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$40B Agreement Made Official

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The Secwépemc Child and Family Services Agency is pleased to hear news that the federal government has made official an agreement that sets aside $40 billion for Indigenous child welfare and to abide by a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling.

The CHRT ruling requires the government to pay up to $40,000 to Indigenous children and their families who were taken into foster care because of an underfunded on-reserve welfare system, retroactive to 2006. This compensation represents half of the $40 billion.

Parties have until March 31 to finalize the non-binding agreement.

Elements of the agreement include:

  • Compensation to First Nations children on-reserve and in the Yukon who were removed from their homes between April 1, 1991, and March 31, 2022.
  • Compensation to those affected by what the government called its “narrow definition” of Jordan’s Principle, used between Dec. 12, 2007, and Nov. 2, 2017.
  • Compensation extended to children who did not receive an essential public service or faced delays in accessing such services between April 1, 1991, and Dec. 11, 2007.
  • Providing support to youths aged out of care between the ages of 18 and 25, including those who are in that age bracket now.

“This historic agreement, while non-binding, is one step forward on the long road ahead in reforming the child welfare system and in ensuring substantive equity to all children and families impacted by this system,” says Yvonne Hare, SCFSA Executive Director. “Now we have to see if the federal government will make good on its promises.”

The SCFSA, as always, gives much appreciation to Cindy Blackstock, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and the Assembly of First Nations for their efforts in pressuring the federal government to honour its commitment to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling.

Agency applauds decision to honour CHRT ruling

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The Secwépemc Child and Family Services Agency is applauding news that the Canadian government will set aside $40 billion for Indigenous child welfare and abide by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling.

The ruling requires the government to pay up to $40,000 to Indigenous children and their families who were taken into foster care as a result of an underfunded on-reserve welfare system. It is retroactive to 2006.

The money is to be distributed over the next five years starting with $16 billion by the end of this year.
The other half of the money will go toward reforming the child welfare system.

“We are relieved that the federal government has decided to come to the table and work towards a solution and we hope it will abandon its efforts to continue fighting children in court,” says Yvonne Hare, SCFSA Executive Director. “While victims of historical trauma can never fully heal, this is a good first step in addressing the wrongs that were done to the children who suffered at the hands of a cruel and racist system.”

The SCFSA gives much appreciation to Cindy Blackstock, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and the Assembly of First Nations for their efforts in pressuring the federal government to honour its commitment to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling.

ABOUT US: The Secwépemc Child and Family Services Agency is an Indigenous-run child, youth and family agency that works in collaboration with Secwépemc communities to deliver family services that strengthen the family unit and uphold Secwépemc laws. Our work is guided by Secwépemc values.

BACKGROUNDER: Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Information Sheet

Framework of Practice Backgrounder

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SUMMARY/KEY POINTS

  • Introduce and provide information and gather feedback about this project
  • SCFSA strategic plan includes the creation of a framework of practice
  • The development of the framework must be lead and guided by our member communities and rooted in culture and language
  • This framework will guide agency practice in all service delivery areas

BACKGROUND
The SCFSA Strategic plan was completed by our board members representing their respective communities to guide our work over the next 5 years. Strategic Priority #2: Excellence identifies the development of a service delivery framework.
Timeline: February 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022

PROJECT MEMBERS

  • Yvonne Hare, SCFSA Executive Director
  • Natalie Clark and Jennifer Lewis, SCFSA contracted support
  • SCFSA assigned staff

WHAT ARE WE DEVELOPING?

  • A framework for cultural practice is a living document for the communities and SCFSA staff to ensure that Secwépemc cultural practices guides all aspects of organization. It will be informed by work that has already been completed within the Nation and communities and will ensure community direction and guidance. The document is a way of affirming Secwépemc teachings about family systems and raising Secwépemc children for SCFSA staff and communities.
  • Provide the vision and strategic directions for cultural practice for SCFSA.
  • Support Secwépemc communities to find their own answers to the question: How do we want to look after our children and youth? How can we keep our children and youth safe in their families?
  • Shape the kind of services that SCFSA provides. Guide the design of current and new support programs.
  • Set the mind frame and ethical orientation of the people who work with our children.

PROJECT COMPONENTS

Guidance and Direction

  • SCFSA Elder Advisory Committee
  • SCFSA Secwépemc Youth Steering Committee
  • SCFSA Community Band representatives

Community Engagement

  • Work with each band representative, elder advisor and youth steering committee member to plan and implement community engagement
  • Topic: How do you want SCFSA to practice with Secwépemc families/communities?

Gathering the Berries – Literature Review

  • Gathering work completed by Secwépemc people, communities, nation regarding children and families and cultural ways to inform the framework of cultural practice
  • Ensures that we utilize work completed already, with permission i.e. masters/PhD theses, community plans, reports, engagements, etc.

Secwépemc Art Book – “What is in my Heart”

    • Phase 1: Children and Youth
    • Phase 2: Parents – Aunts/Uncles
    • Phase 3: Grandparents
    • Participants will create art answering one of the following questions: I feel the most loved/safe/connected/proud when; What I love about my family/community; What I want to see for all children.
    • Art collected will be shared in a book to share and center the people’s voices in what is important to them.

SCFSA Mourns Passing of Founding Member Sandra Seymour

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We at the Secwépemc Child and Family Services Agency are saddened to hear about the passing of founding member and former longtime Board member Sandra Seymour. A leader for SCFSA for well over a decade on our board, Sandra made incredible contributions over the years to the children, families, and communities we serve.

As a social worker, Sandra had the idea to create an agency that would assist in protecting Indigenous children within the Secwépemc Nation. She envisioned that this agency would be led by the communities of the Secwépemc Nation, rather than an agency run by government. Sandra’s vision led to the inception of the SCFSA in 1999.

Sandra later sat as President on the SCFSA Board. As a member of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, she also served as Social Development Manager for TteS.

Sandra will be greatly missed and we will always keep her in the front of our minds as she joins her Secwépemc ancestors who guide our work at SCFSA.

 

It’s Time to Bring Home All Sacred Little Bundles

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The Secwépemc Child and Family Servies Agency holds our hands up to T’kemlups te Secwépemc, Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir, newly elected AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald and the brave Elders who spoke today at a presentation providing further information about the unmarked graves of 215 children whose remains were found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS).
We echo the calls from Kukpi7 Casimir for the federal and provincial governments to do more to help identify these sacred little bundles who were the target of genocide and assimilation, as well as the many other missing children who never made it home from Residential Schools across Canada.
There can be no reconciliation without truth, and until the full scope of these atrocities is known, until these children are “brought home,” we cannot move on to the healing that Indigenous people in this country so desperately need.
As an agency we strive to live up to the words of Elder Evelyn Camille, a Residential School survivor who spoke so eloquently and frankly about her experiences during the presentation.
“The way of life of our people and our sacred ceremonies must not be forgotten,” Evelyn said when talking about the efforts of Residential Schools to rid Indigenous children of their language, culture and traditions.
This responsibility is a sacred duty, and it drives our work in helping our communities and their children and families revitalize traditional family systems, preserve families and ensure that they maintain that vital connection to culture, community and family.
We know that when First Nations have sovereignty over their children and are properly resourced, the children do better. This is why Elder Evelyn emphasized that “we have to be responsible for our children,” as only through ensuring that our children are cared for our way can we hope to offer a better future for our families and children.
To help T’kemlups te Secwépemc in its efforts to further investigate and honour the 215, please go to tkemlups.ca/

Honouring our ancestors and upholding sacred space

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We continue to stand in grief with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and all the families of the 215 sacred children whose remains were found last week. We also continue to honour those sweet ancestors and uphold Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc for holding this sacred space for these sacred children.

The truth of all the stories that we have heard over the years as Indigenous people has finally made its way into the light. We hope that this moment will trigger truth-telling and the healing that our communities have been working towards for all these years.

Our wise elders tell us that this is a timely finding and a sign that we are ready as a people and as a society to come to terms with the harsh reality of residential schools. Reconciliation can only happen once the truth is told and accepted for what it is.

We would also like to hold our hands up and acknowledge the hard work done by all the volunteers and local restaurants (Moon Wok and Valhalla Smoke House) who kept the Flame Keepers fed this past weekend at Tk’emlups te Secwépemc.

We mourn the 215 children found at Residential School

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Weyt-kp xwexwe’ytep,

It is with a heavy heart that we are learning about the discovery on the former Kamloops Residential School grounds of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Residential School.

At 11 a.m. this morning we urge everyone, wherever they are, to pray, sing or drum — in backyards, in offices, in parking lots— as a way to honour these 215 children as well as our ancestors who died as a result of Residential Schools, and to support the healing of those who are still impacted by the truth of our history.

These undocumented deaths are part of the Residential Schools’ dark and brutal legacy of Indigenous children who were sent to these schools but who were never returned to their home communities. To learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Missing Indigenous Children Project, go to http://www.trc.ca/events-and-projects/missing-children-project.html

Counselling support is available 24/7 by calling the Indian Residential School Survivors Society at 1.800.721.0066.

Bearing Witness for Jordan’s Principle

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On May 10 our staff marked the anniversary of Jordan’s Principle with the help of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society’s Spirit Bear.

All day long, we took time to take part in an outdoors, socially distant “tea party” with the Spirit Bear and a few stuffed friends to “bear witness” to this special day. To learn more about Jordan’s Principle and the significance of the Spirit Bear, go to www.jordansprinciple.ca or https://fncaringsociety.com/BearWitness