“Children need to come first…” Madahbee

Sleeping GiantNIPPISSING FIRST NATION – Aboriginal News – Anishinabek Nation leaders are applauding a provincial government report that recommends that First Nations have more funding and jurisdiction in the management of children in care. “It is our inherent right to take care of our own children,’ said Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, commenting on the Aboriginal Advisor’s Report on the status of Aboriginal child welfare in Ontario.

Released this week by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the report by former Anishinabek Grand Council Chief John Beaucage says First Nations need to have more say in how their children are taken into care, and more resources to adequately fund the process. The report can be found on the Ministry of Children and Youth Services website and also on www.anishinabek.ca under the Social Services program.

“Children need to come first,” said Madahbee. “There are more children in care now than at any time in Canadian history – including the Residential School era. This is a Millennium Scoop and it has to stop.”

The Anishinabek Nation has drafted its own Child Welfare Law with anticipated implementation in 2013. The main focus of the law is to ensure that First Nations children are being provided culturally-appropriate care. “If First Nations children do need to be in care, they should first placed with First Nation families, extended families, be kept in the communities and in the nation,” said Madahbee. “How are we to retain our language and culture if our children are shipped out?”

According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the people concerned.

“The report also talks about resources for capacity-building for the Band Representative position,” said Madahbee. “INAC has to step up to the plate and designate core funding and capacity dollars to Child Welfare. The Band Representative Program funding must be re-instated by the Minister of Indian Affairs to ensure that First Nations can adequately advocate for their children.”