STC Chief calls social services agreement with province “monumental”
- NC Raine | March 18, 2019
New social services agreements, working towards improving the lives of Indigenous children, youth, and families, have been signed by the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC).
A total of three agreements – the Delegation Agreement, the Children and Families Reconciliation Partnership Agreement, and First Contact Panel Protocol – were signed on Friday, March 15th in Saskatoon by Premier Scott Moe, STC Tribal Chief Mark Arcand, and chiefs from the member First Nations.
“This important step towards a new relationship between our government and the Saskatoon Tribal Council is a clear demonstration of our shared, unwavering commitment to putting Saskatchewan children, Saskatchewan youth, ad families first,” said Premier Moe at a press conference. “I can think of no work that is more important than providing supports for our children as we take this step together.”
The Children and Families Reconciliation Partnership Agreement identifies a number of short and long term priorities, including: ensuring children and youth in care are supported in community, culture, language, and identity; exploring options for emergency housing with the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation; developing further resources with the Ministry of Justice for parents and children fleeing domestic violence; establishing a joint Child Welfare Innovation Committee and Leaders Forum; and working with new mothers to provide better supports, reduce trauma, and keep families together.
“As a government, we recognize how critical the connections of family, community, culture, identity, tradition, and language are to our children. The agreement reached today solidifies that the Saskatoon Tribal Council and Government of Saskatchewan have a shared commitment to the safety and wellbeing of First Nations children and youth,” said Moe.
The Delegation Agreement, also signed on Friday, re-establishes STC and Family Services Agency, which will provide services on reserve to the 17 member bands. The First Contact Panel Protocol, signed by STC and Social Services, will ensure families are involved during child protection matters in planning and decision making for children.
“Today is a monumental day,” said STC Chief Mark Arcand. “Now we can really work together to stop a system that has (previously) been negative.”
Arcand said he hopes this historic agreement can create positive developments for communities around the country.
“The system we are about to change, will be a model that hopefully other First Nations can use, other provinces, other territories, to put children first, to put families first,” he said. “Please talk to your families, talk to your friends, about how we're going to work together to make a difference in people's lives.”
Social Services Minister Paul Merriman reflected on the shared principles and priorities that lead to the signing of these agreements.
“The documents we have signed today provide the province and STC with a vision, principles and actions that will guide our work in the days ahead, based on mutual respect, understanding, collaboration, and dialogue,” said Merriman. “This is a significant moment and a tremendous opportunity to do things differently and make real change.”