January 31, 2018
The Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office, as part of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates, participated in last week’s emergency meeting on Indigenous child welfare in Ottawa, convened by Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett.
As an independent office of the Legislative Assembly, the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office supports children and youth in protecting their rights and having their views considered when receiving or eligible to receive services provided by Yukon Government.
The Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office is concerned about the high rates of Indigenous children in Yukon in need of protection and living in placements away from their families and communities. In 2016-17, 78% of the advocacy issues addressed were for First Nations’ children and youth.
“Too many Indigenous children have experienced harm for generations and the trauma continues today", states Deputy Child and Youth Advocate Bengie Clethero, who attended the Ottawa meeting on behalf of the Child and Youth Advocate Office; “protection of children needs to be paramount and child welfare interventions need to focus on safety and support at the family and community levels. Healing offered in a wide variety of approaches can enhance community capacity to care for their children”.
Creating change is a collective responsibility requiring comprehensive and coordinated attention and action across the country. It must involve community consultation and include the voices of children and youth who continue to be negatively impacted by these unresolved disparities.
“The upcoming review of the Child and Family Services Act provides an opportunity to review the effectiveness of the interventions at all stages of the child welfare system, from prevention to permanency”, states Annette King, Child and Youth Advocate; “it is important to put an emphasis on the strengths of community, culture and family for building and restoring community connections with children; historically this was overlooked and discouraged”.
The Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office believes that all child welfare interventions should be child-rights focussed acts of reconciliation that highlight the voices of young people. The Office calls on all service providers to fully implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children and to track progress on implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.