(Treaty 6 Territory, Saskatoon, SK) – The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Executive stands united with the Saskatoon Tribal Council as they remain focused on the children they serve while defending First Nation jurisdiction on child and family service matters against the Provincial Social Services Ministry.

“The Social Services Ministry has no jurisdiction regarding on-reserve matters, especially when it comes to First Nation children,” said FSIN Vice Chief Bob Merasty.

Earlier this week, Saskatchewan’s Children’s Advocate Bob Pringle addressed media and stated that two children died in the past year while receiving services provided by the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) Child and Family Services Agency. The Ministry of Social Services announced it is going to take control over all files currently with STC Child and Family Services Agency and claims that the agency has not cooperated with sharing information on cases.

“We believe it is in the best interests of the child that they remain in the community where they will receive the best supports,” Vice Chief Bob Merasty stated. “It was reported by the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth office in its 2015 Annual Report that 26 children died in provincial care last year – 13 of them were of Indigenous descent. It is very insulting to have the Ministry step in with their track record and tell our Agencies that they are not able to provide services to their own citizens.”

The FSIN also recognizes the STC’s Child and Family Service Agency has not had any deaths of children in their care in the past two decades and supports STC’s efforts to develop protocols to address data sharing processes with the Social Services Ministry.

“The Saskatoon Tribal Council has been very open about their efforts to resolve the matter but the Ministry has not been responsive,” said Vice Chief Merasty.

STC Tribal Chief Felix Thomas responded Wednesday to the Children’s Advocate’s claim by saying that they are devastated by the deaths of the two children living in the tribal council’s communities, but at no time were they under the care of STC’s Child and Family Services Agency.

Chief Thomas also said the agency has never refused to cooperate with the province, and that agreements worked out with the Ministry of Social Services around information sharing were reached, sent to the minister twice, but never signed by the minister.

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