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More Indians Chase White Men
July 18, 2009 permalink
Yukon's first nations are fed up with baby stealing in the name of protection, and want control of child welfare services.
Yukon First Nations want control over child welfare
Last Updated: Friday, July 17, 2009 | 11:44 AM CT, CBC News
Several Yukon First Nations are demanding more control of child welfare services by taking the territorial government to court.
The challenge, heard by the territorial court earlier this week, was prompted by an incident at the Whitehorse General Hospital. First Nations officials say a newborn was recently taken from its mother and placed into government care.
First Nation lawyers are trying to intervene and are demanding a say in that case.
"People cannot be going to the hospitals and taking children from their mothers as they're born. It's unacceptable," Carcross Tagish Chief Mark Wedge told CBC News on Thursday.
The Carcross Tagish is part of a coalition, along with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, the Ta'an Kwach'an Council and the Kluane First Nation, that is pushing to take over child and family services in their communities.
Wedge said such services were promised to them as part of their land-claim and self-government agreements.
"I think it's important for the Yukon citizens and Canadian citizens to know that again, in this day and age, especially after the prime minister gave the apology [to former students of residential schools] and … Premier Fentie has been saying he's working with the First Nations, that they're not," he said.
"They're not working to actually implement these agreements in a good way."
Wedge said his First Nation has developed its own legislation to take over child and family services, but the Yukon government has refused to pay for it.
Kwanlin Dun Chief Mike Smith said he is looking into taking over child and family services in his First Nation, too.
"Just can't be bare bones," he said. "It has to be a service that's equivalent to what's provided to all Canadians."
A territorial court judge has adjourned the case to consider the First Nations' challenge. There is no word on when a court ruling will be made.
Smith said he predicts a long and costly legal battle against the territorial government.
"Why are we always pushed in this corner, and why are we always having to go to court?" he said.
"They don't care about children. They only care about their jurisdiction."