Two First Nation organizations in Manitoba are receiving $3.3-million from the federal government, province and a Winnipeg foundation to cover programs, and studies related to the province’s child welfare system.
The money will go to the family advocate’s office within the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and a grassroots organizations called Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre based in Winnipeg.
“With the $800,000 contribution from the government of Canada, the advocate office will complete a file by file audit of First Nation CFS agencies to ensure that children caught in a discriminatory system where there is no real concern for protection are immediately sent home to their parents or home communities,” said Cora Morgan, Manitoba’s First Nation family advocate in the AMC.
Manitoba is commonly referred to as “ground zero” for child apprehensions.
It’s estimated that a newborn a day is taken into care everyday.
“These funds will support the advocacy role that has been played by the office in helping families be reunified with their children,” said Jane Philpott, minister of Indigenous Services.
The First Nations Family Advocate’s office works with thousands of families involved in the CFS system each year.
Morgan said the money will go into running workshops and support services for families, and investigating agencies.
The announcement comes as the government continues to face criticism over it’s chronic under-funding of on-reserve agencies that deal with child welfare matters.
“There is still work to be done in terms of addressing the funding issues and our government is determined to address those gaps but I would also say that today’s announcement speaks to the fact that it will take more than addressing funding gaps, it requires dramatic transformation of the child and family services approach,” Philpott said.
Receiving the bulk of the money is the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, a grassroots organization that primarily works toward rebuilding relationships within Indigenous families.
It’s an organization that works with families in the child and family welfare system.
Ma Mawi has been running a program called Family Group Conferencing since 2000.
The program assists families with becoming the decision makers when it comes to children’s safety as opposed to the CFS system deciding what’s best for the children.
The group needed money to keep the program going so the federal government provided $500,000 over three years, and the province and the Winnipeg Foundation provided $1 million over a three year period to help keep the program going.
“The big theme of course giving every child in this country and in this case speaking specifically of First Nation and other Indigenous children giving them the opportunity to grow up as much as possible with their families,” Philpott said.
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