The Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) officially signed agreements on Friday, March 15 to work toward “meaningful improvements in the lives of children, youth and families.”
“These agreements demonstrate our government’s unwavering commitment to putting children, youth and families first, and to strengthening services for First Nations families,” Premier Scott Moe said. “This is an important step toward a new working relationship between the province and the Saskatoon Tribal Council, and I am proud to be part of it.”
Social Services Minister Paul Merriman, Tribal Chief Mark Arcand and STC Chiefs signed a new Delegation Agreement, Children and Families Reconciliation Partnership Agreement and First Contact Panel Protocol.
“The documents we have signed today provide the province and Saskatoon Tribal Council with a vision, principles and actions that will guide our work in the days ahead, based on mutual respect, understanding, collaboration and dialogue,” Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said. “This is a significant moment and a tremendous opportunity to do things differently and make real change in the lives of Indigenous children, youth and families.”
“The signing of this reconciliation partnership agreement today signifies a new era in the advancement of the reconciliation process, where we all work together to put children first,” STC Tribal Chief Mark Arcand said. As leaders for First Nations communities within the Treaty 4 and 6 territories, our Chiefs want nothing more than to develop and maintain a positive nation-to-nation relationship with the Government of Canada and the province of Saskatchewan, and today begins a journey together toward our shared responsibility to protect the best interests of our children and families, now and for generations to come.”
The partnership agreement identifies a number of short-term and longer-term priorities, including:
• Reviewing plans for STC First Nations children and youth in care to ensure they support connections to culture, language, identity and community;
• Exploring options to repurpose Saskatchewan Housing Corporation units to provide emergency and other services for STC children, youth and families;
• Collaborating with the Ministry of Justice on services and resources for parents and children fleeing domestic violence;
• Establishing a joint Child Welfare Innovation Committee to improve child and family services;
• Establishing a Leaders Forum to oversee work being done under the partnership agreement; and
• Working to keep First Nations mothers and their newborns together through better prenatal prevention and support, and to reduce birth alerts and the trauma associated with interventions during the prenatal and post-natal period.
The Delegation Agreement re-establishes the Saskatoon Tribal Council Child and Family Services Agency, which will provide services on reserve to STC-member bands. STC’s agency will join the 17 First Nations Agencies that deliver services to First Nations communities around the province.
The First Contact Panel Protocol formalizes the agreement between Social Services and STC to include families involved in child protection matters in planning and decision making for children.