Outcomes for Indigenous children and families

In addition to the ten child and family outcomes, we want outcomes for Indigenous children and families that reflect the specific needs, cultures and worldviews of Toronto’s diverse Indigenous communities. The Indigenous outcomes below were developed in partnership with the Indigenous community.

Self Knowledge

Indigenous children and families have knowledge of, take pride in, and have opportunities to express their identity.

Individual cultural identity affects spiritual, social, emotional, mental, and physical aspects of health and well-being (Lavallee, 2000). Taking pride in, and having a strong sense of one’s Indigenous identity has been linked to a number of positive outcomes for Indigenous youth (Hovey, Delormier, McComber, 2014). Similarly, the affirmation of linguistic and cultural traditions has been a factor in improving health outcomes for Indigenous communities (McIvor, Napoleon, & Dickie, 2009), and can contribute to community building and self-determination (Simpson, 2011). Indigenous identity is affirmed when Indigenous children and families have opportunities to learn and use traditional languages, participate in cultural ceremonies, and learn from Elders. Self-knowledge through the acquisition of language, spirituality and culture are key protective factors that support the individual’s social and emotional well-being.

Strong Families

Indigenous families, including all generations, are able to cope with challenges, meet their goals, and foster their culture and identity.

“All my relations” is a concept that captures the broad way that family is defined within many Indigenous communities. It recognizes all the generations within a family – Elders, parents, aunties and uncles, children and grandchildren – and the unique roles they each play in supporting well-being. It also recognizes non-blood relations, and emphasizes the relationship between all people. It acknowledges the ancestors who have come before, the future generations who are not yet born, and can also include the spirits of the non-human world.

Families support well-being at the individual level by providing a source of strength for cultural identity and self-knowledge. Strong families are also the foundation for strong communities. When families are resilient and connected to their communities, they provide the foundation for healing from intergenerational trauma and the impacts of colonialism and racism. Programs and services should take a holistic approach to Indigenous families, and where possible, should engage children, parents, Elders and other members of the community together.

Vibrant Communities

Indigenous communities are diverse, vibrant, growing, and connected, and provide a source of strength for children and families.

The Indigenous community in Toronto is diverse and comes from many different nations and regions. The final report of the Toronto Aboriginal Research Project (2011) identified community cohesion as an important aspect of strengthening communities and achieving positive outcomes at the community level. Because the Indigenous population is spread out across Toronto, and is very diverse in terms of economic status, cultural background, and service needs, finding ways to connect people to each other and to culturally appropriate services is an important aspect of building vibrant communities that can in turn provide a source of strength for families.

Cultural Equity

Indigenous children and families experience their cultural identity and way of being with dignity and respect.

Indigenous peoples have the right to express, practice, develop and foster their cultures and traditions (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007). Cultural equity involves protecting Indigenous cultures, and supporting Indigenous people to practice their spiritual and cultural traditions. Indigenous children and families experience cultural equity when they are safe to practice and express their cultures, and when their rights are respected and fulfilled. Cultural equity must also involve the sharing of power between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

In order to achieve cultural equity for Indigenous children and families in Toronto, non-Indigenous people must become culturally proficient in Indigenous culture. That is, they must be knowledgeable about Indigenous ways of being, knowing, and doing. This process must begin in the services and programs that Indigenous children and families access. Service providers must become culturally proficient through training and education, in order to have the skills, tools and attitudes that allow them to serve Indigenous children and families in a manner that is respectful and appropriate.

Self Determination

Indigenous communities are able to make decisions that improve the well-being of their children, families and communities as a whole.

Self-determination refers to the ability of communities to make important decisions about their governance, lives, and membership. In a policy context, self-determination means that Indigenous peoples are able to dictate the interventions that will produce positive health and well-being within their communities.

In July 2010, Toronto City Council adopted a Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal Communities in Toronto. This statement not only recognized the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples enshrined in Section 35 of the Canadian constitution, it also affirmed the City’s support for Indigenous self-determination.

Self-determination is expressed when:

  • Indigenous peoples and organizations make decisions about the services and programs that are needed to support the well-being of Indigenous peoples
  • Indigenous organizations have the financial resources required to provide adequate community services
  • Programs and services are rooted in Indigenous worldviews, culture and languages
  • Relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, organizations and governments are collaborative and respectful

Due to a lack of data and information available on Toronto’s Indigenous children and families, indicators are not currently available to monitor these outcomes. We are working with the Indigenous community to improve information and data available that could be used in the future to monitor Indigenous outcomes.

For information about how these outcomes were developed, please see Report 2: Indigenous Outcomes.