Prime minister, Sask. premier to sign child welfare agreement with Cowessess First Nation

·2 min read
Chief Cadmus Delorme says Cowessess First Nation has finalized a deal that will see it retake control of children in care.  (Rob Kruk/CBC - image credit)
Chief Cadmus Delorme says Cowessess First Nation has finalized a deal that will see it retake control of children in care. (Rob Kruk/CBC - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe are set to sign an agreement that will see Cowessess First Nation retake jurisdiction of child welfare, according to Chief Cadmus Delorme.

The agreement will be signed at the First Nation in a ceremony on Tuesday, Delorme said.

Cowessess has not had decision-making power over children in care since it was stripped of it in 1951, according to a letter distributed by Delorme on Monday.

More than 80 per cent of children in care in Saskatchewan are Indigenous, according to a 2018 children's advocate report.

That began to change with 2019's passage of An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families, aimed at reducing the number of youth in care and allowing communities to create their own child-welfare systems.

Cowessess did that in 2020, when it asserted its inherent rights over its children and families.

Delorme's letter says the federal and provincial governments have agreed to help fund the program.

Details, including on the nature of the funding, were not immediately available.

The event will be held at the First Nation's Pow Wow Arbour at 2 p.m. CST on Tuesday. Attendance will be limited to 150 people.

The visit by Trudeau will also mark the first time the prime minister has visited the First Nation since Cowessess announced preliminary findings of 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Residential School last month.

Trudeau's daily schedule confirmed he and Moe would be at the First Nation for an announcement.

Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for survivors and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

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