Grand Chief Kavanaugh reacts to court decision on health curriculum
Wednesday, March 6, 2019 – Today Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh, Grand Chief of Treaty 3, delivered the following statement:
“Grand Council Treaty 3 is committed to advancing the best interests of Anishinaabe young people in our communities. We intervened in the judicial review of the Ford government’s rollback of the province’s Health and Physical Education Curriculum because we recognize that the loss of modern, inclusive, and fact-based health information from classrooms disproportionately impacts First Nations young people.
“There continues to be no group in our society for which the disadvantage and harm caused by not having access to resources on sexual health, gender-based violence, and healthy relationships is more acutely and directly felt than that of First Nations youth. We perpetuate the destructive legacy of residential schools – and the intergenerational trauma they left behind – when we deny our young people access to modern, fact-based health information that they are less likely than other kids to get outside of school. To that end, I take some exception to the Divisional Court’s reference to the record of these harms as ‘speculative’, in light of the intergenerational traumas which are well-documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and other studies and investigations.
“While this court application was ultimately unsuccessful, we will continue to advocate for the safety and wellbeing of our young people. The fact remains that First Nations youth are less likely than their peers to receive accurate health information from family or other mentors, are at increased risk of experiencing domestic and gender-based violence or abuse, often live in communities with limited health resources or infrastructure, and continue to experience difficulty accessing higher levels of education where further health resources or information may be available. Indigenous groups also demonstrate concerning sexual health statistics compared to other populations.
“I want to express my sincere thanks to John Adair and Stephanie Bishop Hall of Adair Goldblatt Bieber LLP for representing us in this important proceeding and helping give voice to our concerns before the court. Miigwetch.”
Douglas W. Judson