This month the Assembly of First Nations and Government of Canada announced the preliminary details of a $40 billion Agreement in Principle (AIP). The AIP includes compensation for young First Nations people harmed by Canada’s discriminatory child welfare system and future investments in First Nations communities to reform this system.
During their press event on January 5, 2022 Canada spoke words that many of us have waiting a long to hear- that the Government of Canada had knowingly, and generationally, underfunded children and families and this underfunding causes significant ongoing harm to our children and families. As recent as this September the federal government was fighting our kids in court, so this admission represents an important turning point.
While the fine details of the Agreement in Principle are being worked out, I am optimistic that the substantive change we have been fighting so long for is imminent.
On January 6, 2022 Indigenous Child and Family Services Directors, Dr. Cindy Blackstock and Dr. Helaina Gaspard hosted a webinar to bring our agencies and Chiefs of BC up to speed on the AIP. You can watch the webinar here on the new Indigenous Child and Family Service Directors Youtube Channel
Discussion covered the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal background, what this agreement means for First Nations and next steps in the finalizing the agreement.
While there remain many unknowns and there is much work ahead to finalize this agreement, I want to offer a few issues that we are following closely,
- This agreement is focused on First Nations on reserve. We have dire prevention needs for First Nations and Indigenous families living off-reserve, the Province will play an important role to make sure equitable funding is available to support prevention services off-reserve.
- There is uncertainty about how First Nations who have entered jurisdiction agreements may participate in this agreement
- In BC, a proper baseline for funding has not been established because we have only been receiving needs-based prevention funding for 3 years. The business plan model for needs-based prevention funding must continue in BC.
While we work on communication materials that are specific to our BC context I encourage you to visit the AFN website and read their Bulletin
We continue to monitor the negotiations closely and will provide further updates as they become available.