality, Food Studies, Indigenous Studies
- Elizabeth Richer, Director of Niigaaniin Services
- Kerri Commanda, Special Projects Facilitator at Niigaaniin Services
- Donald Petahtegoose, Niigaaniin Services
- Dr. Michelle Seanor, Head of Research and Development at Niigaaniin Services
- Dr. Tim McNeill , Ontario Tech University
Organizer: Erik Bringleson, Mamaweswen, The North Shore Tribal Council