Change begins with each of us.
1. Reconciliation is the work of non-Indigenous Canadians – it is not the job of Indigenous People. We, as non-Indigenous Canadians, have work to do to reconcile what our government has done and continues to do to the Indigenous Peoples of these lands we now call Canada.
2. Indigenous children and youth already face more obstacles and barriers than their non-Indigenous peers. The systems designed to care for, educate, and uplift children in fact harms Indigenous children and youth at alarming rates.
3. The graduation rate for Indigenous students in BC, although improving, is only at 69.6%, while the graduation rate for non-Indigenous students is at 86.5%.
4. Indigenous children and youth are overrepresented with designations and diagnoses at a much higher rate than non-Indigenous children, often having no easy access to health care and supports to manage or improve chronic health conditions.
5. Supports for Indigenous children and youth are chronically underfunded. So much so that Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Gitxsan professor, tireless advocate, and Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, was successful in taking the federal government to the human rights tribunal over inequitable funding for Indigenous children and youth.
6. In May of 2021, the tragic news out of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc about the uncovering of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School has brought this part of Canada’s history to the forefront of conversations in many non-Indigenous spaces. The part of the story that was missing from news reports is that the child welfare system in Canada is considered the new institution separating Indigenous children from their families and communities. There are more Indigenous children in ‘care’ today than there were at the height of Canada’s Indian Residential School System.
7. There has been a bold shift at SOS Children’s Village BC; over the past few years, the organization has been actively decolonizing the work we do to advance on our journey towards Reconciliation.
8. At SOS Children’s Village BC, we recognize the role that we must play in ensuring a better future for the children, youth, and families that we support. Our mandate puts children’s interests at the heart of all the work we must do. We have been undergoing our own internal and personal learning to better understand the children and youth we support, how to be in true solidarity with Indigenous communities, and to start creating some tangible changes as to how Indigenous children and youth in care in BC are supported.
9. We believe that the apprehension of children from their families is a practice that must end. Separating children from their families adds trauma to both child and caregiver and is often unnecessary when families simply require additional resources and supports to sustain their overall well-being and keep the health of their family stable.
10. We invite you along on this journey with us, to be a part of this next generation of change where Indigenous communities will be better able to find meaningful, resourceful partnerships. We cannot do this work alone and ask that you believe in a way forward for all children to belong and live healthy, meaningful lives.
This is a condensed version of the Reconciliation Manifesto. We urge you to take a look at the full version.
VIEW THE FULL VERSION OF THE RECONCILIATION MANIFESTO
Take the manifesto pledge.
• As non-Indigenous Canadians, it is up to us to learn about the historical and present circumstances imposed upon Indigenous communities by our governments of past and present. We must organize and act to change and dismantle systems so that we can create sustainable futures for youth and children so that they and future generations can thrive in a healthy, connected way.
• Take some time to read relevant reports to get a better picture of the reality many Indigenous people face: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report, the Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry’s Final Report, Skye’s Legacy, and the In Plain Sight Report.
• Write your elected officials, your MP, MLA, Mayor, council members, and School Trustees to hold them accountable for implementing the recommendations that have been prepared with so much labour and love from Indigenous people.
• Demand that changes be made to existing frameworks that are harming Indigenous people. We cannot reconcile a relationship that is still in active harm.
• Change is taking place, but at times it can be slow and a daunting process. SOS BC wants change now, and you can be a part of this change by supporting and adopting this manifesto, so you too can say that you have been a part of the work that must be done in supporting Indigenous communities, that you too can take your concern and emotion and turn it into meaningful action.
• Join us on this journey towards making things better for all kids in state care, not just the ones in our Village and community. Use the button below to sign our petition at Change.org.