“I am proud of the work we are doing for our Nations.” – Grand Chief Daniels
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 27, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) hosted a Chiefs-in-Summit earlier this week. Highlights included the passing of key resolutions that will positively impact the overall wellness of the citizens of SCO Nations, along with a special honouring ceremony for Premier Wab Kinew.
“At the start of this Summit, I expressed a desire for unity and to work together for the betterment of all our citizens,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “I am so proud to see that manifest.”
The first resolution for discussion was brought to the Summit by Chief Cameron Catcheway of the Skownan First Nation. The resolution called for action by SCO regarding the flawed claims process for the Federal Day Schools Class Action. The delegates voted for a review of all claims and asked that they are overseen by a First Nation person through an appointment process and that Crown Indigenous Relations Canada (CIRNA) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provide the necessary resources to carry out that review by reporting back to the parties within 12 to 18 months.
“From the beginning, the day schools claims process has been misleading, confusing, and not fair to our Survivors and their families,” said Chief Catcheway. “We need this process to be done with integrity and with respect for our Elders. I am grateful my fellow leaders have chosen to walk with them in this resolution.”
Another important resolution focused on increasing funding and capacity for Yellowquill University College to educate and train First Nation Child and Family Services workers to support Nations in restoring their jurisdiction under Bill C-92, with laws and services based on traditions, culture, and language. The resolution was brought forward by Chief Trevor Prince of the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation.
“Many children in care do not receive the unconditional love that they would get in their own homes or from their home communities,” said Chief Prince. “By training more of our own people to deliver child welfare, we will be able increase the opportunities to care for our little ones in traditional environments, while keeping them closer to home and family. Having our children stay closer to home and family will contribute to healthier children, youth, families, and Nations.”
The vast majority of Yellowquill’s budget is recovered through tuition. So, First Nation students with the least ability to pay are bearing more of the cost of their post-secondary education that the majority of students in Canada who attend post-secondary institutions funded by provincial governments. This is a significant systemic and structural inequity built on many other inequities.
The remaining two resolutions focused on addressing issues related to child welfare, including one directing SCO to advocate for ISC to provide child and family services (CFS) prevention services funding to support capacity development to include members living off reserve who are involved with CFS. SCO will pursue increased prevention funding allocations to replace the current shared funding formula to increase capacity to implement a prevention-based CFS system at all levels.
The final resolution, called “Bringing our Children Home,” directs SCO to investigate the experiences of Anishinaabe and Dakota children currently and previously placed in the provincial foster care system examining the assimilationist and culturally genocidal impacts on their health and well-being. SCO will advocate on behalf of Anishinaabe and Dakota children, families, and Nations to rectify the injustices and cultural loss experienced. SCO will also advocate for CFS agencies to comply with subsection 16 (3) of Bill C-92, which stipulates the ongoing reassessment of a child’s placement for the return of children to their families.
Among the discussions related to the resolutions, the Chiefs-in-Summit received a presentation on the development of the Canada Water Agency and information from the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation.
The Chiefs-in-Summit also took part in a special ceremony to recognize the Honourable Wab Kinew, the first First Nations Premier of a province in Canada. Premier Kinew reasserted his intention to work directly with Chiefs. He received gifts of handmade items created by Anishinaabe artists from the Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation and the Lake Helen First Nation (Red Rock).
“I extend my gratitude to the SCO Chiefs, proxies, our invited guests, all those who joined us from Roseau River for our special ceremony, and the Honourable Wab Kinew and his family for joining us at our Chiefs-in-Summit,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “As leaders of our Nations, we have been tasked with protecting, preserving, promoting, and enhancing the inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions First Nations peoples’ through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process. I am confident our ongoing efforts to support the wellness of SCO citizens will help us to fulfill our mandate.”
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 85,500 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
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