Alberta won't wait to support Indigenous children and families
By Danielle Larivee, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake
On January 26th I attended the Government of Canada’s emergency meeting in Ottawa to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care. I was honoured to represent families in Lesser Slave Lake, and all Albertans, at this critical meeting.
The overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care, and the disparity between what child protection services the provinces fund compared to what the federal government funds on reserve, are not new issues, nor are they issues specific to Alberta. Indigenous children and families have been left behind because of a lack of political will for far too long.
We’ve seen governments at all levels, and of all political stripes, trying to impose solutions on Indigenous communities. We’ve seen the effects of historic trauma on generations of Indigenous families ignored. All of this is wrong – and we didn’t need another meeting to know that. After decades of studies, recommendations, meetings and court orders – enough is enough.
The Federal government has indicated there will be increased funding to address overrepresentation in their next budget, and I am cautiously optimistic that this will lead to better outcomes for children and families here in Alberta. One thing is clear: It’s long past time for the Federal government to meet their commitments to Indigenous communities.
In the meantime, Alberta won’t wait, and we won’t let Indigenous children wait any longer. We’re getting down to work.
Alberta is already taking steps to fill the gap where the Federal government doesn’t. Indigenous leaders in Alberta say they want to work with the province now, on developing community-led solutions that work for them. I’m looking forward to continuing to take action to make that happen.
True reconciliation doesn’t happen at the level of Ministerial meetings, it by listening to indigenous communities and collaborating to develop shared solutions. That’s what Alberta intends to continue to work towards. For me, this is about taking action toward reconciliation.
I’m proud of the work we’ve done in Alberta, in the spirit of partnership and reconciliation, to empower Indigenous communities to support their families. For example, Alberta’s first licensed on-reserve child care centre, operated by Kapawe’no First Nation, means families in that community have access to child care subsidies for the first time. We are also currently engaging Sixties Scoop survivors across the province on a meaningful apology and steps toward healing. Our government has also established protocol agreements with Treaty 8, Blackfoot Confederacy, and the Metis Nation.
Our government is committed to reconciliation, to a renewed relationship with Indigenous communities, and meaningful action to end historic injustices. After this meeting, I feel hopeful, and encouraged by signs that the Federal government, and my counterparts across Canada, share that commitment.
First published Feb. 7, 2018, in the South Peace News