AMC CONCERNED ABOUT DISPLACED CHILDREN OF THE FLOOD AND THEIR TREATY RIGHT TO EDUCATION
Winnipeg, MB – Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) expressed concern regarding First Nations children displaced by flooding, and their access to a safe and quality educational environment. “Our students have a right to set personal goals and reach benchmarks of achievement in a safe and supportive community school environment. This right is commonly referred to as the Treaty Right to Education.”
It may be several weeks before children from Lake St. Martin are able to return to school. This is compounded by the fact that these children were not able to complete their education due to this year’s spring flooding.
Chief Adrian Sinclair of the Lake St. Martin First Nation (LSMFN) has requested that the AMC support the First Nation as they implement an emergency response to provide for their children’s educational needs.
Grand Chief Nepinak stressed that the rights of children are paramount. He stated, “the guiding principles relating to decisions regarding the educational needs of children should reflect international standards.” As outlined in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child:
“The child is entitled to receive education… The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance...”
Grand Chief Nepinak further noted that Canada endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states that Indigenous families and communities have the right and responsibility “for the upbringing, training, education and well-being of their children, consistent with the rights of the child”.
The children of Lake St. Martin have suffered trauma over the past few months in leaving their homes, community and school. It is time for everyone to work together and ensure that the safety and educational needs of the children are met.
Grand Chief Nepinak called on the federal government to work closely in partnership with Chief Sinclair and the community of Lake St. Martin to ensure that their children are able to return to a safe and supportive school environment as soon as possible.