PM Trudeau, Sask. premier to attend ceremony at Cowessess First Nation

Cowessess First Nation will assert jurisdiction of children in care, with support from the prime minister and the Premier of Saskatchewan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Scott Moe will sign a fiscal agreement at the Cowessess First Nation at 2 p.m. on July 6. The event will be streamed live on CTVNewsRegina.ca and CTVNewsSaskatoon.ca.

Orange flags mark burial sites in a cemetery near the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School on the Cowessess First Nation. (Kaylyn Whibbs/CTV News)

Cowessess First Nation, located 164 kilometres east of Regina, announced on June 24 that it had found an estimated 751 unmarked burial sites on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School. That news came less than a month after the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves at Kamloops Residential School in Kamloops, B.C.

The Miyo Pimatisowin Act, which was ratified by Cowessess residents in March 2020, asserts the community’s right to care for children and families in need. The Act is a stepping-stone in the community’s effort to create its own plan for self-governance. The Act is the first of its kind in Canada.

After years of planning and discussion, the newly installed act reverts the responsibility from the province back to the rights holder, Cowessess First Nation. The approach focuses on prevention, ensuring families have the resources to decolonize their homes and manage the impact inter-generational trauma.

“The coordination agreement is a transition plan to assure the transfer of jurisdiction is professional and at the face of Cowessess First Nation,” Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said in an email to the community. “The fiscal agreement confirms the investiment the Government of Canada and Government of Saskatchewan takes in supporting the Cowessess First Nation.”

The plan is to reset the way child welfare is approached from the core, identifying and assessing each case from psychological, physical, emotional and spiritual perspectives to make sure those areas are fulfilled for their children. Delorme said with this act every child in care from Cowessess stays connected to the reserve.

The program is currently run from an existing office, but plans are in the works for a new home at the Chief Red Bear Children's Lodge.

As growth happens over the years more buildings and staff will be available and urban areas, such as Regina, will see full services as well.

Cowessess First Nation asserting jurisdiction of children in care.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Scott Moe will visit Cowessess First Nation to stand beside us as we sign and celebrate. �� pic.twitter.com/Gj5Rc94QQH

— Cadmus (@cadmusd) July 5, 2021

In the email, Delorme said COVID-19 guidelines will be followed, and no more than 150 people will be permitted to attend the event at the powwow grounds.

With files from CTV News Regina's Kaylyn Whibbs.