Government of Canada, with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation leaders, announce co-developed legislation will be introduced on Indigenous child and family services in early 2019
“Moving forward with federal legislation on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation child and family services is a vital step toward ensuring Indigenous children are never again forcibly taken from their homes without their parents’ consent. Every possible measure should be taken to prevent Indigenous child apprehension and to reunite children with their families. New federal legislation is a powerful tool to support these efforts.”
The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services
“This is a critical step in supporting the rights and well-being of Indigenous children. The status quo is not acceptable. This proposed legislation will reaffirm the rights of Indigenous children and put in place the much needed supports for communities to ensure that Indigenous children can grow up as proud First Nations, Métis and Inuit with a strong sense of secure personal cultural identity and better health, education and economic outcomes. ”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“First Nations are ready to reform child and family services in ways that respect our rights, cultures and family structures. First Nations have been held back for years by outdated laws, and we continue to experience the trauma and loss when children and families are broken apart. Legislation, co-developed with First Nations, is an important step toward addressing the need for reform across the entire system. First Nations are ready to focus on prevention over apprehension, and apply First Nations laws, policies and cultural values that place children at the centre of our Nations.”
National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
“Inuit are committed to working constructively and on a distinctions basis towards the co-development of federal child and family welfare legislation to help meaningfully address social inequity in Inuit Nunangat, and across Canada, and ultimately decrease the overrepresentation of Inuit children in care.”
President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
“This proposed legislation will provide a new chapter towards increased recognition that we, the Métis Nation, are best placed to nurture and to care for our children. This is an unprecedented initiative that will ensure the survival, dignity and well-being of our families, communities and nation for generations to come”.
President, Métis National Council
Indigenous children represent 52.2% of children in foster care in private homes in Canada but account for only 7.7% of the overall child population.
The first five Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission relate to child welfare.
Call to Action #4 calls “upon the federal government to enact Aboriginal child-welfare legislation that establishes national standards for Aboriginal child apprehension and custody cases and includes principles that:
- Affirm the right of Aboriginal governments to establish and maintain their own child-welfare agencies.
- Require all child-welfare agencies and courts to take the residential school legacy into account in their decision making.
- Establish, as an important priority, a requirement that placements of Aboriginal children into temporary and permanent care be culturally appropriate.”
In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Canada’s First Nations Child and Family Services Program was discriminatory and ordered Canada to immediately address the issue. The ruling prompted further discussion on the creation of federal legislation as a way to ensure better care for Indigenous children.
New federal legislation was also called for in an Interim Report by the National Advisory Committee on First Nations Child and Family Services, and in a resolution passed in May of 2018 by the Assembly of First Nations in support of the establishment of federal-enabling legislation for First Nations.
In January 2018, the federal government held a National Emergency Meeting on First Nation, Inuit, and Métis child and family services with representatives of the Indigenous peoples and nations, the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council, Indigenous service organizations, experts and practitioners, elders, grandmothers and youth with lived experience. At this meeting, the Government of Canada announced its commitment to Six Points of Action that included the potential for federal legislation, as called for in TRC Call to Action #4.
- Reducing the number of Indigenous Children in foster care
- A report on children and families together: An Emergency Meeting on Indigenous child and family services
- Engagement on potential legislation co-developed with Indigenous communities on child and family services
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action - PDF format (299 Kb, 20 pages)
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Indigenous Services
ISC Media Relations
Assembly of First Nations
Jenna Young Castro
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Media
Métis National Council
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