Image courtesy Lower Sioux Indian Community

The Minnesota Department of Human Services announced last week this year’s winners of the Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards, honoring the dedication of services who help Minnesotans achieve their highest potential.

The winners of this year’s Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards provide essential services to refugees, Indigenous youth and elders, families with children, people who have public health insurance and people who are starting their recovery journeys. Innovations include offering Indigenous food options and caring for pets so their owners can enter substance use disorder treatment.

The Lower Sioux Indian Community of Morton received its award for the Cansa’yapi Kan (Elders) program, which reinstates the role of elders within the Tribe as a strategy to transfer knowledge and promote healing and well-being for the elders in the community. This includes creating senior and intergenerational activities at the new Tribal learning center. A commercial and teaching kitchen has been added for congregate meals and activities. The program also features a chef and offers Indigenous-based food options.

The annual human services awards honor outstanding initiatives and innovations that address critical needs in Minnesota’s communities and help strengthen equity in the human services system. This is the twelfth year of the awards, which DHS started in 2012.

This year’s other winners include:

Apple Tree Dental, Mounds View
Behavioral Dimensions Inc., St. Louis Park; and Dakota County Children’s Mental Health, Apple Valley
MIGIZI, Minneapolis
Pink Cloud Foundation, Minneapolis
The Afghan Legal Clinic (The Advocates for Human Rights and Volunteer Lawyers Network), Minneapolis
Tri-City Connections (Austin Aspires and Growing Up Healthy), Austin, Faribault and Northfield