Ogimaa Duke Peltier honoured to be new Anishinabek Nation Children's Commissioner
Anishinabek Children's Commissioner looks to make significant changes to child welfare
Ogimaa Duke Peltier of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory says it is truly an honour to have been appointed as the new Anishinabek Nation Children's Commissioner.
Grand Council Chief Glen Hare made the announcement November 5 on the first day of the Anishinabek Nation Fall Assembly.
Hare described the appointment as "awesome for our kids."
Peltier says the position entails providing oversight and enforcement of the Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being Law and the Anishinabek Children and Youth Bill of Rights.
Earlier this year, the Anishinabek Nation Chiefs-in-Assembly approved the Anishinabek Nation Children and Youth Bill of Rights.
The Anishinabek Nation represents 40 First Nations throughout Ontario.
Peltier says the Child Well-Being Law is the Anishinabek Nation's response to how the provincial Child and Youth Services Act is applied in First Nation communities.
"We know that it's not responsive," said Peltier. "In fact, it includes standards that aren't necessarily applicable but they're being applied to our First Nation families," he added.
Peltier says he wanted to ensure that the Child Well-Being Law was culturally relevant and took into account approaches that First Nations and First Nations families wish to address, keeping families together.
As for the Children and Youth Bill of Rights, Peltier explained that the community's leadership pledged in 2013 that the needs of children will come first.
Peltier says the Bill of Rights came partly as a result of following the developments of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society's Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case, led by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, an activist for child welfare and Indigenous children's rights.
After a conversation with Blackstock about a First Nations Children's Bill of Rights, he went back to his council with the idea, and they immediately started to work on it.
Since the declaration was put in place, parents who work in Wiikwemkoong's administration building can take time off to participate in their child's schooling. The children themselves had asked for playgrounds so a number of them were set up in the community.
Children and youth were also asking for more cultural experiences and teachings. Council has been supportive by providing three additional lodges.
Peltier says he hopes to share his experiences and successes with other communities within the Anishinabek Nation.
With files from Martha Dillman