Each year, Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (FACSFLA) bestows their prestigious Family Advocacy Award to an individual, group, or organization that contributes to making the lives of families in our area better.
This year, in a unanimous decision, members from the agency’s Community Relations and Fund Development Board of Directors Committee have chosen the Community Members of the Kewaywin Circle as the winners of the 2022 Family Advocacy Award.
“This award is our highest honour,” said Sonia Gentile, Executive Director of FACSFLA. “It is our way of recognizing the tireless efforts of those who make a profound contribution to children, youth and families. The Community Members of the Kewaywin Circle embody the true essence of this award.”
According to a release from FACSFLA, the volunteer members spend countless hours providing support, cultural teachings, and community connections for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and youth, while also providing invaluable guidance, training and cultural context for staff and community members.
Bi-weekly drumming socials are one example of the many ways the circle connects with people from a cross-section of KFL&A communities, FACSFLA stated. These powerful social events include teachings, singing, drumming, dancing, and a home cooked meal, according to the release.
Last fall, FACSFLA said that a remarkable event took place in honour of Orange Shirt Day and the first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The Kewaywin Circle organized an extensive four-day ceremony on the land which FACSFLA’s Division St. office sits. The four-day ceremony included a sacred fire, medicine teachings, and other activities such as drumming, singing, learning associated with language and identity, crafts, and an opportunity to openly ask questions about Indigenous cultures.
“We value the vast array of contributions made by the Community Members of the Kewaywin Circle,” said Gentile. “What stands out is their authentic generosity to offer guidance to our agency based on their knowledge and experience as First Peoples from several communities. They are making a difference.”
According to the release, the members are known for consistently saying, “What can we do, what can we do next, and how can we help?”
“We are exceptionally grateful for Circle members, and we offer them a heartfelt congratulations on this award,” stated Gentile.
Last year’s winner was Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington Public Health for its outstanding leadership during the pandemic. Youth Counsellor Brain Howell was the 2020 recipient. Mental health advocate Anne O’Riordan was the winner in 2019. Previous winners of the Family Advocacy Award include Kingston’s One Roof Youth Services Hub, the Kingston Immigration Partnership and Lennox and Addington Interval House.