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Saskatchewan to continue using ‘birth alerts’ despite calls by inquiry to stop

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REGINA — The Saskatchewan government says it will continue to track or seize babies born to Indigenous mothers despite a call to stop from the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The inquiry’s final report recommends governments and child-welfare agencies immediately abandon what are known as birth or hospital alerts.

Saskatchewan’s Social Services Ministry says the alerts are registered if there is a concern about a mother and the potential safety of her baby.

It says social workers or health professionals can make the reports. 

The alerts allow government officials to be informed when a baby is born so a report can be investigated, which can result in a newborn being seized.

The ministry says 153 newborns were apprehended in Saskatchewan for their own safety as a result of 588 alerts issued from 2015 to 2018.

“We only do that in extreme circumstances,” Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said.

“At the end of the day, if a child is temporarily taken into care — no matter what age they are — our end goal is always reunification with the family to make sure that they have the opportunity to be a family as a whole.”

The ministry says more than 60 per cent of babies taken into care were placed with their extended family while staff worked with the parents.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said the government is unwilling to change its policies when it comes to delivering child welfare.

“When mother and baby are separated, obviously the mother is very distraught. She’s overwhelmed. She’s heartbroken,” said Morley Watson, first vice-chief of the federation, which represents Saskatchewan’s 74 First Nations.

In Manitoba, figures for birth alerts are much higher. A government spokeswoman said that in 2017-18, Manitoba child-welfare agencies issued 558 birth alerts for high-risk mothers, but did not have figures on how many of those resulted in apprehensions.

Cora Morgan, a family advocate for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, has said, on average, a newborn is apprehended every day

In January, social media videos surfaced showing a newborn baby girl being taken from the arms of her Indigenous mother by Manitoba social workers and police. The move prompted outrage and renewed calls for changes to child welfare in the province.

A judge granted guardianship of the baby to the mother’s aunt in March.

Morgan said the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs lobbied the MMIW inquiry to look at child welfare.

“Our elders have said that the most violent act you can commit to a women is to steal or take her children away,” said Morgan.

“It’s torturous for the mother.”

 

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Stand Together Against Bullying – Pink Shirt Day 2021

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021 is the 14th annual Pink Shirt Day, a globally recognized movement to end bullying in all its forms and encourage the growth of a global community built on acceptance and support regardless of sex, age, background, gender identity, sexual orientation or cultural differences. 

Pink Shirt Day originated in 2007 in the eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia, in a local story that captured national – and eventually international – attention, when a new 9th grade student walked in on the first day of school wearing a pink polo shirt. 

Travis Price and David Shepherd are the two young men responsible for unintentionally launching the global pink shirt movement. According to Price and Shepherd, a group of students were physically and verbally bullying the young man for wearing pink to school. As senior students, Price and Shepherd saw the situation as an opportunity to set an example and take a stand against bullying in their school.
That night the two went and purchased 75 pink tank tops and released a call on social media (MSN messenger at the time) encouraging their fellow students to show up at school the next day wearing pink. According to Price, in a school of roughly 1000 students, “700 to 850 kids showed up wearing pink. It was incredible.” 

 

Since 2007, the movement has gained exponential traction and is now recognized in communities all around the world as individuals come together in an international display of solidarity against the devastating impacts of bullying.
The global movement to end bullying has led to the creation of countless local, national and internationally available resources, but there is still a long way to go.

Bullying Canada identifies 4 distinct types of bullying: verbal, physical, social and cyber. Short term and long term effects of bullying vary based on each situation, and can lead to damaging and dangerous outcomes for victims, friends, bystanders and countless others. While commonly associated with children and young adults in school, bullying impacts individuals of all ages and backgrounds in many areas of life, including the workplace.
Statistics released by Safe Canada revealed that 47% of Canadian parents have at least one child that has experienced bullying, while approximately 33% of the population experienced bullying as a child, and 33% of teenagers reported being bullied recently. Furthermore, around 40% of Canadians reportedly experience bullying in the workplace on a weekly basis.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with bullying, reaching out is the first step. You are not alone, and help is available. Extensive networks of resources exist in Alberta and across Canada to provide support, aid and solutions for those experiencing bullying. 

For support from Bullying Canada, call (877) 352-4497, or email [email protected]

The Alberta 24-hour Bullying Helpline can be reached at 1-888-456-2323, or the online Bullying Helpline Chat can be accessed here.

For more resources on how to identify a bullying situation, get help, or help someone in need, visit https://www.alberta.ca/bullying-how-to-help-others.aspx.

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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Alberta

First Nation applauds new initiative protecting boreal forest in the Kitaskino Nuwenene Wildland Park

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February 11, 2021

Fort Chipewyan-AB-Mikisew Cree First Nation applauds a major expansion in protecting the boreal forest area in the Kitaskino Nuwenene Wildland Park initiative.

The announcement to expand the protected area by nearly 150,00 hectares means more of the area south of Wood Buffalo National Park will be protected along with the headwaters, which flow into the Delta area. This marks a key step in a collaborative effort between Mikisew Cree First Nation, Government of Alberta, Government of Canada, energy, mineral and forestry companies.

Today’s announcement is about protecting the land and celebrating partnerships between First Nations, government and industry,” said Mikisew Chief, Peter Powder. “We wouldn’t be on the doorstep of this significant expansion without cooperation. We hope this means we can move forward with the western expansion of the Kitaskino-Nuwenene Wildland Park as part of Mikisew’s stewardship vision for our lands, waters and iconic species such as woodland caribou and wood bison.”

After engaging with the community, it was clear leaders and land users wanted to protect this area for future generations. The overall goal of the Kitaskino Nuwenene Wildland Park ​is for Mikisew Cree First Nation and other Indigenous groups to play a key role in safeguarding the area and the traditional resources within it. The expansion has received a strong endorsement from the Athabasca Chipewyan Cree First Nation, Fort Chipewyan Metis, Fort McKay First Nation, Fort McKay Métis, and Fort McMurray Métis. Kitaskino-Nuwenene translated means, “Our Land” in Cree and Dene.

Moving this forward is another step in implementing the Nikechinahonan Framework, which is the vision of the Mikisew to ensure our cultural survival. We look forward to building on this momentum by working to protect more habitat of the Ronald Lake Bison Herd and by continuing our efforts to save the Peace Athabasca Delta‘ said Melody Lepine, Mikisew Cree First Nation director.

Kitaskino Nuwenene Wildland Park is located along the southern border of Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta. Phase 1 was established in 2019. This project was undertaken with the financial support of Environment and Climate Change Canada through Canada’s Nature Fund.

Read more on Todayville.

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