January 26, 2018 (Ottawa, ON) – The Métis Nation is encouraged by the outcome of today’s emergency meeting on Indigenous Child and Family Services Reform in Ottawa involving federal, provincial and territorial ministers and the leadership of the Métis Nation, First Nations and Inuit.
“The federal government’s commitment to action, in particular its commitment to support Métis Nation leadership in their work to advance meaningful, culturally-appropriate reform of child and family services, is an essential first step,” said David Chartrand, Vice-President of the Métis National Council (MNC). “Following up is even more important and to that end we set out some specific steps that should be taken.”
The Métis Nation’s Minister of Culture, Heritage and Family, Clara Morin Dal Col, identified those steps during the discussion of commitment to action this morning. They are:
• Building upon the Nation-to-Nation, government-to-government relationship other levels of Government need to recognize the Metis Nation’s right to assume its jurisdiction over Child and Family Services.
• The Federal Government needs to recognize its post-Daniels fiduciary responsibility and take the funding lead to support Metis child and family institutions where these exist and to support the creation of new Metis Nation child and family authorities.
• Addressing the crisis of Metis children and families requires long-term institutional changes and sustained coordinated activities of all orders of government. Strengthening accountability calls for an Annual Summit on Métis Nation child and family issues.
• There is a need to strengthen Metis Institutions to increase the capacity of those institutions to address the determinants that have been identified as increasing risks to children and families.
• There is a greater need for investments in prevention and the need to develop and coordinate wrap around services to support families (denial of housing supports for Metis needs to be addressed).
• There is a need to identify data and share best practices. Identifying Metis children in intake in a significant manner and assist with ensuring that children outside of registered First Nation children have an identity other than ‘Other’.
• Any changes to policy or legislation that effect Metis children in care must be done in consultation with the Metis Nation and its governing entities.
• There must be full engagement of Metis families and children and new approaches must respect their culture, heritage and identity in all services and plans.
• Ongoing intergovernmental work should involve the federal government and Ontario and the four western most provinces, the MNC and its Governing Members.
“It appears that Budget 2018 will include funding for Indigenous child and family services and it is imperative that the Métis Nation participate fully in it to address this longstanding and growing crisis”, said Vice-President Chartrand. “ We also expect the budget to address federal commitments to the Métis Nation in areas such as housing, early learning and child care, and employment and training, all of which are critical in heading off the conditions that cause family breakdown and apprehension of our children.”
The President of the Women of the Métis Nation, Melanie Omeniho, emphasized that in addition to being a human rights crisis, Indigenous children in care speaks to the need to recognize and implement the rights of Indigenous people to self-determination. She stated:
“As Minister Bennett rightly pointed out, this is a section 35 rights issue, the right of our Métis Nation to protect and secure our Métis families and children. Who can argue with that?”
Métis Nation’s Minister of Culture, Heritage and Family, Clara Morin Dal Col’s statement:
Métis Nation Vice President David Chartrand addressing the media