Philpott says Indigenous child services legislation can be a ‘clarion call’

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott said families should not be torn apart because they are poor or because parents have health problems

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says the federal government’s proposed legislation on Indigenous child services can be a clarion call across Canada to stop scooping children from families needlessly.

Speaking at a gathering of Assembly of First Nations chiefs at an Ottawa hotel Wednesday, Philpott said families should not be torn apart because they are poor or because parents have health problems.

“I don’t think any of us are naive. We don’t think a piece of legislation will all by itself turn the tide on what’s going on in this country. But I believe it can be a turning point. I believe it can be a clarion call, a call across the nation to say no more,” said Philpott.

“No more scooping First Nations children from their families and communities, no more tearing apart your families. No more lost children who don’t know their language, their culture, their heritage,” she added.

The federal government announced last week that it plans to introduce legislation on child services co-developed with Indigenous groups in the new year, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirming Tuesday the bill will come in January.

Philpott said that legislation, coupled with the work the government is doing together with Indigenous people, “can draw a line in the sands of time.”

READ MORE: Indigenous children still being treated unequally by provinces: advocate

The broad strokes of the bill were set over the last year in consultation with Indigenous leaders and families after an outcry from parents and communities that children were not being properly cared for.

“Every single day in this country on our watch, while we all are leaders, we know someone is walking into the home of one of your people, or into a hospital room where a young woman has given birth and are taking that child away,” said Philpott.

She said the reason that’s given is “neglect,” which places blame on parents and families, when very often the real neglect is society’s fault.

In a question-and-answer session, more than one chief thanked Philpott for the work being done on the child-welfare legislation, with one chief telling Philpott she’s the best minister for Indigenous services they have ever had.

But chiefs also asked for reassurance that funding would continue through Jordan’s Principle, which requires that First Nation children receive equal access to government services regardless whether they live on or off reserves, and Philpott said Trudeau understands that the funding available under Jordan’s Principle has to continue.

The principle is named for a First Nations boy from Manitoba named Jordan River Anderson, who died in 2005 amid a battle between provincial and federal governments over which of them was responsible for his health care. The federal government has historically underfunded services it’s responsible for on reserves, compared with what provinces do for everyone else.

Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack Mural Festival comes alive in the downtown core

‘Murals offer a safe way for people to enjoy socially distanced artwork,’ says organizer

Chilliwack museum looking for public feedback on exhibits

Online survey will help drive three-year plan for future exhibit possibilities

Mission man who nearly died from COVID-19 at Abbotsford hospital reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Lavender hand sanitizer sale raises cash for Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Golf course and lavender farm partner up to support health care in the Fraser Valley

Donations of fresh produce sought from Chilliwack backyard gardeners

Hamper program from Chilliwack Citizens for Change to serve those with special dietary needs

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read