First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children deserve the best possible start in life – to grow up in their communities, immerse themselves in their cultures, and be surrounded by loved ones. For this reason, the Canadian government has worked with Indigenous partners to develop the Historic Respect for Children, Youth and Families of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis, to improve child and family services and the number of Indigenous children and youth to reduce in care.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Saskatchewan Prime Minister Scott Moe, and Cowesss First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme announced today that the first Coordination Agreement under the Law on Children, Youth and Families of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis has been concluded was signed with Cowess’s First Nation – Treaty 4 Territory – and the Province of Saskatchewan.
The tragedy experienced in the community with the unmarked graves found in connection with the Marieval Indian Residential School has sadly reminded us of the importance of exercising First Nations jurisdiction over the well-being of their children, adolescents and children Support families. This coordination agreement is a historic step on Canada’s road to reconciliation. It will ensure that the necessary transitional measures are in place so that Cowess’s First Nation can effectively exercise its jurisdiction under the Miyo Pimatisowin Act. The nation will make its own decisions about what is best for its children, families, and community.
As part of the deal, the Canadian government will invest $ 38.7 million over the next two years to help the First Nation carry out its child and family ministry. Saskatchewan Province will continue to provide protection services to Cowesss First Nation children off the reservation during the transition to full implementation by Cowesss.
The Government of Canada will continue to work with indigenous partners, provinces and territories to respond to indigenous peoples’ priorities for child and family service reform, with an emphasis on indigenous children’s best interests, cultural continuity and substantial equality.
“Every First Nation, Inuit, and Métis child should have the opportunity to grow up with their families and communities so they can reach their full potential. We are excited to assist Cowesss First Nation in exercising their jurisdiction to give their children a better start. “
The Rt. Treasure. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
“By giving Cowesss First Nation jurisdiction and authority over child and family ministries, the children of Cowesss First Nation have the opportunity to grow up in accordance with their own traditions and cultures. This agreement will serve as a model for the rest of the country and I commend Chief Delorme for his leadership in promoting this initiative. “
The Hon. Scott Moe, Premier of Saskatchewan
“Today is an example of how reconciliation is possible in Canada. For over a year, Cowesss First Nation was empowered for many hours to exercise our full jurisdiction over our nation’s children, youth, and families to develop the vision and design of a child welfare system that would guide our culture, values, and priorities and guide all Discussions on the transition plan set out in our coordination agreement. Our discussions have not always been easy; Turning the page of past injustices that we all have inherited never is. But with Cowessss First Nation in the driver’s seat, supported by our federal and provincial partners who have worked hard to make our vision a reality, we are ready today to begin a new chapter in our history, Cowessss First, with new support, hope and new opportunities will bring nation children and young people. Our agreement obliges each government to play its part in our healing journey and in this new chapter, as a braid of sweetgrass. “
Cadmus Delorme, Chief, Cowesss First Nation
“Today is a historic day. The announcement of the very first under-law coordination agreement with Cowesss First Nation and Saskatchewan will provide the nation with the tools and resources it needs to provide the best possible care for its children, youth and families. Every Indigenous child deserves the best opportunities and we believe this will benefit their children so that they have the opportunity to grow up in connection with their culture, language, heritage and community. A strong partnership has developed through the vision and commitment of the community and all partners are committed to ensuring that the spirit of this agreement is achieved. “
The Hon. Marc Miller, Minister for Indigenous Services
- On January 1st, 2020, a law on the respect of children, adolescents and families of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis came into force. The law provides a way for indigenous communities to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services and sets national minimum standards to ensure the well-being of indigenous children, cultural continuity and substantial equality.
- The law requires an application to enter into a coordination agreement for an indigenous child and family service law to be considered federal law and to prevail over conflicting federal, provincial, and territorial laws.
- On June 1st, 2021, Indigenous Services Canada received notices and requests to exercise jurisdiction under the law from 38 indigenous governing bodies representing over 100 indigenous groups and communities. From this, 18 discussion tables for the coordination agreement were created, among others with Cowesss First Nation.
- Cowesss First Nation’s law, the Miyo Pimatisowin Act, went into effect as federal law on April 1, 2021. This enables them to exercise their jurisdiction over child and family ministries and gives them the power to decide what is for their children, their families and communities.
- In November 2020, the Prime Minister announced over $ 542 million in funding to advance First Nations, Inuit, and Métis engagement to help implement the law and help indigenous communities and groups build the ability to build their own Child start and family service systems.
- This funding supports the $ 3 billion already invested to improve government funding for First Nations child and family services.
- The government invested an additional $ 1 billion over five years through the 2021 budget, of which $ 118.7 million will go to increase funding to support First Nations child and family services.
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