Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says the work the federal government is doing with Indigenous people, “can draw a line in the sands of time.”

Philpott spoke at the Assembly of First Nations meeting taking place in Ottawa about the government’s commitment to the rights of Indigenous people.

“Your inherent and treaty rights have to be always affirmed, recognized and implemented,” Philpott said. “There should not be opposition to rights.”

A number of chiefs acknowledged the work Philpott is doing for the Indigenous child-and-family services legislation during a question-and-answer period at the assembly.

“What you’ve done with the legislation for us in Saskatoon and in our province has alleviated a lot of pressure,” said Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand. “It’s hard to be recognized in our province.”

This past Friday, Philpott promised to develop the legislation which will affirm the jurisdiction of First Nations to care for Indigenous children.

“Every single day in this country on our watch, while we all are leaders, we know someone is walking into the home of one of your people, or into a hospital room where a young woman has given birth and are taking that child away,” says Philpott. “I don’t think any of us are naive. We don’t think a piece of legislation will all by itself turn the tide on what’s going on in this country. But I believe it can be a turning point. I believe it can be a clarion call, a call across the nation to say no more. No more scooping First Nations children from their families and communities, no more tearing apart your families. No more lost children who don’t know their language, their culture, their heritage.”

(Photo: Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Marc Arcand (left) and Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott. Photo by Dan Jones.)