Terms of Reference signed for collaborative work by Canada, Yukon and Yukon First Nations as part of reform of Indigenous child and family services
March 18, 2019 — Kwanlin (Whitehorse), Yukon — Indigenous Services Canada
Indigenous Services Canada, the Government of Yukon’s Department of Health and Social Services, and Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Council of Yukon First Nations who were all selected by the Yukon First Nations Health and Social Development Commission, are pleased to announce that Terms of Reference are now in place for the Yukon Trilateral Table on the Wellbeing of Yukon First Nations Children and Families.
Established in 2018, the Trilateral Table has provided the first real opportunity for all three parties to work together to improve child and family services for Yukon First Nations. The signing of Terms of Reference is a first step in the Trilateral Table’s work to facilitate information-sharing, and undertake collaborative decision-making on priorities, program implementation and resources. The vision of its members is for First Nations children to have equitable opportunities to grow up safely at home with their families.
The Trilateral Table’s first priority will be the development of a work plan which will guide its work, including:
- collaborative actions;
- determining future direction and potential reforms;
- alignment of current initiatives;
- setting annual targets and indicators; and
- ensuring alignment with other priority work in Yukon.
Together, partners in Yukon are working toward reducing the number of First Nations children in care, increasing proactive support for children and their families, and supporting children to grow up with strong connections to their language and culture.
“Indigenous children and families need to stay together. I’m confident that the collaborative tripartite process established between my department, Yukon First Nations and the Government of Yukon will help bring this about, allowing more Yukon First Nations children to grow up in safe and caring environments, knowing who they are and where they come from. I wish the Trilateral Table on the Wellbeing of Yukon First Nations Children and Families every success, and look forward to seeing the results of your work.”
The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services
“We recognize that reform is a collective responsibility and we all have to take action. It has to start at the community level with First Nations governments as full partners leading the way with new approaches based on prevention. We must address the healing of trauma. We need to be innovative and customize programs and services to meet the needs of our individual communities. Given our small population in Yukon and our close relationships we have the opportunity to develop best practices and best models. The Trilateral Table will advance our strong vision of healthy children, families and communities connected to their culture and language. It is only by working together that we will improve outcomes.”
The Honourable Pauline Frost
Minister, Health and Social Services, Government of Yukon
“The creation of the first-ever trilateral table for children and families is an opportunity for collaboration to address the overrepresentation of First Nations in the child welfare system. It is imperative that Yukon First Nations are equal partners in decisions impacting our children.”
Grand Chief Peter Johnston
Council of Yukon First Nations
“We are happy to have Lori Duncan (Director of C/TFN Health and Wellness Department and Representative of the Health and Social Development Commission) at the table with the Government of Canada and Yukon Government to discuss the wellbeing of Yukon First Nations children and families. Lori will bring a rural community perspective as we are the only rural First Nation community at the table. It is a great opportunity for us and we will focus on prevention, capacity and family programming as we are aiming at healing on the land for our community.”
Deputy Haa Shaa du Hen Maria Benoit
Carcross/Tagish First Nation
“We want children and families to have the resources and support they need to lead safe, healthy lives in their home communities. It is important to ensure federal child welfare funding is allocated to relevant First Nation programs where they can have the greatest effect. When providing support to Indigenous children and their families, in the Yukon, it is important to ensure the programs and services are culturally appropriate and that a more wholistic approach is taken – and in a way that benefits our children in the long term.”
Chief Doris Bill
Kwanlin Dün First Nation
The Government of Yukon provides child and family services to all Yukon residents, including First Nations children and families, in accordance with territorial legislation and standards. Indigenous Services Canada provides funding for services to First Nations children and families.
Tripartite tables, working groups and advisory committees on child and family services exist in all provinces and in Yukon, and are comprised of First Nations, Indigenous Services Canada and provincial/territorial government representatives.
Eleven of 14 Yukon First Nations have signed final land claim and self-government agreements, and can request to negotiate assumption of child and family services from the Government of Yukon. All 14 Yukon First Nations are involved in the work of the Yukon Trilateral Table on the Wellbeing of Yukon First Nations Children and Families through their participation in the Yukon First Nations Health and Social Development Commission.
In May 2018 the Government of Yukon appointed six members to the Advisory Committee on the Child and Family Services Act, including 4 Yukon First Nations people, to undertake a broad review of the act. The review is ongoing, and is a legislative requirement of the act which was proclaimed in 2010.
On February 28, 2019, the Indigenous Services Minister, Seamus O’Regan, introduced Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. Co-developed with Indigenous partners, Bill C-92 seeks to affirm Indigenous peoples’ inherent right to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services and establish national principles such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity and substantive equality.