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Ongomiizwin Ikwe Home:

At-Risk Youth Program - 3 Bed Home

An Indigenous directed response to Manitoba's strategy on sexually exploited youth.

Blue Thunderbird Family Care Inc. is an Indigenous directed human service organization, founded to work with the community in developing Indigenous solutions for the growing number of children and families in the Child and Family Services system. Through the development of a continuum of care, including placement resources for Indigenous children and families, Blue Thunderbird employs Indigenous caregivers to provide culturally safe care for children and mentoring for parents in the development of a community that cares.

Blue Thunderbird's commitment to increasing the capacity of Indigenous peoples extends particularly to its young people and their great potential to create positive energy and solutions for the urban Indigenous community. Blue Thunderbird's philosophy of care is based on cultural values and demonstrated through holistic interventions and strength-based care, utilizing both formal and informal support networks to achieve successful outcomes for children and families.


1) Indigenous female and, transgender youth identifying with female, ages 13-17, who are at-risk for or, entrenched in exploitation. Youth in the care of a Manitoba Child and Family Service Agency, requiring placement in this program may be in care for the first time or, moving from another placement. While our focus is on youth of Indigenous heritage, it is recognized that there will also be times when exceptions will need to be made to serve non-Indigenous youth.

2) Blue Thunderbird has developed a capacity of care to address most needs in the target group noted above. Youth with exceptionally challenging behaviour, who present an exceptional safety risk to themselves and others, are assessed on a case by case basis.

3) Referrals to this program are coordinated through the Provinces Placement Desk in consultation with Blue Thunderbird staff.


1) In-Home Programming: The core of the program is based on relationships and, on the whole, instills a love of self and of learning for the youth in all four directions of the Medicine Wheel. Physical life skills range from learning how to be safe in the community, to food preparation, to developing / maintaining good health. Cultural support provides teachings on practical life values, create a positive Indigenous identity and provide insights on dealing with issues that confront Indigenous people. In the Social/Emotional Direction programming includes the self-management of emotions i.e. dealing constructively with emotional responses in self and others and, in the development of safe, positive relationships. In the Intellectual Direction programming will support school / training, personal accountability and self-advocacy.

2) Continuance of Care: Ongomiizwin supports a continuance of the positive connections, supports and activities the youth has developed prior to placement. These may be with a school, recreational group, family and friends, therapist or drop-in centre.

3) Relationship Building: Priority during the early phases is given to developing a relationship with the youth. The goal is to develop trust with the youth as a mentor and support as opposed to a staff and enforcer of rules. It is through success in this component that all other planning and goals are dependent.

4) Assessment and Planning: Information gathered from the Agency and external helpers, will be applied within the context of this particular program and care givers. The information in combination with a developing relationship with the youth, will contribute to an initial assessment as to what works and what doesn't work in helping the youth achieve their goals. The goal is to make an informed care plan in cooperation with the Placing Agency and the youth's support network.

5) Stabilization: The Aunties support the youth in developing an appreciation for their own skills and for who they are as an Indigenous person. The youth is also supported with teaching on life skills and in dealing constructively with emotions. Youth are encouraged to assist in the routine work of the home with meals, cleaning and laundry; attend internal and external programming, keep medical appointments; consistently attend work/school; connect to positive community supports; develop and implement a personal safety plan related to the streets and the internet. The goal is to help the youth to manage increasing autonomy in making decisions for their life.

6) Clinical Support: The program utilizes the expertise of a certified clinician to assist in the development of optimal care planning and effective emergency intervention for the youth.

7) Service Partners: The network of resources developed under the Manitoba Strategy on Sexual Exploitation provides valuable support for our youth. Connections to services such as AFM youth and outreach services and the Youth Addiction Stabilization Unit assist our youth who may also struggle with addictions.

8) Transition: Blue Thunderbird Aunties assists the youth and Placing Agency in connecting to future placement options. If this involves returning home, Blue Thunderbird will support the child and family in developing a healthy relationship.

The Program utilizes partnerships with other placement resources to assist the Placing Worker in providing a positive transition for the youth. Furthermore, as part of the Blue Thunderbird family, it is often important for the youth to maintain relationships they have developed with peers and Aunties at Blue Thunderbird for periodic support during and after the transition process.

Youth invariably return to family in some way after their final discharge from CFS care. If the family has not received service nor been involved in the care of the youth during placement, the chance of that return being successful is greatly reduced. Given this and the Indigenous values of holistic care, Blue Thunderbird will always provide opportunity for the youth's family to engage in a supportive relationship during the placement process in order to effect long term changes and success for the family as a whole.

Program Goals:

1) Provide an excellent program with comprehensive services in all Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel for our Indigenous youth in care.
a) Provide physical safety from exploitation on the streets and in-home programming to build on the youth's strengths and positive coping abilities;
b) Provide relationship-based care in an emotionally safe, nurturing home environment;
c) Provide cultural teachings and opportunities for youth to participate in cultural activities to build self-esteem and positive identity as a strong Indigenous woman;
d) Assist the youth in developing a positive alternative routine with academic programming in school or in the home to increase their options for future school or work.

2) Develop an effective, coordinated care plan with the placing agency and other resources for sexually exploited youth to minimize gaps in addressing the youth's needs on a 24/7 basis;
a) Provide an assessment of the youth's strengths and challenges;
b) Assist the youth in connecting to community resources and drop-ins to develop a positive social network and supports to sustain a life away from the streets.
c) Build and maintain connections with clinical supports to meet the youth's emotional and mental health needs;
d) Develop the youth's life skills to ultimately help them move on to the successful independent living.

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