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SA国际影视传媒楳onumentalSA国际影视传媒 AFN child welfare deal close as chiefs press concerns

National chief says agreement will top the $20B promised as part of a landmark settlement
National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill, Wednesday, April 17. Nepinak says the AFN is about to finalize a deal with Ottawa on child-welfare reforms that will top the $20 billion promised as part of a landmark settlement. The Canadian Press file photo/Adrian Wyld

The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says the organization is about to finalize a deal with Ottawa on child welfare reforms that will top the $20 billion promised as part of a landmark settlement.

But it likely wonSA国际影视传媒檛 include reforms to a legal rule, JordanSA国际影视传媒檚 Principle, intended to ensure First Nations kids get the care they need when they need it with payments to be worked out afterward.

Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak is calling it a SA国际影视传媒渕onumental agreementSA国际影视传媒 and said she will continue to work with chiefs before they ratify it later this year.

SA国际影视传媒淭ime is not our friend SA国际影视传媒 thereSA国际影视传媒檚 a (federal) election in a year or less,SA国际影视传媒 Woodhouse Nepinak said in an interview Tuesday.

SA国际影视传媒淚 think the chiefs will be very happy with what ISA国际影视传媒檝e been negotiating alongside the Assembly of First Nations, alongside other parties. WeSA国际影视传媒檙e trying our best.SA国际影视传媒

Woodhouse NepinakSA国际影视传媒檚 comments come after three regional chiefs representing more than half of First Nations recently penned a letter to her saying the assembly is overstepping by making decisions about reforms without consulting children and families.

The chiefs, representing First Nations in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Quebec-Labrador, said the organization is not being transparent in its negotiations for a final settlement agreement.

Woodhouse Nepinak refuted that assertion, and said the executive team, of which those three chiefs are members, has been briefed throughout the process. She said the other chiefs will have 120 days to review the agreement before itSA国际影视传媒檚 brought to a special chiefs assembly in the fall to vote on.

Chiefs Bobby Cameron, Terry Teegee and Ghislain Picard said the assembly has refused to call meetings on the negotiations since February, and it has imposed terms of reference that interfere with an independent expert advisory committee responsible for developing and implementing a work plan to reform Indigenous Services Canada.

As a result, they said, Canada is now only prepared to fund the advisory committee for activities the assembly authorizes.

The assembly said the draft agreement will be publicly available to chiefs in full.

The three regional chiefs also raised concerns that the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, which jointly launched the human-rights complaint that led to the settlement agreement, is being frozen out.

Woodhouse Nepinak said the AFN SA国际影视传媒渋s not responsible for other parties if they leave tables or not.SA国际影视传媒

Cindy Blackstock, who heads the Caring Society, pulled out of the agreement in principle, citing concerns with JordanSA国际影视传媒檚 Principle as she brought forward another non-compliance motion to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal against Ottawa earlier this year.

But the agreement being worked on with Ottawa is unlikely to include funding to ensure JordanSA国际影视传媒檚 Principle is followed, Woodhouse Nepinak said.

The legal principle says First Nations children must receive the health care and social services they need even if there is a jurisdictional dispute over which government should pay for it.

SA国际影视传媒淭hatSA国际影视传媒檚 a separate issue,SA国际影视传媒 Woodhouse Nepinak said. SA国际影视传媒淪o we can start talking about that in the fall.SA国际影视传媒

The complaint that led to the settlement revolved around allegations that OttawaSA国际影视传媒檚 underfunding of on-reserve child welfare services amounted to discrimination, and that First Nations children were denied equal access to support including school supplies and medical equipment.

Adversely affected

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found in 2016 that First Nations are adversely affected by the services provided by the government and, in some cases, denied services as a result of the governmentSA国际影视传媒檚 involvement.

One representative plaintiff in the class action for JordanSA国际影视传媒檚 Principle families, Carolyn Buffalo, is a mother from Montana First Nation in Maskwacis, Alta.

Shortly after the Federal Court approved the settlement last year, she spoke about frustrations in trying to get her son care for his cerebral palsy on-reserve, despite JordanSA国际影视传媒檚 Principle being adopted by the federal government in 2007.

SA国际影视传媒淩eforming the system of child and family services and putting it back into the hands of First Nations, thatSA国际影视传媒檚 what weSA国际影视传媒檙e talking about right now,SA国际影视传媒 said Woodhouse Nepinak, adding JordanSA国际影视传媒檚 Principle work will continue through other processes.

SA国际影视传媒淚SA国际影视传媒檓 just here trying to pull out money from the federal government,SA国际影视传媒 she said. SA国际影视传媒淚 wish the Caring Society would come back to the table.SA国际影视传媒

Blackstock said in an interview Tuesday she had already expected the reforms to cost more than $20 billion, given increases to the population and inflation.

But she questioned how much room there will be for chiefs to voice their concerns once they are presented with the draft agreement. And as some First Nations, including in Alberta, donSA国际影视传媒檛 participate in the assembly, she questioned how their voices and concerns will be heard, too.

SA国际影视传媒淚f youSA国际影视传媒檙e handing me a document and itSA国际影视传媒檚 going to affect my children for the next X number of years, now and for many generations to come, I get to have a say in that,SA国际影视传媒 Blackstock said.

SA国际影视传媒淎nd, more importantly, my community does as well. There needs to be adequate time for people to look at it at the nation level, and then maybe even do community consultations around it.SA国际影视传媒

Her critique stretched to Indigenous Services Canada, too, saying Canada has a duty to consult with First Nations, and it SA国际影视传媒渟eems to be just passing the buck to the AFN SA国际影视传媒 ItSA国际影视传媒檚 CanadaSA国际影视传媒檚 responsibility to do honour of the Crown and not discharge its consultation mandate with First Nations.SA国际影视传媒

Indigenous Services Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Blackstock said the Caring Society left the agreement in principle because the process SA国际影视传媒渨as not achieving the goal of ending discrimination,SA国际影视传媒 but added it has always been open to participation in the final settlement agreement.



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