The Minister of Human Services, Ifran Sabir visited Samson Cree Nation on Thursday February 11, 2016. Minister Sabir has been a member of the Alberta Cabinet since May 24, 2016, prior to him being elected to the Alberta Government as Minister of Human Services, he studied and practiced Aboriginal Law, and has a degree in Social Work. Chief Kurt Buffalo provided a Letter of Concern on
behalf of SCN, Council Member, Vern Saddleback provided a Letter of Concern on behalf of Children in Care, and Council Member, Holly Johnson provide a Letter of Concern on behalf of Respite Home needs. Currently, the Province of Alberta has funding policies in place that prohibit access to provincial services for nation members who reside on reserve. To gain access to supports, Nation members are given advice from the office of Human Services within the Alberta Government to move off reserve. This is a discriminating practice and why SCN Chief and Council requested
a meeting with Minister Sabir. The Provincial Human Service Division consists of Disability Services, Family and Community, Financial Support, Homelessness, Foster and Kinship Care, which includes Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) and Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) just to name a few.
During his visit Minister Sabir visited the home of Corrine Potts to see firsthand the inadequate and lack of access to funding for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) that affects Corrine and her daughter Andrea directly. It is also difficult for families looking for support that choose to stay in Samson, they question the need to leave their home and community to find the supports needed. This is the dilemma that Corrine Potts and her daughter, Andrea face daily. There are families that have chosen to live off-reserve to receive proper financial support to assist in care, for example, Bruce and Allison Cutknife, and their daughter June Cutknife is who is 23yrs old, had to move to Wetaskiwin to receive adequate financial support, these are difficult decisions that many other families face. The Minister took time to visit with both June Cutknife and Andrea Potts and their families.
The Minister also met with the Staff of KCWS, as they are case workers and front line staff with regards to Children in Care. SCN’s Kasokewew Child Wellness at present has approximately 320 plus children in Permanent Guardianship Orders (PGO) children and youth in care. The Province of Alberta has an average of 6% of children in care, whereas SCN has an average of 10% of our child and youth population in care. At present, there are 65 children and youth Under 15 years of age and 29 Youth, 15 to 18 years of age, who will require PDD, AISH and other supports. As these Children in Care age out of the child services program they continue to require access to the supports they had, and the reality is that they receive less support because they choose to stay in the community.
With the Human Rights Tribunal’s decision on Under-funding First Nations Children on Reserve and with the Federal Government choosing not to appeal the tribunals decision, sets a president in Child Care Service on Reserve. Will the Province of Alberta change its policy and if they do so, how long will that processtake?. The real question is how much longer can these families and individual youth sustain themselves?.