“Our Children, Our Future: The Health and Well-being of First Nations Children in Manitoba” released by Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) looks at the health and well-being of registered First Nations children living on-reserve and off-reserve in Manitoba. The purpose of this report is to provide a sound baseline measure of how First Nations children in Manitoba are doing in order to determine if the children’s lives are improving as a result of these calls to action.
Summary of Results: (Indigenous vs Non-Indigenous)
- Teen Pregnancy (per 1000): 107 vs 18 (6 x greater)
- Teen Births (per 1000): 87 vs 11 (8x greater)
- Breastfeeding (per 100): 61 vs 90 (33% less)
- Diabetes (per 100K): 875 vs 43 (20 x greater)
- Dental Surgeries (per 1000) 32 vs 1 (32 x greater)
These findings clearly show that an enormous amount of work is required in virtually every area – health, social, education and justice – to improve First Nations children’s lives. There is an urgent need for equitable access to equitable services, and the nature of these services should be self-determined, planned and implemented by First Nations people. An important aspect that should be included in this work is a clearer understanding and articulation of the traditional knowledges, languages and values that were stripped from so many First Nations by colonialist practices and policies. First Nations Peoples hold these cultural knowledges and values in their memory and within themselves. Collectively, as First Nations and as Manitobans, we should revive them as we begin to address gaps in the key areas this report describes and work to improve First Nations children’s health, education and social outcomes.
The data presented in this report can inform and guide us in changing our approach to First Nations programming, policies and decision-making. The profound hope of the research team is that this report will promote equity in funding for First Nations children and that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people can work in a more collaborative and unified way to address the gaps. In so doing, and in the true tradition of honoring First Nations ways of doing, knowing and being, we strive to be “wholistic” in our approaches to clear the path for First Nations children to live and thrive in our province.
Knowledge Keeper recommendations: It is with this in mind we make these declarations:
- Urgent action is needed in the development of a unified and seamless health care system to ensure our children have equitable access to all provincially funded health and social services.
- Urgent action is needed to eliminate discrimination and racism at all levels of the health care system, beginning with health care providers and extending to policies that place First Nations people at an unfair advantage.
- Urgent action is needed in the educational system that allows for the provision of equitable funding.
- Urgent action is needed to fund and support land-based or culturally appropriate educational models.
- Urgent action is needed in the creation of fair and culturally appropriate assessment tools in the educational system.
- Urgent action is needed to restore our languages by the wide implementation of First Nations language programs in all schools and support for full language emersion in our schools on reserve.
- Urgent action needed for supports and services that are planned by and put in place by First Nations people and must be funded at the same level as services for other Canadian children in the child welfare system.
- Urgent action is needed to completely overhaul the child welfare system and discontinue the colonial practice of child removal and any incentives that support this practice.
- Urgent action is needed to acknowledge existing Knowledge Keepers grandmother’s and grandfather’s circles so that they have meaningful and legitimate authority to oversee and ensure that all proceeding urgent calls for action are implemented.