First Nations – Cabinet Session Underway
Vancouver, B.C.- The second annual First Nations Leaders gathering that will see First Nations Chiefs meet with Provincial Cabinet Ministers opened with two announcements from the B.C. Minster of Aboriginal Relations, John Rustad.
Meeting in Vancouver, Rustad announced Grand Chief Ed John has been appointed as a senior advisor on Aboriginal child welfare to the Minister of Children and Family Development. Working with Aboriginal leaders, Grand Chief John will help more Aboriginal children and youth secure a safe, caring, permanent family outside of government care.
Rustad also announced the new education guide ‘Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom: Moving Forward’ has been developed . The guide was developed to give teachers ways to incorporate Aboriginal content into schools in every subject and in every grade. “It is vital that Aboriginal history is included in our school curriculum to educate our youth on Aboriginal culture and ensure the legacy of residential schools is not forgotten” says Rustad . “This guide is not only an important step toward helping our children understand the Aboriginal perspective but also a step towards reconciliation.”
Rustad also announced there will be a Provincially sponsored gathering for families of missing and murdered women, so the voices of families and friends can be heard and the healing can begin.
While Minister Rustad opened the session with talk of much progress made with First Nations in the past year, Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit, sees things differently, ” We didn’t see any action until the last three months really”. He said there have been many “good words” spoken about relationships, but that policies and procedures need to change in order to have real action.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillips says there is “Enormous frustration throughout the Province.” While recognizing there has been some progress “We need to do better than we have in the last year.” Grand Chief Phillip said “We cannot wait for another year of dithering, navel gazing” to move on the road to reconciliation and economic prosperity for First Nations.
“What’s at stake here, without question, is the economic prosperity of British Columbia.” He said to achieve true reconciliation, it will “Require all to leave the comfortable, entrenched positions and meet half way.”
The First Nations leaders will meet with Cabinet Ministers today through Friday to address Aboriginal issues and those issues specific to their respective communities.