Joint News Release – Council of Yukon First Nations, Government of Yukon, and Government of Canada
February 17, 2022 — Kwanlin (Whitehorse), Yukon — Indigenous Services Canada
Indigenous Services Canada, the Government of Yukon, Yukon First Nations and the Council of Yukon First Nations are pleased to announce the launch of the Cultural Connections Project for Yukon First Nations and Indigenous children in out-of-home care. This project will be implemented in true partnership over the next five years, to support and safeguard connection to culture and community for Yukon First Nations and Indigenous children involved in the child welfare system.
With the launch of the Cultural Connections Project, supports will be provided to connect all children in out-of-home care with their own cultures and communities. For Yukon First Nations children under the care of the Yukon Director of Family and Children’s Services, this will include a mandatory cultural plan developed collaboratively with Yukon First Nations or the Council of Yukon First Nations. Cultural plans may include individual and group cultural, linguistic, traditional and on-the-land activities to support connections with their family and community.
This project aligns with the key priorities of Yukon’s Trilateral Table on the Wellbeing of Yukon First Nations Children and Families, in particular the importance of reunification and maintaining connections between children and families. It also responds to some of the recommendations made by Yukon First Nations during the recent review of the Yukon’s Child and Family Services Act.
By enhancing Yukon First Nations’ involvement in child and family services, and by supporting children to remain connected to their communities, languages and cultures, this initiative also supports the intent and direction of the federal Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. The Act affirms the inherent rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to exercise jurisdiction in relation to their child and family services, and establishes national guiding principles that must be applied by all who provide child and family services to Indigenous children.
The Cultural Connections Project is a reflection of governments working together to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s second point in the first Call to Action. Specifically, it addresses the over-representation of Indigenous children in care and the call to keep children in culturally appropriate environments.
The Government of Canada is supporting this initiative through its First Nations Child and Family Services Program, which focuses on early prevention and assists First Nations to assert greater control over the wellbeing of their children and families. Funding is being provided for five years starting in 2021-2022, and will provide up to $12.6 million.
“Children can do their best when they are connected to family, community and culture. The Cultural Connections Project demonstrates that when partners work together, we better support the wellbeing of people and communities. Congratulations to all those who have worked so hard to bring this project to life and for keeping the focus where it matters: on the wellness and happiness of First Nations children in the Yukon.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
“All children deserve to be emotionally, physically and spiritually safe. They must be valued, loved and respected in their culture. This project reflects our commitment to reconciliation and the importance of culture and community for children involved in the child welfare system. It is also an example of true partnership and collaboration between Yukon First Nations, Canada and the Yukon.”
The Honourable Tracy-Anne McPhee
Minister of Health and Social Services, Government of Yukon
“CYFN is pleased to see this project come to fruition for the benefit of Yukon First Nations children. This project is the result of collaboration across governments and Yukon First Nations and demonstrates a commitment to ensuring that Yukon First Nations children in care are able to maintain a connection to their culture and communities.”
Grand Chief Peter Johnston
Council of Yukon First Nations
"Home is not just a physical place, but an idea molded by culture, community and family. The Cultural Connection Project launched today, is another step forward in real partnership with Yukon First Nations, to ensure the provision of culturally appropriate and community led supports for indigenous children in care. After a long journey, I am pleased to see it become a reality."
The Honourable Bendan Hanley
Member of Parliament for Yukon
The Government of Yukon provides child and family services to all Yukon residents, including First Nations children and families, in accordance with the Yukon’s Child and Family Services Act which came into force in 2010.
Indigenous Services Canada provides funding, delivered in the Yukon by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, to support service delivery for First Nations children and families.
An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families was co-developed in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #4, and came into force on January 1, 2020. The federal Act aims to reduce the number of Indigenous children and youth in care and improve child and family services.
The final report of the Yukon Government’s Child and Family Services Act Review Advisory Committee - called Embracing the Children of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - was tabled in the Yukon’s Legislative Assembly in October 2019.
About 90 percent of children and youth in the care of the Yukon Director of Family and Children’s Services are Indigenous.
The Yukon Trilateral Table on the Wellbeing of Yukon First Nations Children and Families presents a venue for developing initiatives to improve child and family services, and reduce the number of First Nations children in care in the Yukon. Along with Canada, Yukon, and the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Trilateral Table also includes representatives of urban and rural Yukon First Nations as chosen by Yukon First Nations.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
Communications, Council of Yukon First Nations
Cabinet Communications, Government of Yukon
Communications, Health and Social Services, Government of Yukon
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