Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report and Recommendations
On June 2, 2015, Justice Murray Sinclair released the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Summary Report. The report, which is 386 pages long and includes 94 recommendations, comes ahead of a final report that will be released later this year. The aim of the Commission and its report is to address the continuing legacy of the residential school system and "to guide and inspire a process of truth and healing leading towards reconciliation..."
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's findings and recommendations are especially relevant to child welfare systems in Canada. The Commission directly relates the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in child welfare today to the "intractable legacies of residential schools." Several pages of the summary report look at current provincial child welfare systems in some detail. In addition, the report's first five "calls to action" are directed at the child welfare system.
Children's Aid Youth Civics Day a Success
On May 14, OACAS and the YouthCAN program hosted the third Children's Aid Youth Civics Day at Queen's Park. The daycommemorated the second Children and Youth in Care Day,enacted into law in 2014 and recommended in My Real Life Book, the report from the Youth Leaving Care Hearings organized in 2011 by the Provincial Advocate for Youth.
CAS youth and chaperones from across the province joined their peers in a day of education, networking and fun. The program included formal remarks by MCYS Minister MacCharles and the Opposition Critics, Jim McDonnell and Monique Taylor, as well as the Provincial Advocate. Over lunch, youth and staff were able to meet and mingle with their elected representatives.
Minister MacCharles introduced youth and staff during a visit to the public gallery and made statements, as did MPPs McDonnell (Stormont-Dundas, PC Critic), Taylor (Hamilton Mountain, NDP Critic), Wong (Scarborough - Agincourt) and Lalonde (Ottawa-Orléans).
- 111 CAS youth and staff attended
- 17 MPPs and government staff attended (including Minister MacCharles and Education Minister Liz Sandals)
- Introductions in the public gallery by the Minister
- Civics educational program by legislative staff
- Giant group photo on the elegant central staircase (attached)
- A great deal of social media
2nd Annual African Canadian Summit
The second annual African Canadian Summit that was held April 29, 2015, provided a stark reminder of how hundreds of years of systemic racism in Canada has impacted the African-Canadian community and has led to a crisis point.
The Summit, hosted by the African-Canadian Legal Clinic and in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Labour, Canadian Labour Congress, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, sought to address this crisis from various standpoints.
Minister of Children and Youth Services, Tracy MacCharles, and other dignitaries such as Mayor John Tory and Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, attended the the Summit. Minister MacCharles began the day by citing the OACAS project focused on child welfare service to the African-Canadian community (and funded by the MCYS) as an investment to address the crisis.
The Summit consisted primarily of a series of panel presentations. Child Welfare was a featured topic, along with Education and Police Services because of their critical roles and impact on the African Canadian Community.
- Summary & Highlights - 2nd Annual African Canadian Summit - OACAS
- Second African Canadian Summit to Discuss Critical Issues - Pride News
As Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, I would like to congratulate the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the release of their summary report on June 2. The report is a historic accomplishment that will change our country for the better.
As the membership organization that represents the 44 Children’s Aid Societies that provide child welfare services across Ontario, we are particularly grateful for the impact the Commission’s six years of thorough and compassionate work will have on the child welfare system.
We are deeply aware that the child welfare system has been failing our country’s Aboriginal, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people for more than a century. Over 18% of children in care are of Aboriginal background. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has taught us the extent to which this overrepresentation of children in care is a direct legacy of the inter-generational trauma caused by the residential schools.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s summary report is a call to action to all Canadians, but especially to the child welfare system. Over the last decade the system has made progress in how it supports Aboriginal children and families. We are proud that nine Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario are now designated as Aboriginal agencies and that their mandate is to serve their communities in ways that preserve their culture.
But serious work remains to be done. There is an urgent need for more funding for child welfare agencies that serve Aboriginal, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children and families. While legislation enables government to designate Aboriginal child welfare organizations, the resources have not been provided to sustain this work. Unless similar investments are made into housing and infrastructure for Aboriginal people, child welfare will be hampered in its ability to make lasting changes in the lives of Aboriginal families.
Over the next few months the OACAS will be looking closely at the Commission’s recommendations for guidance as we continue to seek the right path to the best outcomes for the Aboriginal children, youth and families who come to us for help.