January 24, 2018
(Ottawa, ON) – In advance of a two-day emergency meeting in Ottawa, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is calling for a commitment by the federal government, provinces and territories to formally work with First Nations to fix the First Nations child welfare system.
“In 2016, I challenged all provincial and territorial governments to work with First Nations on new approaches to reform First Nations child welfare, and they all agreed,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Some jurisdictions are already moving on this urgent work, but we need formal arrangements in each province and territory with clear roles, responsibilities and timelines. It’s time to move from a failed focus on apprehension, and put the priority on prevention. We want our children to remain in their communities and with their families whenever possible, and we want strong First Nations child welfare agencies to support them. This is about fairness and hope for our children.”
The emergency meeting called by federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott will take place January 25-26 during the two year anniversary of the landmark Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision which ruled the federal government discriminates against First Nations children on reserve by under-funding First Nations child welfare agencies. The meeting, hosted by Minister Philpott, will include representation by provinces and territories, First Nation communities, Indigenous organizations and the federal government.
“It’s up to each jurisdiction to work together with First Nations to ensure every child has an opportunity to grow and thrive in a safe environment, surrounded and supported by their family and community,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We’re ready for action by all parties. I want to see each region have a process in place where the provincial and federal governments are working with First Nations on new approaches based on prevention. We’ve been fighting this battle for too long, including ten years for the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling. Ten years in the life of a child is their entire childhood. It’s time to fix the system now.”
In a January 2016 landmark decision, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the federal government discriminates against First Nations children and families on reserve.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For media requests or more information, please contact:
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
Jenna Young Castro
AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell) or [email protected]