The Circle For Change started in 2013 in response to funding cuts made to programs for indigenous children in Ontario’s foster care system. We created a program that offered nature connection by inviting children to connect to the natural world. We based our program on the belief that we could prevent attachment disorder and possible permanent distrust in life by first helping children to attach to a special spot in nature–engaging in ‘land attachment’ or returning to our original mother. As mentors we journeyed with the child to a special piece of land chosen by the child and as trust was built, the child was exposed to indigenous life skills – such as bow drill fire making, plant identification or shelter building, crafts – such as hand drums, moccasins or dreamcatchers, story-telling, ceremony, and traditional healing.
We also provided support, sharing, and learning to all foster families caring for indigenous children, to help build a further bridge of support through a program called Mentor House.
Our Vision and Mission
In late 2016 we closed Mentor House and our Executive Director Shore Charnoe completed her coursework for her BSW degree, which she received in 2017 from Ryerson University in partnership with First Nations Technical Institute. While this was a difficult decision, we made these changes in order to increase our ability to provide expanded programs and services to children, youth, and adults in Ontario.
As a traditional counsellor, helper, and social worker, Shore and her team of experienced mentors are now able to provide one-on-one sessions, as well as group workshops and training in using nature connection, peacemaking teachings, indigenous traditional knowledge, storytelling, plant identification and more, for individual healing, learning, and growth.
Our mission is to empower and uplift those we serve and help people to make the best possible decisions about their own health, healing and personal growth journey.
Program Facilitator & Mentor
Richard Szponarski has a passion for the out-of-doors. He has been a mentor with Brant Family and Children’s Services and worked with The Circle For Change since its inception. Richard has expertise in wilderness skills, woodworking, fire-making, archery and other outdoor survival, and has been blessed to sit at the feet of many elders of many nations over a period of 30 years. He brings decades of experience working in carpentry and construction to his mentoring work and in support of The Circle For Change programs.
Zhyfhs Millicent has worked with Shore Charnoe since 2012 and The Circle For Change since 2013. Zhyfhs holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in English from University of Guelph. In addition to her communications and organizational management skills, Zhyfhs’ interests and experience includes working with children and youth, herbal medicine, and healing for health and wellness. Zhyfhs also works part-time as a web designer.