Community Networking: A Policy Approach to Enhance Aboriginal Child Welfare in Off-Reserve Communities


  • Judy Gillespie University of British Columbia
  • Dennis Whitford Senior Advisor Aboriginal Services, Region 8 Northwest Child and Family Service
  • Miriam Abel University of Calgary


This paper presents results from a community based participatory research initiative involving an Aboriginal Interagency Committee located in northern Alberta. The research aimed at developing knowledge and understanding of community oriented policy frameworks that promote social change at community and structural levels, to enhance off-reserve Aboriginal child welfare. Emerging policy lessons suggest "community networking" as a viable approach to address off-reserve Aboriginal child welfare. This approach utilizes a formal structure, grounding in Aboriginal values and traditions, leadership and guidance from Aboriginal community members, and the values of inclusiveness and respect for cultural diversity. There is a need for further research to understand the outcomes of such an approach for the welfare of Aboriginal children and families and for similar research within other contexts.

Author Biographies

Judy Gillespie, University of British Columbia

Dennis Whitford, Senior Advisor Aboriginal Services, Region 8 Northwest Child and Family Service

Miriam Abel, University of Calgary


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