Minister of Health Pledges More Support for Well-Being of Aboriginal Children and Youth in Canada

Ottawa, Ontario – Nov. 19, 2010 – The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today announced five-year funding to renew important health programs aimed at supporting the well-being of Aboriginal children and youth in Canada.

The investment in Aboriginal Head Start programs supports First Nations, Inuit and Métis families with infants and young children to help ensure they grow up healthy and reach their full potential. These programs help to meet the cultural, physical, nutritional, social and psychological needs of Aboriginal children.In Budget 2010, the Government of Canada announced $20 million to support the renewal of these two programs over two years. Today, the Minister announced funding totalling $50 million, on the eve of National Child Day, which extends the original funding over five years for the Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) and the Aboriginal Head Start On-Reserve (AHSOR) programs. These two initiatives aim to provide Aboriginal children with a positive sense of themselves, a desire for learning and opportunities to develop fully as successful young people.

“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring Canadian children and youth are treated with dignity and respect, protected from harm, and given equal and full opportunities for health, well-being and development,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “Programs like these not only prepare children for their school years, but also for a good start in life.”

“These programs, delivered in partnership with First Nations and Inuit communities, provide important support to improve the health of Aboriginal people by promoting culturally-relevant and community-driven activities for healthy living, mental wellness and healthy child development — key goals of the Declaration on Prevention and Promotion announced by Ministers of Health and Health Promotion/Healthy Living in September,” she added.

The Minister is encouraging all Canadians to celebrate National Child Day, a day which commemorates the United Nations’ adoption of the United Nations Declaration of Rights of the Child on November 20, 1959, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1989. Minister Aglukkaq is asking Canadians to take an active role to help ensure children and youth are treated with dignity and respect, protected from harm and given equal and full opportunities for survival and development.

More on National Child Day

National Child Day, November 20, marks the importance of promoting and safeguarding the rights of children and youth in Canada and abroad. It is a day that is devoted to recognizing the basic human rights to which children everywhere in the world are entitled. Those rights include the right to the best health care possible, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, information to help them stay well, the right to education and the right for indigenous peoples to practice their culture and language.

More on Aboriginal Head Start Programs (AHS)

• The Aboriginal Head Start Programs respond to the needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families. It helps children build:

o knowledge and pride in their culture
o skills so that they are ready for school
o social skills such as communication, respect, helping others
o an understanding of foods that are good for them
o healthy habits such as brushing their teeth, washing their hands and being active

• In addition, the Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve supports outreach services focused on the delivery of AHS components by trained community outreach workers in First Nations communities on reserve.

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For more information, please contact

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations

Health Canada
Media Relations

Office of the Minister of Health
Jenny Van Alystyne
Media Relations Officer

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