Director of Operations named, further details announced for Bringing Our Children Home Initiative
Tim Brody - Editor
Lac Seul First Nation and its partners, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) and Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC), have announced James Cutfeet as Director of Operations to lead the Bringing Our Children Home Initiative.
“The Bringing Our Children Home Initiative arose from the 215 unmarked graves found of missing children at the former Kamloops Residential School grounds in British Columbia. However, the matters surrounding the Initiative have been a major concern for the region for many years.
“On July 14, 2021, Lac Seul First Nation held a Bringing Our Children Home Gathering, 307 participants attended. The Gathering saw survivors and their families; regional organizations; regional institutions; and provincial and federal governments. On August 25, 2021, Chief Clifford Bull hand delivered the Bringing Our Children Home Proposal to Indigenous Services Canada Deputy Minister Christiane Fox. On September 22, 2021, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) Chiefs in Assembly passed a Resolution authorizing Lac Seul First Nation to lead Bringing Our Children Home on their behalf of its 33 First Nations. Lac Seul First Nation will take the lead on behalf of its partners, SLFNHA (33 First Nation communities) and NNEC (24 First Nation communities), a joint press release issued on Nov. 3 by SLFNHA, Lac Seul First Nation and NNEC informed.
The joint news release states, “James has years of senior management experience within Indigenous organizations, federal and provincial governments. James is also a former Chief of his community, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug.”
Lac Seul First Nation presented the Bringing Our Children Home Initiative and the proposed candidate at its Community Annual General Meeting.
The joint news release informed, “The federal government on June 2, 2021, announced $27 million to assist Indigenous communities locating and memorializing children who died at residential schools.
“Lac Seul First Nation submitted a three-year funding application. The application, in its first year, is approved in principle and interim funding will be transferred by Indigenous Services Canada, to begin the Initiative immediately.
“On June 15, 2021, Ontario committed $10 million to identify and commemorate residential school burial sites. Recently, Ontario, on October 29, 2021, announced additional funding in the amount of $36 million for Mental Health and Addictions Support for Indigenous Communities. Over $20 million will be invested in Indigenous-focused mental health and addictions programs and services to directly support residential school survivors.
“The initial year of Bringing Our Children Home Initiative will focus on community engagements to establish protocols for when remains are found. The focus will be on testimonies to help focus the search areas and ensure that everything is done in a good way.”
The joint news release informed that residential school survivors will be involved throughout the Bringing Our Children Home Initiative process.
“Mental health and spiritual supports will be key prerequisites for the Initiative. The Director of Operations will be responsible to ensure the support is in place,” the joint news release stated, concluding, “It is anticipated that in the fall of 2022, the search for unmarked graves and missing children will commence on the Lac Seul First Nation Traditional Territory.”