Provincial Government and First Nations Sign Working Relationship Agreement
October 5, 2014
Supporting Service Delivery in Aboriginal Communities
A new Working Relationship Agreement has been signed between the Provincial Government and the Sheshatshiu and Mushuau First Nations in an effort to improve service coordination and information sharing pertaining to child protection in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.
“It is extremely important that we keep the lines of communication open with all of our partners and stakeholders as we strive to determine how to best serve our province’s Aboriginal children and youth. The agreement speaks to our collective efforts in finding ways to improve planning around the safety and placement of Aboriginal children and youth, as well as enhancing service coordination and delivery in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish. It is important that we reflect and address the realities of delivering services in our northern communities, and I am very pleased with the new agreement.”
– The Honourable Sandy Collins, Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services
The new working relationship agreement outlines more specifically the activities that will be undertaken to improve service coordination and information sharing between the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and the Labrador Innu communities. A joint committee process will be established in each community with clearly defined case planning processes, lines of communication and coordination functions.
“Our collaborative work with the Sheshatshiu and Mushuau Innu First Nations has led to innovative ways to deliver these important services for Aboriginal children and youth. With the necessary supports and enhanced collaboration with the First Nations, we will improve services by building on the foundation from the previous agreement.”
– The Honourable Keith Russell, Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
Another notable component is the expanded role of the Innu Round Table Secretariat which is named a party in the new agreement. The secretariat is the collective organization of the Mushuau Innu First Nation, the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation and the Innu Nation. Created for the coordinated administration of common priorities, the secretariat will provide professional advice, facilitate community actions around case planning, and work to develop an Innu risk prevention program.
“This is a positive step forward for service delivery, and helps ensure the best interests of our Innu children and youth are met. It is important that we all work together with our main goal in mind – to ensure all children can be raised in a safe family environment.”
– Chief Eugene Hart, Sheshatshiu First Nation
The Innu Healing Strategy (2014) is referenced as a guide for the new agreement. This is reflective of the current philosophy that, while CYFS must follow provincial legislation in decision-making regarding the protection of children and youth, the Innu can bring a range of resources and insight to each case that can inform decisions and work toward healing family units, while also reducing risk to children in the community.
“As there are so many factors that impact Innu children, an open approach is needed for success. I am proud to be part of this step today, not just because it will help our children right away, but because I see it as the first step in building a new relationship. This relationship is one where we and the province can ‘uauitetau’ about any matters that impact children. In English, ‘uauitetau’ means we need to talk about things.”
– Chief Gregory Rich, Mushuau First Nation
Understanding the challenges regarding resources to carry out the commitments of the new agreement, a CYFS Liaison position with the Innu will also be created as a pilot project. The position, funded by CYFS, will be filled by an individual experienced in child protection matters.
In the coming weeks, CYFS will work with the Innu leadership to share details of the agreement with its members, and explain how all parties will work together to support children, youth and their families in the communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.
- A new Working Relationship Agreement has been signed between the Provincial Government and the Sheshatshiu and Mushuau First Nations in an effort to improve service coordination and information sharing pertaining to child protection.
- The new agreement outlines more specifically the activities that will be undertaken to improve service coordination and information sharing between the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services and the First Nations in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.
- Some of the highlights of the agreement include: establishment of a joint committee process which will more clearly define specific case planning and coordination functions; expansion of the role of the Innu Round Table Secretariat; inclusion of the Innu Healing Strategy (2014); and creation of a CYFS Liaison position with the Innu Nation as a pilot project.
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The Honourable Keith Russell, Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs; Mary Jane Nui, Innu Round Table Secretariat; Chief Eugene Hart, Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation; Chief Gregory Rich, Mushuau First Nation; and the Honourable Sandy Collins, Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, sign a Working Relationship Agreement between the Provincial Government and the Sheshatshiu and Mushuau First Nations.
Director of Communications
Department of Child, Youth and Family Services
Director of Communications
Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
709-729-1495 , 682-6593
Chief Gregory Rich
Mushuau Innu First Nation
Chief Eugene Hart
Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation