SASKATOON, April 23, 2019 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is at the meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Social Services and Indigenous Leaders in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan today pushing for action on homelessness, poverty reduction and First Nations control over First Nations child and family services. Priority items raised include the need to pass Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families before the end of this session of Parliament. The bill focuses on First Nations jurisdiction over child welfare and was developed with input from First Nations.
"We need to see coordinated action by all governments to better ensure safety and security for our people struggling on the streets and those living in poverty," said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. "An important part of this work is ensuring First Nations children have a fair start in life so they can pursue their dreams and succeed with a strong connection to their cultures, nations and families. Focusing on prevention over apprehension is the way to end the over-representation of our children in the child welfare system and support their success. I'm urging all the provinces and territories to support Bill C-92 and to work with First Nations to put the responsibility for our children back where it belongs - with First Nations."
Bill C-92 supports First Nations governments in developing their own systems for First Nations child welfare and recognizes that First Nations have ultimate jurisdiction over child welfare. It situates the right to child welfare as an inherent Aboriginal right within section 35 of Canada's 1982 Constitution Act. It supports existing agreements that are in place or underway. Today's meeting involved provincial and territorial ministers of social development and federal Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O'Regan, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos, National Chief Bellegarde and other Indigenous leaders.
All provincial ministers of child and family services are meeting tomorrow with federal minister Duclos to discuss the same priorities. National Chief Bellegarde has consistently called for First Nations and AFN involvement at all federal, provincial and territorial meetings, the Council of the Federation and other inter-governmental forums.
During a meeting with premiers in July 2016, National Chief Bellegarde received a commitment from all provinces and territories to work with First Nations in their regions on new approaches to First Nations child and family services that emphasizes prevention over apprehension, and support solutions and systems designed and driven by First Nations. Provincial and territorial leaders agreed to work with First Nations on new approaches to reduce the number of First Nations children in care and to ensure results are tangible and measurable.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: Jenna Young Castro, Senior Communications Advisor, Assembly of First Nations, 613-241-6789 ext 201, 613-314-8157 (cell), [email protected]; Monica Poirier, Bilingual Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, 613-241-6789 ext. 382, 613-292-0857, [email protected]