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On the Rights of Indigenous Children

 The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 27) establishes the right of every person, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion or to use his or her own language. The right is both individual and collective and is an important recognition of the collective traditions and values in indigenous cultures.

The Convention of the Rights of the Child (article 30) is quite clear: in those States in which ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion or to use his or her own language.

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration provides important guidance on the rights of indigenous peoples, including specific reference to the rights of indigenous children in a number of areas.

Since then, the United Nations Committee on the Right of the Child has had the opportunity to reflect on the rights of indigenous children and has published its General Comment No. 11 (2009) – Indigenous children and their rights under the Convention. The Committee reminded State parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that they should provide meaningful opportunities for indigenous and non-indigenous children to understand and respect different cultures, religions, and languages.

States should always ensure that the principle of the best interests of the child is the paramount consideration in any alternative care placement of indigenous children. They must pay due regard to the desirability of continuity in the child’s upbringing and to the child’s its General Comment No. 14 on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration provided more detailed guidance on the application of this crucial human rights concept.

When indigenous children are overrepresented among children separated from their family environment, as they are in British Columbia, specially targeted measures should be adopted in consultation with indigenous communities in order to reduce the number of indigenous children in alternative care and prevent the loss of their cultural identity. Specifically, if an indigenous child is placed in care outside his or her community, the State must take special measures to ensure that the child can maintain his or her cultural identity.

This information has been provided by Yvon Dandurand, Centre’s Associate and faculty member in the School of Criminology and Criminal justice at UFV. Yvon has many years of experience working with the United Nations as part of his commitment to improving the rights of children in Canada and Internationally.

For resources and links to the fact sheet, click here

Think Fun Camps coming this summer!

University of the Fraser Valley’s Philosophy Department, Vancouver’s Institute of Philosophy for Children, and the Centre for Safe Schools and Communities are working together to bring “fun” and “thinking” together with the Think Fun Camps! There will be three camps for each of the three weeks (9 camps altogether) starting on July 7th.  Think Fun Camps will equip youth with skills like problem solving to help children explore different ideas while thinking innovatively.

For more information on Think Fun Camps, please click here.

To view a flyer, click  here.

To view a brochure, click here

Children with Parents in Prison: A Best Practice Guide

Working in collaboration with faculty associates from UFV’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and School of Social Work, the Centre for Safe Schools and Communities is developing a best practices model for responding to children who have a parent in the criminal justice system. A detailed, applied literature and scoping review has already been completed and confirming that children who have parents in prison are an at-risk population who face serious challenges. This report examines current tools and strategies used in BC and other jurisdictions in Canada and internationally to intervene and/or prevent the cycle of criminal justice contact for children of an incarcerated parent, to reduce their risk of involvement with Child Protection Services, and to aid resiliency. An expert working group review occurred on December 5th, 2013 to raise awareness of this issue among government, NGO’s, academics, and students. The completed study will be released by March 31st and culminate in a series of recommendations specifically for the Fraser Valley, while having wider applicability for BC and Canada. This work will form the basis for future initiatives to support a largely invisible demographic of children and youth in BC.

To learn more about current affairs concerning children with incarcerated parents click here.

For further information contact Annette Vogt at 604-504-7441 (4222) or 1-888-504-SAFE