OTTAWA – Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan has issued the following statement following the release of the Report Card on the First Nations Youth Inquest.
“Between 2000 and 2011, seven First Nations youth died while attending high school in Thunder Bay. Their tragic and preventable deaths have had an immeasurable impact on their communities, their families, and fellow classmates.
Our government is working with partners to help support student safety and ensure that education and health services better meet the needs of the students they serve. This includes investing millions of dollars to support student safety programming through the Inquest-related Student Safety Task Force, increased guidance and mental wellness services for students in Thunder Bay, doubling the number of trips home during the academic school year, as well as more than $14M for culturally appropriate services, resources and programming to support students’ wellbeing through Jordan’s Principle.
Today’s report card shows that progress is underway by all parties in implementing the recommendation made in the 2016 Ontario Coroner’s inquest. However, we know that there is more work that needs to be done, and we will continue this important work in their implementation.”
Overall, the Government of Canada has implemented or is implementing 77 of the 81 recommendations. The remainder are mostly related to community infrastructure and are in active discussion, or were set aside by First Nations partners.
- Budget 2016 made substantial new investments in elementary and secondary education, totalling $2.6 billion over five years, targeted in areas such as instructional services, language and cultural programming, literacy and numeracy activities, and high-cost special education.
- In 2017-2018, as a part of these new investments, Indigenous Services Canada provided an additional $3.6 million to support First Nations work plans presented through the Inquest-related Student Safety Task Force and part of Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Emergency Education Action Plan.
- Concrete activities established for the 2017-2018 school year have been continued into the 2018-2019 school year to help ensure consistency, continuity, and predictability. A further $2 million in education funding supporting student safety, retention, and well-being have also been provided to First Nations education organizations in 2018-2019 to build upon the “on the ground” actions taken to date.
- Key examples of progress to date include over $10 million in ongoing investments for increased guidance counselling, boarding homes, doubling the number of trips home during the academic year for students who leave their communities to attend school, safety and in-school mental wellness and addiction supports for students studying in Thunder Bay and Sioux Lookout.
- Indigenous Services Canada has provided transition and second-level supports for northern Ontario First Nations communities through the Education Partnership Program (EPP). Beginning in 2016-17, the Department has invested over $5 million annually in EPP funding to support a range of initiatives proposed by First Nations organizations within NAN territory. Approximately $700,000 of this funding directly supports actions that respond to Inquest recommendations.
- Indigenous Services Canada has also invested over $14 million to-date through Jordan’s Principle Group Requests and Choose Life in education organizations and Tribal Councils in the Thunder Bay and Sioux Lookout areas. This provides students with additional culturally appropriate services, resources and programs to support their emotional and physical health and wellbeing.
- Indigenous Services Canada has increased investments to support youth mental health at the community level in NAN territory through the funding of seven mental wellness teams, and providing over $102 million to date through Choose Life for First Nations communities, as well as education and health organizations in NAN territory.