This election, call on your leaders to do right by First Nations kids
Posted on Sep 30 2015 by the Canadian Paediatric Society | Permalink
This guest blog post was provided by Cindy Blackstock (Executive Director) and Courtney Powless (Education and Public Engagement Coordinator) of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.
In June 2015, thousands gathered in downtown Ottawa to take part in the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). For six years, the TRC investigated the history of the Indian residential school system and gathered stories of more than 6,000 witnesses and survivors. During the ceremonies, the TRC released its findings along with recommendations to address the devastating legacy of the schools on First Nations individuals, families and communities. Third on a list of 94 Calls to Action, is the full implementation of Jordan’s Principle by all levels of government.
In a complex, multi-jurisdictional system of funding and service provision, Jordan’s Principle puts children first. It makes sure First Nations children receive the care and services they need, when they need them—without denial, disruption or delay because of disputes between federal and provincial or territorial governments related to the child’s First Nations status.
Eight years ago, the House of Commons unanimously endorsed a motion to support Jordan’s Principle. Unfortunately, the federal government adopted a very narrow operational definition of Jordan’s Principle, which received criticism from the Assembly of First Nations, the Canadian Paediatric Society, UNICEF Canada and the Federal Court. In a 2013 ruling, the Federal Court offered a precedent setting standard: that Jordan’s Principle should be implemented in ways that ensures First Nations children receive services in accordance with normative provincial practices that are in compliance with legislative standards.
A landmark report on Jordan’s Principle released earlier this year demonstrates that the current governmental response falls far short of realizing the vision of Jordan’s Principle advanced by First Nations and adopted by the House of Commons.
In the report, the Assembly of First Nations, the Canadian Paediatric Society and UNICEF Canada called on governments to work with First Nations communities, without delay, to implement a governmental response that reflects the true spirit of Jordan’s Principle and provide First Nations children and youth with the care they are entitled too.
Ongoing advocacy is needed to make sure the implementation of Jordan’s Principle is a priority for the federal, provincial and territorial governments. With the federal election fast approaching, we have an opportunity to ensure the full and proper implementation of Jordan’s Principle is in the political platform of all the political parties.
“What I want to see from all parties, across the board, is no more discrimination against these kids; no more inequality in any area of their childhood,” says Dr. Cindy Blackstock, executive director the Caring Society, in an interview with APTN National News.
No discrimination means putting children first. It means delivering services—health, education, child welfare—without delay or disruption, and paying full attention to the child’s cultural and linguistic needs. What’s more, all levels of government must work with First Nations communities to identify and address jurisdictional ambiguities and underfunding that give rise to Jordan’s Principle cases. By clarifying jurisdictional responsibilities and eliminating the underfunding identified in individual cases, governments can prevent denials, delays and disruptions in services for children in similar circumstances.
In the lead up to October 19, join a movement to create a Canada that respects, honours and cares for First Nations children. Learn more about Jordan’s Principle and get ideas of how you and your organization can help by visiting JordansPrinciple.ca.
Follow @Caringsociety and #witness4FNkids on Twitter for breaking news on the Tribunal case.
The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada was developed at a national meeting of First Nations child and family service agencies, held at the Squamish First Nation in 1998. Meeting delegates agreed that a national non-profit organization was required to provide research, policy, professional development and networking support to support FNCFSA in caring for First Nations children, youth and families.
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