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Walk sheds light on inequality

An event at Maffeo Sutton Park today (June 19) aims to highlight the inequality between funding that First Nations and non-aboriginal children receive, says a Snuneymuxw band councillor.

The Our Dreams Matter Too event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Maffeo Sutton Park was first launched in 2011 by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, to bring awareness to the funding inadequacies facing First Nations children who reside on reserves, according to Emmy Manson, also a director of community services for the Inter Tribal Health Authority.

First Nations children on reserves get less support for services like education, health and child welfare as opposed to other children, making it harder for them to achieve their dreams and grow in the same way other children do, according to Manson. She said studies have found money for First Nations children and family service agencies is inadequate and inequitable – First Nations children on reserve receive 22 per cent less for child welfare than other children.

“For example, if my child lives on reserve, he gets $4,000 less than a child who lives and goes to Bayview [Elementary School] and lives off reserve, so that creates a lack of resource around them to be equal with regards to service delivery,” Manson said. “It’s because they live on a certain physical location that they’re treated differently.”

It is her belief that if the children receive the same funding, they would have equal opportunity to succeed, much like other children across the country.

The event supports three campaigns: Shannen’s Dream, which advocates for safe, comfortable schools and quality education; Jordan’s Principle which seeks ensure equal access to all government services; and I am a Witness, which seeks to help First Nations children grow up safely at home.

“We want equity, we want to have the same rights as everybody and we want to be able to teach our children in our own communities and let them grow up in a safe community and have the option of going to a school that does teach their own language and their own culture,” said Manson.

This event and others lead up to National Aboriginal Day on Saturday (June 21). Snuneymuxw First Nation will be holding a celebration and groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of its community building tomorrow (June 20) at 1145 Totem Rd. at 10 a.m.

reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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