Indigenous Perspectives Society

IN Perspective

IN Perspective – Summer 2017

The Summer 2017 IN Perspective is out and available to read here. This season’s newsletter features the following articles:

    • Executive Update
    • Message from the Representative for Children and Youth
    • Training Participant Profiles
    • BLOOMM Update
    • Cultural Perspectives Training
    • Button Blanket Project
    • Training Update

Summer 2017 IN Perspective

Sign up to receive our quarterly edition of IN Perspective using the sign up feature at the bottom right corner of this page.

If you have any questions about IN Perspective or would like to have your news or event posted in our next newsletter send us an email using the contact page on our website.

How to be an Ally to Indigenous People

AllyMy parents immigrated to British Columbia from Northern California two years before I was born. They came for the beautiful nature, the opportunities to build a life, and the vision of Canada as a free and just country that is presented internationally. I was fortunate to grow up in the interior plateau area of the province in Kamloops. Kamloops is a city where communities are divided by the rivers, with the local Indigenous people, the Secwepemc, having been moved to the opposite side of the river from where the city grew on their traditional lands.

Growing up there, I remember not understanding why the community was divided, and why Indigenous people were insulted, bullied, and marginalized. I remembered hearing hurtful comments and hateful stereotypes shared by the adults around me, and feeling upset and confused because many of the students I went to school with were Indigenous and I knew those comments were wrong and did not apply to who they were as people. In high-school, a friend of mine and I would do our best to defend one boy who was regularly bullied by members of the senior football team. As an adult, another friend shared that as a teenager he took up skateboarding in part so that he would have a weapon to defend himself from groups of guys that thought it was fun to gang up on a younger kid.

Thanks to the enormous work of several leaders from communities across Canada, collectively we are coming to terms with the impact that international colonization of Indigenous territories in Canada has had on generations of families in hundreds of communities throughout the nation. As the deliberate and unjust treatment of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples resulting from the desire to take control of territories and resources continues to be revealed, thanks to many courageous people willing to stand up for their rights, each one of us called upon to do our work as an ally. The dedication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and their 94 Calls to Action, along with individuals and organizations who are stepping up to accept their responsibilities in repairing the wrong actions of history, have helped bring to light the darkness that is foundation of this nation.

We are part of a transformative time in which we all have an imperative to take action. It has been eight years since the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly, and Canada joined in support of the declaration on May 10, 2016 of last year. Becoming an ally to Indigenous people often has uncomfortable moments where we are confronted by the racism of the world around us, and our own outdated beliefs from our upbringing. In a world of entrenched belief systems evolved from our histories, there is often not a lot of support from communities from all backgrounds. It takes initiative and courage, and these actions are essential for leading with integrity as we step into the future.

While a few Indigenous people have taken on the task of educating all of us about our collective history, while at the same time healing their own deep wounds, this work is not their responsibility. Allies need to take on the task of social transformation, and share the responsibility of ensuring we move into a future built on integrity, good relationships, and trust.

Dr. Lynne Gehl has clearly identified the roles and responsibilities of an ally in her Ally Bill of Responsibilities, and reflecting and reading through this list is a great place to start. Think about what on her list challenges your beliefs, question why, and look at places where you can easily engage and take action. Red Rising Magazine also has a great article on Being and Indigenous Ally. Find your knowledge gaps and explore ways to learn by visiting cultural centers, going on tours, celebrating National Aboriginal Day on June 21, and participating in training and workshops.

We all have an imperative to do our part, both collectively and individually to help support Indigenous self-determination to repair and rebuild the damage done to communities and peoples. As allies, we must examine how our systems of governance and economics have been built, how our social beliefs are constructed, and explore what each one of us can do to help transform our relationships, workplaces, and communities to truly become the safe and just country we proclaim ourselves to be.

Resources:

Ally Bill of Responsibilities, http://www.lynngehl.com/my-ally-bill-of-responsibilities.html

National Aboriginal Day, June 21, https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100013718/1100100013719

FAQ on being an Indigenous Ally, http://redrisingmagazine.ca/faq-on-being-an-indigenous-ally/

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html

Canada officially adopts UN declaration on rights of Indigenous Peoples, http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/canada-adopting-implementing-un-rights-declaration-1.3575272

About the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1450124405592/145012445612

About the Author

Alesha Doran is the Business Development Coordinator for the Indigenous Perspectives Society – Creating Excellence through Training and Leadership. A non-indigenous ally, Alesha was born and raised in Secwepemc territory and now enjoys life in beautiful Lkwungen territory on southern Vancouver Island. For more information on Cultural Perspectives Training email her at aleshad@ipsociety.ca and visit www.ipsociety.ca

What Is Jordan’s Principle And Why Does It Matter?

Jordan's Principle(1)Jordan’s Principle functions as an essential mechanism for ensuring human, constitutional, and treaty rights of Indigenous children. By establishing a procedure to guarantee immediate care for Indigenous children, Jordan’s Principle provides access to public services ordinarily available to other Canadian children so Indigenous children do not experience service denials, delays, or disruptions related to their First Nations status.

Jordan’s Principle is named to honour Jordan River Anderson, an Indigenous child from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba. Jordan was born with Carey Fineman Ziter Syndrome, a rare muscular disorder that required medical treatment in a Winnipeg hospital. After spending the first two years of his life in a hospital, doctors felt he could return home. A disagreement between the province of Manitoba and the Canadian federal government on who should pay for his at home care caused Jordan to remain the hospital, and he died at the age of five years old in 2005. Jordan never knew what it was like to live in his family home.

After reflecting on Jordan’s Principle, I was reminded of when at 5 years old I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks with severe pneumonia. I shared a room with a girl who had polio. During the time I was there a couple of other children came and went. The nurses and doctors where nice, but it was lonely and frightening. I can’t imagine if that was my whole world.

Responsibility for services to First Nations children is often shared by federal, provincial/territorial, and First Nations governments; in contrast, funding and delivery of these same services to most other children in Canada falls solely under provincial/territorial jurisdiction. Canadian federal and provincial governments often dispute financial responsibility for services for Indigenous children, resulting in children being left waiting for services they desperately need. Due to structural racism in Canadian systems of governance and healthcare, Indigenous children are denied services that are available to other children.

A Members Motion (M-296) endorsing the adoption of Jordan’s Principle was unanimously passed in the Canadian House of Commons in 2007. The federal government subsequently led a governmental response to Jordan’s Principle, facilitating the development of federal and provincial/territorial policies and procedures for identifying Jordan’s Principle cases and resolving jurisdictional disputes over payment or provision of services to individual First Nations children. This process resulted in a limited application of Jordan’s Principle by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to children living on reserve with a disability or short-term condition.

In a landmark ruling on January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the federal government to immediately stop applying a limited and discriminatory definition of Jordan’s Principle, and to immediately take measures to implement the full meaning and scope of the principle.

On July 6, 2016, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada submitted a compliance report to the Tribunal providing an update on its implementation of the principle. In the submission, the government committed to invest up to $382 million to implement a broader application of Jordan’s Principle.

The governmental response to the application of Jordan’s Principle does not reflect the vision and intention for service delivery advanced by First Nations and endorsed by the House of Commons. Reviews by the Canadian Paediatric Society and UNICEF Canada have highlighted shortcomings in the governmental response to Jordan’s Principle, and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society is asking for all governments to work together to fully practice the intention and spirit of Jordan’s Principle.

Additional Resources:

About the Author

Alesha Doran is the Business Development Coordinator for the Indigenous Perspectives Society – Creating Excellence through Training and Leadership. A non-indigenous ally, Alesha was born and raised in Secwepemc territory and now enjoys life in beautiful Lkwungen territory on southern Vancouver Island. For more information on Cultural Perspectives Training email her at aleshad@ipsociety.ca and visit www.ipsociety.ca

Participant Profile – Beryl Park, Aboriginal Social Work

Berly for webI am the Executive Director for the Heiltsuk Kaxla Society and we are a level C3 Delegated Child Welfare Agency. My mother is Haida and my father is Irish-English, and I grew up for my first ten years in Haida Gwaii and then my family moved to live in the city. My Haida name translated to English means always doing something, it was my great-aunts name. I went back home as an adult and spent 6 years there helping set up our own child protection agency.

I was asked to come for a training refresher as I had been out of the country for three years, and needed update my knowledge and skills. I was unsure about the experience at first, but I am really enjoying the training and I think it is excellent. Indigenous Perspectives Society’s training is like a condensed university course, and I think it should be accredited. It is a great experience to be in the room with young workers and with others in the profession. Going through the coursework and through discussion, you can see things you already know from a new perspective and gain valuable insights.

I just love the work – When they asked me when I became a social worker it started for me as a young child in a rural community. I have always wanted to be a helper, some people know they are drummers or artists and I knew I wanted to help people. Directly helping families is where the best work is done.  When I was younger I wanted to be an administrator, but then I realized the most rewarding part of this work is being able to work directly and respectfully with people. The most important thing for working with a family is everyone understanding the family’s circumstances and respecting them. Creating a network of support is how to really help people, and brings everyone together.

This is my last job before retirement and I am hoping all my knowledge can be transferred over to young workers. Heltsiuk wants their own people to manage the organization, so I am training young people to take on management roles. When I go, the organization will have its own people leading.

It is important to have people in the community managing child welfare who know their own culture and the families. When you are from a community’s culture, you understand that a messy house does not mean that children are being neglected and need to be taken away, just that it is the way people in that community live. I have seen more success helping families by going in with deep respect and listening to what people have to say about what is going on in their own home. They know what is going on and can identify what is happening. I have only had three children not be able to go back to their homes and that is because their special needs made it impossible to manage without the supports of care, and even then we made sure structures are in place to ensure connection is maintained.

More information about Indigenous Perspectives Society’s Aboriginal Social Work program can be found at http://ipsociety.ca/delegated-agency-support-training/social-work/

IN Perspective – Spring 2017

The Spring 2017 IN Perspective is out and available to read here. This season’s newsletter features the following articles:

    • Executive Update
    • Message from the Representative for Children and Youth
    • Training Participant Profiles
    • BLOOMM Update
    • Cultural Perspectives Training
    • Button Blanket Project
    • Training Update

Spring 2017 IN Perspective

Sign up to receive our quarterly edition of IN Perspective using the sign up feature at the bottom right corner of this page.

If you have any questions about IN Perspective or would like to have your news or event posted in our next newsletter send us an email using the contact page on our website.