Tips & Tools for Providing Social Support

Aboriginal Head Start programs provide the structure for a new ‘AHS Village’ for Aboriginal families in urban areas. The centres become a place where families can network and develop meaningful relationships. AHS parents remark on how staff are very helpful and generous towards the families, as well as being a kindly source of information on resources and community services available to impact their quality of life. Friendships among staff, parents, Elders and students take root in this Head Start community. The centre provides a home for those who are far from their families or are newcomers to the city. These friendships often last a lifetime.

“Head Start has put me in touch with so many people in the community… anywhere I go, I know people. It’s a very familiar ‘family feeling’ in a big city; you get this close-knit community, and it’s a really welcoming, warm feeling.”
- Krista Murray: Parent, Singing Frog AHS

“Supporting our families is most important. Especially, I see young single moms with 2, 3, or 4 kids. We can give them a bit of a break and at the same time, it’s an honour and gives us an opportunity to play with their children and socialize. It’s a lot of fun. Helping out families, that’s where I find a lot of pleasure.”
- Yves L’Archeveque: Bus Driver/Maintenance & Former Parent, Qwallayuw AHS

  • Share language and cultural resources between Head Start organizations. At a recent joint Aboriginal/ First Nations Head Start Conference, staff members from many on-reserve FNHS sites were enthusiastic about networking and doing teacher exchanges with urban AHS sites. Some of these First Nations HS sites share the same territories and languages with Aboriginal HS sites. Members have suggested that they might share resources and cultural teachers, which would save expenses and provide language instructors to children in urban programs where traditional speakers and Elders are not available.

  • Attend joint field trips and celebrations with other Head Start or Aboriginal Early Childhood programs to have the added benefit of networking the children and families with members of both centres.

  • Invite primary and elementary classes from school cultural programs to visit and model singing and dancing for preschoolers.

  • Invite School District staff, Aboriginal Education support workers, Kindergarten teachers, and other community members to celebrations at the AHS centre.

    “These families from isolation become part of the community, talking with the children, talking with other families, networking, it’s just a natural evolution.”
    - Randy Trelinski: Bus Driver, Comox Valley AHS

  • Friday’s Child: Little Book of Tips: This guidebook and accompanying DVD provide a practical guide for working with children living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Created by the award-winning Teresia Louden, from the Comox Valley AHS, this valuable tool can be found on our website under Other Resources.

  • FAS Bookshelf – offers Fetal Alcohol Syndrome information in books, videos and posters. This information is important for teachers, child care workers, parents and family members, as well as the whole community.

  • Native Friendship Centres – There are Friendship Centres in most large cities where cultural activities offer a chance to socialize and seek support. The National Association of Friendship Centres website shows a list of all centres in BC and across Canada.

  • Local Aboriginal community groups, such as Laichwiltach Family Life Society and NENAS offer programs and support at many levels. Go to our Links page for a list of our Host Agencies and other organizations that support Aboriginal families and children.

  • Westcoast Multicultural and Diversity Services – offers a library of books and resources, as well as workshops and cross-cultural activities. Phone Toll-Free 1-877-262-0022 or check out their website for more information.

  • The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has many publications and resources for educating children, including two books to help them understand what’s happening with their family: Wishes and Worries: A Story to Help Children Understand a Parent Who Drinks Too Much Alcohol; Can I Catch it Like A Cold?: A Story to Help Children Understand A Parent’s Depression.

  • Second Step is a multicultural violence prevention curriculum that teaches children empathy, emotion management and social problem solving. With the help of puppets, songs and teaching cards, the three components of empathy (identifying feelings in self and others; perspective taking; and responding emotionally to others) become a part of their everyday experience and practice.

  • Non-Violent Communication – Communication skills for children and adults are taught through the simple tools of identifying and clearly stating feelings and needs. Conflict Resolution using these tools is non-confrontational and can bring healing to relationships. They also offer tools for Parenting and Families, Personal Growth, Workplace Communication, Healthy Body Image, and Education.

  • Building Bridges Through Understanding the Village is an experiential workshop facilitated by Kathi Camilleri. It helps participants personally understand traditional Aboriginal ways and values through exploring a those traditions and values that worked so beautifully for thousands of years before Residential Schools. Kathi facilitates these workshops regarding Canada's Policy of Assimilation and Colonization with social workers, foster parents, health care workers, church groups, students and educators, frontline workers, and other communities across Canada. See Kathi’s poster for more info.

“Maybe some of the parents don’t have family; maybe they don’t have that support. I try to talk with some of the young parents too. Because I think they need some positive things too, even if it’s just to sit down and have coffee, and I can hold their baby, and just ask how their day is going.”
- Ellen Antoine: Elder, Eagle’s Nest AHS & Singing Frog AHS