Partnering with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Royal Canadian Police Force (RCMP), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is starting an outreach program to let First Nations citizens know what resources are available not only for when children go missing but also how to prevent their getting lost in the first place.
The measure was announced on February 21 on the first day of the AFN’s National Justice Forum.
“We are announcing a joint effort to help ensure that all First Nations and aboriginal communities in Canada know where to turn when a child is missing,” said Christy Dzikowicz, director of MissingKids.ca, in a statement. “We are living in a more complex world, and our children are facing new risks. In addition to providing step-by-step guides and tools, MissingKids.ca’s specially trained staff is always there to support families in their search to find their missing child.”
The Canadian government is supporting the initiative through its Department of Justice Victims Fund. The program enables the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to reach out to First Nations and Aboriginal people via several avenues.
AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo said the outreach is partly in response to an increasing number of vanishing youths.
“The stark reality that more and more First Nation youth go missing in Canada each year is unacceptable,” Atleo said in a statement. “As the leaders of today, First Nation youth must be supported and nurtured to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential. The Assembly of First Nations is proud to work together with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to support the development of First Nation resources and tools to be available to First Nations youth right within their communities.”
Atleo has made two public-service announcements to be broadcast on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN). In addition the AFN will donate more than 150,000 pieces of MissingKids.ca program materials to 650 band offices and 700 RCMP and First Nation police detachments across the country, the group said. MissingKids.ca staff will also reach out to First Nations communities, the release said, finding out what they need and raising awareness.
The public service announcements can be seen at MissingKids.ca’s website.