Ontario’s Advocate for Children and Youth's special report by First Nations youth urges local, provincial, federal and First Nations leadership to partner with them to create safer, healthier communities for northern remote and fly ‐ in First Nations communities. The report, Feathers of Hope: A First Nations Youth Action Plan includes three main recommendations and a series of ‘steps to make hope real’.
The action plan is rooted in the voices of First Nations more than 160 youth from 64 of Ontario’s northern First Nations communities who participated in the Feathers of Hope youth forums in Thunder Bay and Kashechewan last year. The youth gathered to talk about the realities of their communities and to identify a path forward where they could lead the change.
The youth identified 15 themes and urge all levels of leadership to take immediate action to address these issues:
- Residential schools and their effects: dispelling myths; identity and culture; First Nations culture and teachings; quality of education; education and schools; the tragedy of youth suicide; mental and physical health; drugs and alcohol; sports and recreation; youth opportunity and leadership; role models and mentors; sustainable funding; child welfare, accountability and transparency.
Key recommendations made by the youth include:
- Provincial, federal, First Nations leadership and other interested organizations must join together and take immediate action to meet the needs and challenges faced by First Nations youth.
- All actions and strategies to address the issues the youth have identified must be created with First Nations young people as equal partners.
- A five ‐ year strategy must be created to focus on the themes raised by youth in forum discussions.
- Within 60 days of the release of the action plan, the Province of Ontario, the federal government, and representatives of First Nations leadership from each treaty area in Ontario’s north, (Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Treaty 3, Robinson Superior) will publically state their support for and commitment to working together with First Nations youth to ensure the five year strategy remains focused on creating real change tied to the themes.