National Reconciliation Program
We recognize that not all children’s rights are equally realized in Canada, and those most deprived of their rights are First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children. For children not to exercise their rights equally has devastating impacts on them, their families, communities, and nations. That’s why we are focusing our programs in Canada on reconciliation through a child-centred approach.
First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children and youth are the fastest growing population in Canada. Currently, the child poverty rate for Indigenous children is at an alarming 40%. The burden of poverty diminishes children’s right and reduces the opportunity for reaching their full potential. Indigenous children and young people deserve a Canada where they can reclaim their identity, where their resilience is recognized and supported, and their culture celebrated. They have the right to develop to their full potential as valued and engaged citizens within their Indigenous nations and Canada.
In 2015, Save the Children Canada committed to addressing Indigenous child inequality and discrimination by engaging with Indigenous knowledge-keepers and Indigenous child rights experts to develop the Wi-Mino-Kisikat Relationship Framework (Wi-Mino-Kisikat means “it is going to be a good day – a new beginning” in the Saulteaux language. The framework was named by Raymond Shingoose).
The Framework was developed to exemplify the principles of Reconciliation and take an Indigenous-led and rights-based approach to establish meaningful relationships with Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) communities and children. In 2017, the launch of the National Reconciliation Program (NRP) reaffirmed our commitment to Indigenous children by establishing a domestic program to contribute to Truth and Reconciliation efforts in Canada.
The philosophy of the National Reconciliations Program aligns with statements made by former Senator Murray Sinclair, who noted, “Reconciliation will never be achieved so long as one side sees it as a recognition of rights, and the other side sees it as an act of benevolence.” The NRP’s approach to partnerships and programs is consistent with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
With more than 100 years of history, Save the Children has also committed to learn more about, and take responsibility for, any action – or inaction – that contributed to the discrimination experienced by Indigenous children and people. For true healing to occur, we must not be silent; we must speak out and take action against rights violations. Thus, the NRP specifically focuses on supporting Indigenous children and youth to assert their inherent right to be self-determined human beings.
Because of our commitment to Reconciliation, and to creating a nation centred on equity, respect and partnership, our domestic program, the NRP, operates differently. The program is informed, and led by Indigenous leadership and is built on principles of reconciliation, cultural humility and safety and collaboration. Furthermore, in acknowledgment of the undue harm the name Save the Children could cause within Indigenous communities. We came to the uncomfortable and shameful truth that our name and reputation in the face of more than 150 years of forced child extraction, compounded with many years of silence and inaction, were re-traumatizing and insensitive to Indigenous peoples and children.
We have made concerted and purposeful efforts to enhance and strengthen our governance and institutional decision-making processes by including Indigenous leadership on our board of directors and among our senior leadership. We have more work to do and we will move forward with Wi-Mino-Kisikat on a rights based, Indigenous led path. We commit to continue to advance and build on the successes of this journey and learn from its failures.