A unique forum on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) that saw children, youth, caregivers and key decision-makers come together recently in Victoria has highlighted the need for impactful and positive change to the system of supports for a population of young people that has generally been underserved.
I wish to express my extreme disappointment at today’s action by the federal government to fight a recent Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruling that ordered compensation for First Nations children and families affected by Canada’s discriminatory on-reserve child welfare system.
Today, on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention and Support Day, I want to acknowledge the voices and experiences of children and youth with FASD.
FASD is a diverse neurological condition that affects each person differently. Those with FASD face some incredible challenges, but each child and youth also has individual strengths, talents and abilities.
Today's Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruling represents a tangible recognition of the horrendous human rights violations that have been inflicted upon First Nations, Métis and Inuit children and families. This ruling, that orders compensation for First Nations children and some parents and grandparents affected by a discriminatory on-reserve child welfare system, is long overdue. After all the stalling and resistance, it’s about time the federal government honoured the 2016 CHRT ruling on First Nations child welfare.
The very thorough and comprehensive report entitled Oversight of Contracted Residential Services for Children and Youth in Care that was released last week by British Columbia’s Auditor General Carol Bellringer raises serious concerns – yet again – about a system of contracted residential services for children and youth in care that is no system at all and which continues to be beset by a litany of shortcomings.
This National Indigenous Peoples Day, it is more important than ever that we use the occasion to take action towards reconciliation. This is not symbolic, nor is it simply an aspirational goal. As recent initiatives such as the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls have so clearly shown, it’s time for every one of us to do something, because good intentions are not enough.
The release of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is an important milestone for social justice in Canada. This exhaustive document, comprising more than 1,000 pages, explains why Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals have been, and continue to be, subject to horrendous violence, abuse and overarching injustices in our society.
This is the ninth consecutive year that British Columbia is marking Child and Youth in Care Week, a time to honour young people living in the care of the government. As it is the first such occasion for me as your Representative, I want to pass on this important message directly to the more than 6,000 of you in various forms of care:
Children’s rights in Canada were under siege in 2018. Young people who are marginalized, vulnerable and involved with government systems, saw their rights curtailed and voices silenced. It is imperative that Canadians join us to demand their governments act to advance and uphold the rights of children and youth. To not take action is to fail them.
It has been my distinct pleasure during the past few days to appear at a number of events in Kelowna and Kamloops to celebrate Social Work Week in British Columbia, honouring those who have dedicated their careers to helping children, youth and families.