Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Advocate excited by Feathers of Hope

Written by Brenden Harris

Ontario's child advocate, Irwin Elman, says their latest report on First Nations youth has been well received. The Feathers of Hope report, which was based on consultations with more than 600 youth, was released Monday.

Elman says the youth outlined a variety of topics and needs, but their message was very straightforward. "The young people wrote a report that is, in some ways, blunt.

It's certainly very clear about what they're facing.

The young people have said -- and I think this has been well heard and received -- they need to be a part of the solutions to the issues facing them in their communities.

They want to be involved," he said.The report outlines a total of 88 steps to be taken to improve the lives of youth in First Nations communities.

However, Elman says the steps can be boiled down to three things that need to happen.

"One, all levels of government --provincial, federal and First Nations leadership-- need to acknowledge the issues that young people are facing. Two, for those organizations and leaders to come together with young people to create a table to develop a strategy for each of the themes that young people have identified. Three, to do these things within five years," he said.

Elman says they're seeing support for the report from all levels of government. He says on top of the support from First Nations, both federal and provincial levels of government seem supportive of the recommendations.

"The province itself, in their release in the legislature, has said they'll be at the table. Ministry, after ministry, after ministry sent deputy ministers there, as well as the minister of children and youth services.

In Ottawa, the federal government and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have said they're willing to come to the table," he said.He notes it should only be a matter of time before all levels of government, and the concerned youth, come together to work on a plan to address the needs outlined in the report.

"Obviously, the young people are ready. We'll work at reaching out to the federal government, where ministries have said they're ready to move forward, too. I hope in the next few weeks, we'll be able to have some discussion about how to plan a way forward," he said.

Since the report was written by young First Nations residents, Elman says leaders at all levels can not afford to ignore the report.  

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