SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels Responds to Province’s Decision
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 31, 2020
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) Grand Chief Jerry Daniels welcomes the provincial announcement that will bring about the long-awaited termination of Manitoba’s Birth Alert policy on April 1, 2020, but asks why the Minister is not making the change immediate. Southern First Nation children comprise an alarming 50 per cent of youth in the child welfare system in Manitoba, the province with the highest rate of First Nations children in care across Canada.
Recently, SCO Chiefs issued a Directive to the Southern First Nations Network of Care (the Network), calling for the development of a safe, culturally-appropriate alternative to the Birth Alert. “We recognize that many of our young families and first time parents require support, resources, and healthy options in which to raise their children. Our children are most resilient when they are surrounded by family and community, not by strangers in emergency shelters and foster care,” said Grand Chief Daniels.
Chief Deborah Smith of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation commented that “all expectant mothers must be connected to family, community, and resources, especially those who need support and resources throughout their pregnancy in order to address potential risk and prevent apprehension. All expectant mothers are entitled to prenatal care and should not feel afraid to get the medical assistance they require for a healthy pregnancy and birth. Families are the foundation of healthy communities and healthy Nations.”
“SCO and our First Nations have not been waiting for the province to determine what is best for our children and families,” articulated Chief Cornell McLean of Lake Manitoba First Nation. “We have solutions and we implement them. Every day, we are motivated by our children to take corrective action.”
Within the past year there has been very little communication from the province around their plan for legislative reform, most recently with regard to details on the requirements and implementation of ‘Birthing plans’ instead of birth alerts and what impact this may have on our First Nation CFS agencies and their funding model. Grand Chief Daniels is clear that trust is an ongoing challenge given the lack of any meaningful communication.
For Media Inquiries:
Vic Savino, Southern Chiefs’ Organization Communications Officer
Winnipeg Sub-Office: (204) 946-1869 | Email: Vic.Savino@scoinc.mb.ca