Thunder Bay

'Walk together': Nishnawbe Aski Nation signs MOU with 2 municipal social service agencies

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) signed two agreements with municipal social service agencies Wednesday aimed at addressing poverty and homelessness in northern Ontario.

Agreements with Cochrane, Kenora social services boards chart path to fight poverty, homelessness

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Walter Naveau (centre) and Barry Baltessen, chair of the Kenora District Social Services Board (left) and George Pirie, mayor of Timmins and chair of the Cochrane Social Services Administration Board, pose after signing agreements to work together to address poverty and homelessness. (Nishnawbe Aski Nation )

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) signed two agreements with municipal social service agencies Wednesday aimed at addressing poverty and homelessness in northern Ontario. 

The memorandums of understanding lay the groundwork for NAN to work in partnership with the Cochrane Social Services Administration Board (CSSAB) in the northeast, and with the Kenora District Services Board in the northwest.

"Sometimes those silent voices out there have no one to advocate, to speak for them," said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Walter Naveau. "When you have an MOU such as we have now, it gives those on the street a voice."

Walk the journey together

 

Partnering on solutions to social problems such as poverty and homelessness is "truly at the heart of the reconciliation process," said George Pirie, the mayor of Timmins and the CSSAB chair.

"It is imperative that the Cochrane social service agency, and Timmins, participate fully and, in fact, we believe we can lead the way forward and we believe, through working collaboratively with our Indigenous partners that we can be the model of how it gets done."

The intent is to work together from the earliest stages of planning, all the way to implementation and management of any new initiatives that tackle poverty and homelessness.

"We're going to walk together through this journey in the true spirit of truth and reconciliation, that's our desire," said Barry Baltessen, the chair of the KDSB.

Naveau said he believes the signing of the two agreements at the NAN Chiefs Spring Assembly marks a significant step forward.

'Giving hope'

"When we can put our differences aside and not look at the colours, but to look at one another as human beings trying to walk together to make this a different world, a better world," he said. "It's also giving hope."

The signatories believe the MOU will also help them address other social issues, such as mental health and substance abuse and give them a stronger, louder voice when discussing these subjects with the federal and provincial governments.

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