In March of 1982, the Rainy Lake Tribal Area Chiefs resolved to create an "Indian Alternative" to child welfare, appointing a Native Child Welfare Planning Committee to develop a concept. The committee began work in January, 1983, and developed the following concept for community care among the First Nations of the Rainy Lake Tribal Area.
WEECHI-IT-TE-WIN FAMILY SERVICES
Weechi-it-te-win Family Services is a community oriented, community based, Native staffed child and family service agency. Weechi-it-te-win serves 10 area First Nations
communities located in the Rainy Lake District of Ontario. The agency was created out of the collective wisdom of the 10 Chiefs of the Rainy Lake Tribal Council. Its purpose was to combat the destructive practices of mainstream child welfare agencies within the 10 First Nations communities. Weechi-it-te-win’s fundamental purpose is to revitalize the Pimatiziwin (life) of the communities served. Operating under the mandate of the Chiefs, Weechi-it-te-win provides bi-cultural child protection and family support services. Utilizing a decentralized model of governance and management, Weechi-it-te-win Family Services places an emphasis on personal and family healing as well as community capacity building.
CULTURAL RIGHTS AND CULTURAL DUTY
The Elders have advised and informed Weechi-it-te-win that the Agency has Cultural Rites as an Aboriginal Organization. The Cultural Rites arise from the fact that the Agency was born from Aboriginal aspirations and determination and as such was bestowed a Name and Ishoonun. In accordance to Aboriginal cultural thought, the Agency’s Name came from the Atisookaanug as well as the emblem of the Loon. The loon has provided numerous instructions to Weechi-it-te-win on how the organization needs to operate and perform. Later, Weechi-it-te-win was bestowed pipes, flags, a drum and medicines. Because of these Sacred items, Weechi-it-te-win has a duty to ensure that they are treated in a cultural manner that respects the original instructions from the Elders and ceremony that transferred these items to Weechi-it-te-win. Additional to the Aboriginal cultural thought, the moment Weechi-it-te-win received its Name it became more than a simple organization that provides services, it in fact became customarily personified in the eyes of the Atisookaanug. This means that Weech-it-te-win became a person, (much like the idea of a corporation under the Corporations Act), a living and breathing Aboriginal entity with a customary responsibility for family and cultural preservation expressed in the concept abinoojii naaniigaan.