Immediate Action Needed to Aid First Nation Communities

    Families Suffering Third-World Like Conditions in Northern Ontario,
    Report States

    SANDY LAKE FIRST NATION, ON, June 25 /CNW/ - Quick action is needed to
help children and families in Northern Ontario who are living in third-world
like conditions as a result of poverty, inadequate housing and health
concerns, states a report released today by the North-South Partnership for
Children, Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win.
    "The conditions that people in our communities live in are unacceptable
and must be addressed, as a matter of urgency," said Chief Connie Gray McKay
of Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation.
    In January, under the North-South Partnership, an assessment team of
international humanitarian aid experts and others visited the First Nation
communities of Webequie and Mishkeegogamang in northwestern Ontario to assess
the quality of life for children.
    The assessment team included representatives from Save the Children UK,
Save the Children US, Save the Children Canada, the Ontario Office of Child
and Family Services Advocacy, Tikinagan Child and Family Services, First
Nation Chiefs and Elders, community leaders, parents and youth. The community
assessment was organized by the North-South Partnership for Children and
adapted an assessment model used by international aid agencies in response to
emergencies such as earthquakes, drought and famine.
    The final community assessment reports document issues of desperate
poverty, inadequate housing and community infrastructure, serious health and
mental health concerns, barriers to economic development, family and
child-care issues, needs for greater opportunities for community
participation, and significant gaps in social service programs. Many of these
issues are similar to what one might expect to see in developing countries.
    "We have come to understand that children and families up north live in
desperate conditions," said Nicholas Finney of Save the Children UK, also a
leader of the assessment team.
    At present, few non-governmental agencies support remote First Nations
communities. The community assessments and response plan will help change that
by providing an avenue for support through the North-South Partnership, for
individuals, companies and organizations who wish to get involved in support
of First Nations looking to rebuild their communities. "They can become part
of a growing Wee-Chee-Way-Win Caring Circle to improve life for First Nations'
children," said Maurice Brubacher, co-chair of the North-South Partnership and
member of the assessment team.
    "Contributions from Partnership organizations have already touched the
lives of many young people in our communities. But, as this recent report
indicates, there is much more work that needs to be done to ensure that our
children and families have the best opportunities possible," said Chief Scott
Jacob of Webequie First Nation.
    The community assessments have identified what needs to be done; and the
North-South Partnership for Children is creating the means to do it. It is
time to work in true partnership with the community members and leaders of
First Nation communities to realize their solutions for their children,
families and community.

    Assessment reports can be obtained at:

    The North-South Partnership for Children, Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win is a
group of voluntary non-government agencies and First Nations communities
formed in 2006 to improve the quality of life of children in remote First
Nation communities. The collective goal of the Partnership, as stated in the
Partnership Terms of Reference, "is to build a network of caring
relationships, learning from one another, and following the lead of First
Nation leaders and communities, to create solutions to the urgent conditions
and challenges in remote First Nation communities."

For further information:

For further information: Jennifer Golden, 250 Davisville Avenue, Suite
503,, (416) 325-5672

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