Aboriginal Advisor To The Minister Of Children And Youth Services
John Beaucage, Ontario's first Aboriginal Advisor to the Minister of Children and Youth Services, will provide advice on Aboriginal child welfare issues for a period of one year. A key part of his mandate is to facilitate discussions between the Minister and Aboriginal leaders on Aboriginal child welfare issues, and provide advice on Aboriginal child welfare policy matters. He will also be available as an expert resource to the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare.
John Beaucage was Chief of Wasauksing First Nation before being elected as Grand Council Chief in 2004. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, with a combined degree in English and economics, he has done post-graduate work in First Nation planning at the University of British Columbia.
Since leaving his position as Grand Council Chief, Beaucage has served on a number of boards and is working on developing green energy projects with several First Nations across the country.
Eyaabay (John Beaucage's traditional name) is a Pipe Carrier from the Bear Clan. A citizen of Wasauksing First Nation, he was raised on the Shawanaga First Nation and has extended family in Nipissing First Nation.
MANDATE OF THE ABORIGINAL ADVISOR
The mandate of the Advisor is to:
- facilitate discussion between the Minister and Aboriginal leaders on Aboriginal child welfare issues
- provide advice on Aboriginal child welfare policy matters
- engage with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal partners concerned with Aboriginal child welfare
- provide advice to the Minister on input from Aboriginal leadership on child welfare issues, including the Child and Family Services Act, the Tripartite Table, and the designation of Aboriginal children's aid societies.
ABORIGINAL CHILD PROTECTION SERVICES
- The Child and Family Services Act recognizes the distinct social and cultural needs of Indian and native people and notes that, wherever possible, services under the Act should be provided "in a manner that recognizes their culture, heritage and traditions and the concept of the extended family."
- The ministry has recently completed the first review of the Indian and native provisions of the Child and Family Services Act. Feedback from that review reflected Aboriginal concerns related to the insufficient use of customary care, the need to develop strategies to increase the availability of Aboriginal approaches to alternative dispute resolution, and the need to provide tools to assist in the development of formal protocols and agreements for child welfare between CASs and Aboriginal communities.
- Six of the 53 Ontario children's aid societies are Aboriginal child protection agencies. Five of these CASs serve populations in northern Ontario and one, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, provides services in Toronto.
- Five northern Aboriginal children's aid societies serve 63 of Ontario's 134 First Nation communities:
- Tikinagan Child and Family Services serves 30 First Nations in the remote north
- Weechi-it-te-win Family Services serves 10 First Nations in the Rainy River and Kenora Districts
- Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services serves 13 First Nations around Thunder Bay and the north shore of Lake Superior
- Payukotayno: James and Hudson Bay Family Services serves five First Nations along the Hudson and James Bay coast. It also provides services to the Town of Moosonee, and native and non-native residents of the coast
- Anishinaabe Abinoojii Child and Family Services serves five Treaty #3 First Nations (Grassy Narrows, Wabaseemoong, Whitefish Bay, Washagamis Bay and Rat Portage) and its members who live off-reserve within the District of Rainy River and in the southwest part of the District of Kenora
- Aboriginal children at risk in areas not covered by Aboriginal children's aid societies are served by local children's aid societies.
Ontario has taken important steps to support Aboriginal CASs, including:
- $2.5 million in one-time funding to all Aboriginal CASs in recognition of the extraordinary circumstances facing Aboriginal children and communities
- Funding of $2.1 million to Tikinagan Child and Family Services for an in-year service volume increase and further funding for children's mental health workers to respond to immediate needs in the Pikangikum community
- $2 million in funding for children's mental health workers to Payukotayno James and Hudson Bay Family Services to ensure the agency can continue to do the essential work it needs to do in communities around James and Hudson Bay
- Ending the previous government's moratorium on new CASs and designating two new Aboriginal CASs.
OTHER SUPPORTS TO ABORIGINAL CHILDREN AND YOUTH
The ministry supports child well-being and prevention initiatives that are targeted to First Nation children, youth and families, including:
- Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children program, delivered by the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy, provides culturally relevant family home visiting services to Aboriginal families both on and off reserve
- Aboriginal Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Child Nutrition Program delivered by 18 Aboriginal organizations across Ontario
- The Akwe:go and Wasa-Nabin programs, delivered by the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, promotes healthy development in ways that respect cultural backgrounds and traditions
- The Student Nutrition Program, administered by the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, helps provide healthy snacks and meals to children and youth participating in Akwe:go and Wasa-Nabin programs.