VANCOUVER, March 17, 2017 /CNW/ - The health and well-being of Indigenous children is a top priority for First Nation communities and the Government of Canada. We are committed to supporting First Nations across the country on how we can change together outcomes for children and families.
Today, March 17, marks the 15th anniversary of the creation of the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) with representatives from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), the First Nations Summit and the BC Assembly of First Nations. The FNLC is an organization advocates for, and is directed by, First Nations in British Columbia.
Minister Bennett met with the FNLC on March 15, 2017, to discuss the work of improving First Nations Child and Family Services in British Columbia. The involvement of First Nations in the development of solutions is essential to ensure that every child and family receives access to the care they need when they need it.
Canada, the Province of British Columbia and the FNLC have formed a tripartite working group to focus on ways to bring about real change in child welfare in the Province of BC. All parties have agreed to a Terms of Reference for the working group.
A Reconciliation Charter is also being developed and is a commitment for all partners to work towards creating a range of flexible options that are responsive to First Nations' capacity and needs and are led by the nations towards jurisdiction and governance for children and families.
"As we transform the child protection system to a system focussed on children's well-being it is crucial for all partners to be involved. The tripartite working group brings together the First Nations Leadership Council, the Province of British Columbia and Canada in order to work together with Indigenous communities on the reforms necessary to improve the lives of First Nations children and families throughout British Columbia. "
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
"For the first time both the federal and provincial government and First Nations are at a common table to reform the archaic children and families welfare system, that is overrepresented by Aboriginal children in care, the focus will be bringing about substantive changes for prevention and well-being to support First Nation based governance, jurisdiction and decision making for children."
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Union BCIC Secretary-Treasurer
"We are at a critical juncture in our collective histories in terms of making systemic change to today's broken child welfare system. The number of aboriginal children in care today supersedes the number of children who attended residential school. For the first time in 25 years we have all the necessary parties at the table to begin discussions and create a First Nation - Crown relationship to address the challenges of jurisdiction and authority on child well-being in B.C. We look forward to realizing the real change required to improve the circumstances of our children and families so they can live a high quality of life in their communities, with their families, rooted in their language and culture."
Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit, Political Executive
"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's first 5 Calls to Action were focused exclusively on Indigenous child welfare, and it's with this momentum that carries the three parties at this table to address the fundamental and transformative change that is required for BC's child welfare system. We know that removing Indigenous children from their homes leads to devastating outcomes and the BCAFN and our partners remain committed to this important and necessary work."
A/Regional Chief Maureen Chapman, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations
- The FNLC comprises the BC Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and provides a forum for First Nations in BC to address issues related to treaty negotiations as well as other issues of common concern.
- A list of Canada's actions to support First Nations Child and Family Services is available on our website.
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SOURCE Government of Canada
For further information: media may contact: Sabrina Williams, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, 613-697-8316; INAC Media Relations, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 819-953-1160