OTTAWA, June 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo supported a report released today by the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates entitled Aboriginal Children and Youth in Canada: Canada Must Do Better. The report reaffirms the need for urgent, coordinated action by First Nations and other governments to create a national strategy to protect and support First Nations children, the most vulnerable population in Canada.
"As Canada prepares to host the international community at the G8 and G20 meetings, we have yet another report setting out the harsh reality that Canada is failing First Nations children right here at home," National Chief Atleo stated. "Canada is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a responsibility to work with us to ensure we can close the gaps in health, education, poverty, child welfare and so many other areas where our children are falling behind. We endorse the report's call for all governments, including First Nation governments, to work together to take urgent, coordinated action to improve the living conditions and well-being of First Nations children. This is consistent as well with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which calls for us to work together in partnership."
The report looked at the situation of Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) children in Canada, with specific information and references to First Nations children. The report finds that across all social and economic indicators, First Nations children lag behind the general population. The report states that this is an issue for all Canadians because First Nations children and youth are the fastest growing segment of the population. A healthy First Nation population means a stronger Canada and is more cost effective for everyone, including governments.
"The report points out time and time again that, across almost every area of responsibility, from child welfare to education to criminal justice, there are no adequate, national, coordinated strategies in place," National Chief Atleo stated. "As First Nations, as parents and as responsible citizens we should all be standing up to support a better life for First Nations children. There is no reason that First Nations children should suffer in a country as rich as Canada."
The report includes four recommendations: to create a statutory officer independent from the Parliament of Canada; begin a national initiative to measure and report on child welfare, education and health outcomes; create a national Aboriginal children and youth participation initiative; and convene a First Ministers Meeting on this issue that includes Aboriginal leaders and child and youth delegates.
National Chief Atleo stated: "We need not wait to take action. We already have innovative ideas that we can bring to the table. The AFN recently issued a Call to Action on Education that would move us forward to improve opportunities for First Nations students. The Council of the Federation, in its meeting with national Aboriginal leaders last August, has already called on the Prime Minister to host a First Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal issues that could be used to address these issues. There is an urgency here and we have to advance these kinds of immediate, coordinated approaches that will move us all forward together. We support the recommendations in this report and thank the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates for bringing light to this situation."
The report states that support is needed from every Canadian to tackle these long-standing issues: "an effective response will require collaboration across governments and organizations, and it will require a shift from words to action to honor the rights of Aboriginal children and youth. An effective response requires that the focus be kept on the children. These children cannot be seen as the exclusive responsibility of one government or one organization. They are the responsibility of all Canadians, and they need our support."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: For further information: Alain Garon, Bilingual Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, Phone: 613-241-6789 or Cell: 613-292-0857, firstname.lastname@example.org