Ontario Regional Chief Day Encouraged After Child Welfare Meeting

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day

TORONTO – The leadership from First Nations in Ontario and the Ontario provincial government met regarding the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy (formerly the Aboriginal Children and Youth Strategy), and agreed upon the goal of full First Nation jurisdiction on child welfare.

“During this week where we acknowledge Children’s Mental Health Week, it was agreed that Ontario and our leaders would work together jointly to create a process and identify investment needs by which we would engage the federal government in moving forward on child welfare and mental health matters,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “The Chiefs of Ontario’s Social Unit has been meeting with the Political Confederacy and the Chiefs Committee on Social Services regarding inherent jurisdiction with regards to Child Welfare. We want to ensure that First Nations jurisdiction on child welfare is paramount in system change and new fiscal relationships will ensure full, equitable support for First Nations child welfare services.”
The well-being of First Nations children, youth and families was discussed. In addition to discussing the need for an ongoing process towards jurisdiction, the issue of child and youth mental health and the unacceptably high rate of suicides among youth were discussed. The importance of moving forward on full implementation of Jordan’s Principle and the need to review the 1965 Child Welfare Agreement was emphasized.
It was agreed that First Nations leadership in Ontario and the Ontario government would work together to ensure capacity, clarity, a critical path and a strong communications plan that are vital to advancing jurisdiction on child welfare.
Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Children and Youth Service said, “I am committed to honouring First Nations’ jurisdiction over the wellbeing of First Nations children and youth. In light of Children’s Mental Health week, Ontario also recognizes the need to work together to improve the mental health and well-being of First Nations children, youth and families.”
“You can try and give resources equitably, but some communities need capacity from level one,” said Darian Baskatawang, Independent First Nation youth representative for the Ontario First Nations Young Peoples Council (OFNYPC). “Youth are people and for the conversation on equity and equality to end, the systemic barrier that is jurisdiction needs to be removed so that our communities can benefit.”
David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs said, “The work we are doing together on the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy is more urgent than ever. Ontario is committed to finding a whole of government solution to address the needs of children, youth and families in First Nation communities and having First Nation jurisdiction of the design, delivery and governance over child well-being programs and services is the path to get there.”
“Jordan’s Principle must be implemented to avoid the jurisdictional disputes that delay and deny care to First Nations on a daily basis. The importance of investing in children and youth mental health is vital today as ruled by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal; loss of our children and youth to suicide, violence and poverty is unacceptable in this day and age,” Ontario Regional Chief Day added.
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