Giishkaandago’Ikwe Health Services expands Child’s First Initiative program

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

In order to meet the needs of a growing program, Giishkaandago’Ikwe Health Services will relocate some of their staff into the Energy Fitness Centre located at King’s Highway in Fort Frances.

The Child’s First Initiative (CFI) program will be moving to the new location. Starting back in 2017, CFI has provided services across the Southern Treaty #3 catchment area to children from the 10 Anishinaabe communities and 9 municipalities.

The program works with families to build health, education, social and cultural supports tailored to the child’s needs that can grow with them as they change and develop.

A few of the services offered include communication assistants, children’s mental health therapists, cultural support workers, occupational therapists, dieticians, physiotherapists, family navigators, and more.

Kayla Caul-Chartier, CEO of Giishkaandago’Ikwe Health Services, said the relocation of the program was initiated when staff discovered unmet needs across the catchment area.

“During their work with children, families and when connecting with community partners, CFI staff found unmet needs and the need to expand their team,” said Caul-Chartier. “This is what has led us to require additional office space.”

The initial needs assessment, conducted in 2016, projected approximately 100 children in the 10 Anishinaabe communities would require services through the CFI program.

The program has since grown to service approximately 480 children, Caul-Chartier said.

Regarding the changes at Energy Fitness Centre, owner Jackie Lampi-Hughes said that the gym equipment has been sold to La Place Rendez-Vous.

“I just decided to go in a new direction,” she said. “Everything’s still transitional.”

Lampi-Hughes said she may have more updates regarding the changes in her business later in the year.