Huu-ay-aht First Nations will be getting financial support from the federal government for their child and family services project.
Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced in Nanaimo on Tuesday, Aug. 21 that the federal government will be providing $4.2 million in funding to support the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Social Services Project.
Funding will go towards community initiatives such as expanding current pregnancy support and parenting education programs, hiring family and protection support workers and developing opportunities for youth engagement and cultural awareness.
“It is so important for children to be supported by their community and grow up in their own cultural environment,” said Philpott in a release.
This announcement was made in support of the 30 recommendations made in a Huu-ay-aht First Nations report titled, “Safe, Healthy and Connected—Bringing Huu-ay-aht Children Home.” To date, Huu-ay-aht First Nations has committed more than $650,000 towards implementing these recommendations.
Philpott said the province will also be providing financial and other support to this initiative.
Huu-ay-aht chief councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. thanked the federal government for its financial contribution on Tuesday.
“Canada is putting action to its words,” he said. “These funds will go a long way towards bringing our children home and fully implementing the recommendations from Huu-ay-aht’s social services report.”
Sonia Furstenau, B.C. Green Party spokesperson for children and family development, announced on Tuesday that she was “delighted” by the news of this funding.
“Removing children from their families can cause trauma that stays with them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “We must learn from the reprehensible harm caused by residential schools and do everything we can to support families and communitities to be able to stay together.”
Huu-ay-aht First Nation declared the treatment of Huu-ay-aht children a public health emergency in March of this year, shortly after a baby girl was apprehended by the Ministry of Children and Family Development only three days after she was born. After a court case lasting almost two months, the mother was able to return home to Port Alberni with her baby.
As of July 31 of this year, 38 children connected to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations were in government care.