Emergency Meeting on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation
Child and Family Services
Friday, January 26, 2018
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day Speaking Points
– Check against Delivery –
Welcoming and Acknowledgement
- (Traditional opening / Elders, Youth, Women Grandmothers, Chiefs, Indigenous Leaders, CW Experts, Federal / Provincial Partners)
- Minister Philpott, on behalf of the 133 First Nations in Ontario want to acknowledge your commitment to ending this crisis. You’re willingness and tireless effort is appreciated.
- To Minister Coteau, Ontario Minister responsible for Child and Youth in Ontario, thank you for your efforts working with our Chiefs on advancing First Nation Child Welfare Jurisdiction.
- I would like to acknowledge Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.
- We commend your efforts Ms. Blackstock – for they helped the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal declare that the existing child welfare system is discriminatory to First Nations children and families in Ontario and across Canada; and set orders of remedy.
- And please, we should all remember every child taken into Canada’s child welfare and never returned – and their Mothers and Families.
Recognize the Current System
- Our First Nations need enough funding to repair the damage that has been done. For far too many of our children, it is too late. We’ve lost them. Yesterday, one of the Grandmothers spoke about the broken chain of Motherhood – a child stolen from her mother at birth.
- Canada’s child welfare industry has cost First Nations and has affected the vitality of our family institutions, in many cases irreparably.
- We need to end this crisis – together; through displacing the colonial child welfare industry ‘completely’, with our own Child Welfare systems, structures and laws – and healing strategies.
- We’ve lost many to suicide. We’ve lost them to the streets. The Missing. The Murdered. We’ve lost them to jails and prisons. Far too many of our Peoples are rotting away their lives because their childhoods have been appropriated – they don’t know who they are!
- First Nations have faced generations of oppression and abuse because of paternalistic attitudes and policies from both the federal and provincial governments.
- Residential School, the 60s scoop and the millennial scoop – all examples of policies and practices put in place to ‘help us’ but they did the exact opposite.
- The sinister origins of church and state to take children and assimilate them, was all part of an engineered ‘colonial conquest’. It has us fighting today to fix essentially – a national crime.
- The current child welfare system continues to maintain the practices of separating our children from their families and communities.
- The current child welfare system is not a system to protect our children but is an industry built on the pain and suffering of our children and families. It’s a system that looks at our children like commodities.
Our Communities are Diverse – Our Community Are Ready to Move Forward
- Our Communities are ready for change and ready to back control when it comes to their children and families.
- For example, Grand Council Treaty #3 has their own Child Welfare Law, Anishinaabe Abinoojii Inakonigewin – the Anishnawbek Nation are in the process of implementing their own Child Well-Being Law as well.
- We are looking to change how child wellbeing matters are handled in our communities.
- Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve has a community model that focuses on support their children and families and are prepared to implement it with the proper supports.
- Oneida Nation of the Thames is ready to create a system where their children never have to leave their community.
- Nishnawbe Aski Nation is advocating for the needs of the remote north and developing a funding formula to show the true costs of delivering services in the remote communities.
- There are a number of other grass-roots solutions in our communities and many ready to take it to the next level when given the opportunity.
Our Children and Families Well-being – The Path Forward
- Families must stay together.
- Families-at-risk must receive support and prevention services – We need to strengthen our families, not demonize them.
- Children must remain in their communities
- We must ensure our Children are connected to their language and culture.
- We need predictable, long-term funding.
- We need Equalization PLUS applied to address this legacy. Meaning, our inherent title of lands and treaties suggest we share equally. Now with the damage created and the cost impact to our communities – Canada, we demand our equal share of wealth derived from this land – PLUS, you must pay for the full costs of damage done.
- I wouldn’t be speaking out of turn to make the strong recommendation that Canada undergo a forensic process to examine ALL historical expenses of this country’s Indigenous child welfare system and be prepared to index all costs and hand over the funding for the repairs needed to fix what can be fixed – and to compensate what must be compensated.
- Minister Philpott, the Social Determinants of Wellbeing table that we’ve agreed to explore, fits well with your plan on Child Welfare.
Ontario and Child Welfare Reform
- The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that the existing child welfare system is discriminatory to First Nations children and families in Ontario and across Canada.
- There must be a full-scale reform of existing policy, program delivery, and funding mechanisms in Ontario– derived from the 1965 Indian Welfare Agreement. This is necessary in order to address the over-representation and number of First Nations children in care.
- First Nations, Ontario, and Canada are now working collaboratively — taking a holistic approach — to address discrimination and issues surrounding jurisdiction within today’s child welfare system.
- The goal of such reform is to create child and family services systems based on which will lead to substantive equality, so that every child across Ontario receives the services they need to thrive. The services they need to be enjoy childhood with their families and communities.
- I want to thank the Canada for organizing the past two days. We look forward to our Ontario region specific meeting in coming weeks. And we look forward to ending this crisis once and for all.
- In conclusion – lets all leave here today taking up our responsibilities, respectfully as governments and nations, working together; Securing a Future For Our Children, and Advancing Our Nations making Peace and Friendship possible for the Newcomer Society and the Indigenous People of this land.
- Now let’s get to work; keeping Our Children and Families Together!
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario.
For more information, please contact: Bryan Hendry, Policy and Strategic Communications
Phone: 613-863-1764 E-mail: Bryan.Hendry@coo.org
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