(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse attended a Federal, Provincial, Territorial, and Indigenous peoples’ leaders meeting on Monday, February 6, 2023. The meeting provided an opportunity for federal, provincial, and territorial ministers and First Nations leadership to exchange perspectives on the importance of ensuring First Nations control over First Nations child and family services, as well as clean drinking water issues.
“Today’s meeting shows that responsible decision-making and intergovernmental cooperation must be informed by the rights of Indigenous peoples,” said Regional Chief Woodhouse. “We need to build strong relationships between all levels of government and First Nations governments.”
Federal Ministers provided an update on Canada’s efforts to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care and continuing work with Indigenous peoples to implement the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. Regional Chief Woodhouse stressed that the jurisdiction of First Nations over their children and families is inherent and protected by the Constitution as well as international law. She said, “It is time that all provinces and territories work with First Nations to protect the rights of our children and families, not stand in the way.”
Minister Hajdu provided an update on federal efforts to ensure better access to clean drinking water for all communities.
AFN Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare also was in attendance. In commenting on discussions to develop First Nations Drinking Water and Wastewater Legislation, he insisted any legislation must include strong provisions for source water protection, and recognize the role of First Nations in managing, stewarding, and protecting upstream and downstream waters. “As we strive to ensure meaningful jurisdiction over water, it is essential that First Nations have access to adequate funding. Such funding must be designed in a way that is sustainable, needs-based, stable, and predictable. Any legislation must uphold the minimum standards outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”
Ministers and Leaders also discussed the possibility of meeting more regularly. Regional Chief Woodhouse stressed that First Nations must be equal partners in any ministerial meeting process.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
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