A conference focusing on children is underway in Prince Albert.

The Honouring Children Conference, which will be running until Thursday at the Prince Albert Inn, got started Tuesday morning. Cassie Acker a community dietitian with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC), who helped organize the event, said the conference will be focusing on a range of topics related to children.

“The content includes topics from Indigenous birth, ancestral breast feeding, introducing ancestral first foods right up to traditional parenting topics,” she said.

The conference was organized by the communities which make up the Northern Inter Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) along with MLTC and Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC). The communities which make up these organizations were also represented, with some attendees traveling from quite far to take part. There are also a range of people from different walks of life in attendance.

“We’ve got a nice mix, we’ve got parents, we’ve actually got a pregnant person that’s in early labor in here, we’ve got some staff support workers, we’ve got maternal child health workers, we’ve got people that work with Kids First North, people that work at Tribal Councils, anyone that kind of works with children,” said Acker.

Acker explained they got financial support to put on the conference from Indigenous Service Canada, which provided a grant through the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative Program. She said while they have put on conferences in the past, Honouring Children is somewhat of a first for them.

“This is kind of the first one where we’ve brought this group together, these speakers together,” she said.

PAGC leader thanks those working in child and family services

The conference officially opened Tuesday morning with a prayer and drumming performance which were followed by opening remarks by PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte. During his remarks Hardlotte touched on a range of topics relating to children and the importance of doing work to help improve the lives of children. Hardlotte, a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, as well touched on the creation of First Nations controlled Child and Family Services (CFS) and the changes which he has seen over time.

“In my First Nation’s case it was about 1992, that’s 30 years ago, that we’ve been taking care of our children, somewhat,” he said.

During his remarks the grand chief as well thanked the people who have been working in First Nations Child and Family Services over the years, he as well took time to thank Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Caring Society for the work she and her organization have done to bring to light the unequal treatment of First Nations children and families on reserve.

The PAGC grand chief during his remarks touched on Bill C-92, federal legislation which aims to give First Nations full jurisdiction over child and family services, Hardlotte said the legislation sounds good, but added there are still things that have to be looked into regarding it.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” he said.

(Top Photo: The Honouring Children Conference got underway Tuesday at the Prince Albert Inn. Photo Courtesy of Michael Joel-Hansen)