TORONTO, ON (Nov 1, 2016) --- Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says that now the parliament has unanimously passed the motion on First Nation child welfare all jurisdictions must come together now to immediately repair the damage done to the most vulnerable members of Canadian society – Indigenous children and their families.
“We have never given up jurisdiction on child welfare. Federal underfunding and misguided provincial child welfare systems do not work: they continue to fail our children and families,” said Regional Chief Day. “Renewal in child welfare is our highest priority. We will continue to call for meaningful recognition and resources to allow First Nations to exercise our own jurisdiction in caring for our children and families in need.”
Concerns about inadequate funding in First Nations child welfare have been raised and studies for decades. In 2007, a complaint of discrimination was filed at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, later referred to the Tribunal. The complaint was filed by the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. Chiefs of Ontario joined the complaint as an interested party.
This past May, First Nation leadership met with provincial Cabinet Ministers to discuss implementation of the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy, with the goal of full jurisdiction of child welfare by First Nations. In addition to discussing the need for an ongoing process towards jurisdiction, the issue of child and youth mental health, and the unacceptably high rate of suicides among youth was discussed. The importance of moving forward on full implementation of Jordan's principle and the need to review the 1965 Child Welfare Agreement was also emphasized.