We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care by:
- Monitoring and assessing neglect investigations
- Providing adequate resources to enable Aboriginal communities and child-welfare organizations to keep Aboriginal families together where it is safe to do so, and to keep children in culturally appropriate environments, regardless of where they reside.
- Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the history and impacts of residential schools.
- Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing.
- Requiring that all child-welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers.
Indigenous Watchdog Status Update
|Current Status||Nov. 9, 2020||IN PROGRESS|
|Previous Status||Aug. 17, 2020||IN PROGRESS|
Why “In Progress?”
Although there is no coordinated plan in place to monitor and assess neglect investigation across all jurisdictions – federal, provincial and territory – each government has initiated specific plans to directly address i, ii, and iii. National Professional Social Worker organizations address iv and v.
- No formal mechanism in place at the federal, provincial or territory levels to monitor and assess neglect investigations but there are a number of initiatives under way in all jurisdictions.
- 55% of Federal funding of $3,295M from Budgets 2016, 2018 and 2019 is back-ended to after the 2019 election. Multiple initiatives in provinces and territories to address provincial/territory jurisdictions. Manitoba has postponed the elimination of Birth Alerts and will continue to apprehend Indigenous babies
- Canadian Association of Social Work Education Action Plan is being implemented. Canadian Association of Social Workers and Provincial Social Work organizations have multiple initiatives under way.
- iv, v Same as iii above
The Candian Human Rights Tribunal decision to award damages Oct. 4, 2019 – Federal Government appeals CHRC damages award of $2B blaming the Dec. 10 deadline to draft and implement a compensation plan to be too short to allow for effective consultation.
Sept. 6, 2019 – Canadian Human Rights Tribunal awards $2B in damages to First Nations children apprehended by child welfare authorities on or after Jan. 1, 2006 as well as to those denied essential services as per Jordan’s principle, (C2A # 3)
The section below discusses government commitments relating to the first two points of Call to Action #1. Those points are:
- Monitoring and assessing neglect investigations
- Providing adequate resources to enable Aboriginal communities and child-welfare organizations to keep Aboriginal families together where it is safe to do so, and to keep children in culturally appropriate environments, regardless of where they reside
Jan. 25, 2018 – Emergency Meeting on Child and Family Services between federal and provincial and territory government officials and leaders of Indigenous groups. Priorities:
- Continuing the work to fully implement all orders from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal;
- Shifting the programming focus to prevention and early intervention;
- Exploring the potential for co-developed federal child welfare legislation;
- Supporting Inuit and Métis Nation leadership to advance culturally-appropriate reform;
- Developing a data and reporting strategy with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners; and
- Accelerating the work of trilateral technical tables that are in place across the country.
March 27, 2018 – The Government of Canada announced at Métis Nation-sponsored Summit on The Child and Family Services Conference direct dialogue with the Métis National Council Governing Members on the over-representation of Métis children and youth in the child welfare systems in Ontario and the four western provinces. Discussions in the child and family services area will be undertaken under the Métis Nation Accord which outlines a process to tackle shared priorities. $1M in funding to the Métis National Council and Governing Members to support consultation efforts towards culturally appropriate child welfare reform.
Feb. 28, 2019 – Bill C-92 “An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families” introduced in Parliament. Co-developed with Indigenous partners, Bill C-92 “seeks to affirm” Indigenous peoples’ inherent right to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services.
Mar. 15, 2019 – The Government of Canada is supporting the Anishinabek Nation in their efforts to improve the safety and well-being of First Nations children and families and rebuild their nations in a manner that responds to the priorities and unique needs of their nation. Announcement of Indigenous Services Canada’s contribution of over $1.5 million in funding for the Community Well-Being and Jurisdiction Initiative to support Koganaasawin, the central support body.
June 20, 2019 – “Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families” passed in House of Commons. “The goal with this legislation is to apply laws, policies and values to systems designed and implemented by First Nations for First Nations with the focus on providing every opportunity for our children to grow up feeling valued and connected to their families, cultures and nations.” National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
Sept. 5, 2019 – Response focuses primarily on funding: $635M Budget 2016 investment over 5 years to address funding gaps in First Nations Child and Family Services and provide greater support for culturally appropriate prevention services and front-line service delivery. Budget 2018 provided a $1.4B investment over six years for the First Nations Child and Family Services Program for on-reserve families and children to address funding issues and increase prevention programs. To support the safety and well-being of First Nations children and families living on reserve, other commitments include:
- Implementing the full orders of the Candian Human Rights Tribunal
- Reimburse funding to Family and Child Service agencies based on actual costs for prevention, intake and investigation, legal fees, building repairs and and small agencies in the best interest of the child
- Reforming First Nations Child and Family services program
See also Official Government Response below
Sept. 4, 2020: Canadian Press – the federal government has agreed to certify the claims put forward by the Assembly of First Nations and the Moushoom class counsel in their class-action lawsuit from Feb. 12, 2020 and enter into mediation to reach a negotiated settlement for damages and justice for the thousands of First Nations children and families that have been discriminated against by Canada’s child welfare system that incentivized the removal of First Nation children from their families and Nations.
Nov. 5, 2020 – $992, 895 to support the implementation of the Anishinabek Nation’s Circle Process to Support Child and Youth Well-being. The Circle Process is a culturally-founded alternative dispute resolution mechanism to assist Anishinabek families with conflict resolution. The Circle Process compliments the implementation of Anishinabek Nation’s Child Well-Being Law. This process addresses longstanding concerns with the current approach, which has been unwelcoming and culturally inappropriate. It serves as a system to help find solutions for families who have conflict at home to find other ways to heal and resolve conflicts rather than to simply remove the child from the home and community. The Circle Process recognizes and validates the importance of restoring balance, respect, and harmony to the family. The Circle Process will provide a holistic approach to supporting the needs of families in the Anishinabek Nation.
April 7, 2017 – Reconciliation Charter: tripartite agreement between Governments of Canada and BC and First Nations Leadership Council to reduce the number of First Nations children in care, to keep families together and support First Nations youth to successfully transition out of care.
Sept. 6, 2018 – Implementing the recommendations from Grand Chief Ed John’s report, Indigenous Resilience, Connectedness and Reunification – From Root Causes to Root Solutions, and provide better supports so Indigenous children grow up in their communities and not in care. http://cwrp.ca/sites/default/files/publications/en/final-report-of-grand-chief-ed-john-re-indig-child-welfare-in-bc-november-2016.pdf
Nov. 18, 2017 – Ministry of Children and Family Development delegates child-protection authority for Métis families in the Kamloops area to Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services. We’re working collaboratively and respectfully with Indigenous and Métis agencies and communities to ensure they have the right tools, funding and support to make a difference for the children and families they serve.”
Jan. 25, 2018 – Formal response to Emergency Meeting in Child and Family Services in Ottawa: The Reconciliation Charter is a high-level political commitment to achieve child-welfare reform focused on addressing current policy and legislative frameworks related to First Nations children and families. It is also focused on improving relations, identifying potential governance models for First Nations communities and targeting investments in programs that support prevention, cultural connections, family reunification and First Nations‘ right to self-governance
April 25, 2018 – First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) while acknowledging “some promising components” in Bill 26 also have the following concerns:
- The amendments were prepared unilaterally and without consultation by BC
- The amendments are technical and operational and do not go far enough in addressing the principles of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action and our inherent right to self-determination and self-government.
- The amendments do not lay the foundation for the more significant shift required to change the child welfare conditions where the overrepresentation of First Nations children in care remains the most serious issue
First Nations of BC and others have called on Government to lay the foundation for change by recognizing and committing to the TRC Calls to Action—especially the first five Calls to Action on the legacy of child welfare systems. Any amendments must recognize the inherent rights we have as Nations to make decisions for our children, and the need for this to become integral to child welfare so we can end the mess that the policies of control and colonialism have left for this and potentially future generations
June 5, 2018 – The 90,000-strong Métis community in British Columbia is one step closer to taking over child welfare authority for their children and families, with the historic signing of an MNBC and British Columbia Joint Commitment between the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) and the Province setting the goal of transferring authority to MBNC by 2021. The main objectives of the joint commitment are to significantly reduce the number of Métis children and youth in government care, support family preservation, and work on the legislative and other requirements to support transfer of authority over B.C.’s Métis children and families to MNBC.
July 23, 2018 – Secwépemc Chiefs signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the provincial and federal governments on jurisdiction for child and family services. This MOU provides a framework that charts the path forward in recognizing and implementing Secwépemc jurisdiction. “Keeping children and families together, surrounded by their culture and community, is critical for the well-being and healthy development of any child. This Memorandum of Understanding commits all orders of government to working in partnership to recognize and affirm First Nations jurisdiction over child and family services”, The Honourable Jane Philpott, M.D., P.C., M.P., Minister of Indigenous Services
Aug. 21, 2018 – Minister of Indigenous Services, announced funding to support the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Social Services Project on child and family services ($4.2M/yr for 5 years; BC Govt $400K). The Province of British Columbia is also providing financial and other support to this initiative. Federal funding will go towards community initiatives such as expanding current pregnancy support and parenting education programs, hiring family and protection support workers, and developing opportunities for youth engagement and cultural awareness.
In addition, Minister Philpott held an engagement roundtable with the Nuu-chah-nulth community leaders to discuss co-created options for potential Indigenous child and family services federal legislation.
Jan. 25, 2019 – Signing of a Letter of Understanding (LOU) to support the development of a framework and process for Cowichan Tribes to exercise their jurisdiction over child and family services for their members. This LOU between Canada, British Columbia and the Cowichan Tribes provides a framework that charts the path forward in recognizing and implementing Cowichan jurisdiction over their child and family services
May 26, 2020 – The First Nations Children and Youth in Care Protocol commits the Province and First Nations to work together on specific issues and initiatives, seeking to improve the educational outcomes and well-being of Indigenous children and youth in care, and former youth in care through legislative, policy and practice reform and family services. Work will include easing transitions into the school system, from grade to grade, and out of the school system to post-secondary or the workforce. The protocol is also intended to ensure supports and services are tailored to the needs of each child and their specific circumstances, in a way that connects them to their language and culture.
While approximately 12% of the student population in B.C. is Indigenous, about 67% of youth in care identify as Indigenous. Indigenous children and youth in government care experience poorer education outcomes than students in the general population. For example, the 2016-17 six-year public school completion rate for Indigenous students in government care in B.C. was 44.1%, while the public school completion rate for all students in B.C. was 83.7%. The new protocol commits all signatories to develop a strategic plan and meet twice a year to review progress toward the common goal of addressing systemic barriers facing Indigenous students who are either currently in care and or who have aged out of care.
Feb. 20, 2018 – Official grand opening of the Nations of Treaty 8 Urban Child and Family Services Office in Edmonton. The Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta designed the concept of an urban office as an approach to provide prevention and early intervention services to children and families on reserve. The Urban Office will provide services to children who are currently in the care of the First Nation child and family service agencies and placed in urban centres.
The Nations of Treaty 8 Urban Child and Family Services Office provides cultural services to First Nations families living in urban centres. The long-term vision is for multiple Urban Offices to provide services to all First Nations children in care in Alberta. https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/212cd3e9-c496-4ecd-b254-5bbe7b13aa7d/resource/7a7ab135-21e0-44aa-9112-e9a458a33103/download/stronger-safer-tomorrow-public-action-plan.pdf
Oct. 31, 2018 – Bill 22 – “The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act” overhauled with 26 recommendations including formal notification of an Indigenous child’s band following an application for private guardianship, mandatory home inspections and cultural connection plans, strict new public reporting requirements around deaths and injuries, and funding for supports being tied to a child, rather than their guardian. The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (CYFEA) rejig comes from work by Alberta’s all-party child intervention panel formed after the death of Serenity, a four-year-old First Nations girl who was a ward of the state living in kinship care before she died. (Edmonton Journal)
July 24, 2017 – Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations signed a Letter of Accord to reform child and family services for First Nations. Canada is providing funding of $441,176 to FSIN to begin its work with communities. Their findings will contribute greatly to long-term strategic planning and the redesign of how child and family services are delivered to First Nations. This will be a community and land- based model of governance based on Treaty and Inherent rights.
Feb. 20, 2019 – The winter session of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) voted Tuesday on three measures to improve conditions for Indigenous children:
- The FSIN prepare for a potential upcoming court case with the Saskatchewan government about the treatment of Indigenous children in foster care. The potential court case would come if the federal government does not table a proposed bill regarding Indigenous child welfare before the House of Commons rises for the summer, FSIN Second Vice Chief Dave Pratt said.
- ask the United Nations to be an intervener in that potential court case, which would allow the UN, in some form, to presumably support the FSIN against the federal government.
- ask the federal government for a mandatory audit of all Indigenous children in foster care across the country. The original resolution limited the audit to Saskatchewan, but was amended.
Mar. 5, 2019 – The Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) have agreed to work together toward better outcomes for Indigenous children, youth and families. One of the first priorities for the province and STC is the implementation of a “First Contact Panel Protocol.” The protocol will bring Social Services and STC representatives together in a formal way with families involved in the child welfare system, so all parties can participate in planning and decision-making for children.
Mar. 15, 2019 – The Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) officially signed agreements to work toward “meaningful improvements in the lives of children, youth and families”: a new Delegation Agreement, Children and Families Reconciliation Partnership Agreement and First Contact Panel Protocol. The partnership agreement identifies a number of short-term and longer-term priorities, including:
- Reviewing plans for STC First Nations children and youth in care to ensure they support connections to culture, language, identity and community;
- Exploring options to repurpose Saskatchewan Housing Corporation units to provide emergency and other services for STC children, youth and families;
- Collaborating with the Ministry of Justice on services and resources for parents and children fleeing domestic violence;
- Establishing a joint Child Welfare Innovation Committee to improve child and family services;
- Establishing a Leaders Forum to oversee work being done under the partnership agreement; and
- Working to keep First Nations mothers and their newborns together through better prenatal prevention and support, and to reduce birth alerts and the trauma associated with interventions during the prenatal and post-natal period.
Dec. 8, 2018 – Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Jane Philpott, along with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett and Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs signed an MOU aimed at achieving concrete outcomes in child welfare, and supporting the needs and aspirations of First Nations in Manitoba. The MOU demonstrates Canada’s commitment to work with First Nations in Manitoba on a nation-to-nation basis toward the well-being of First Nations families and children.
Sept. 2018 – “Transforming Child Welfare Legislation in Manitoba: Opportunities to Improve Outcomes for Children and Youth”. Report of the Legislative Review Committee. The recommendations are premised on the fact that over 90% of all children in care in Manitoba are Indigenous. “Among Canadian provinces, Manitoba has the highest rate of children in care.” Recommendations are organized around the following themes:
- Purpose statement and guiding principles
- Legal definitions
- Community involvement
- Determining when a child is in need of protection or intervention
- Safety and risk assessments
- Planning for children in care
- Transition supports for youth
- Youth rights
- Other recommendations
June 10, 2018 – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) remains resolute that First Nations must lead child welfare reform in Manitoba, and calls on Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to ensure Manitoba Minister of Families Scott Fielding respects First Nations jurisdiction and stops his continued divisive and unilateral approach to child welfare reform. While Minister Fielding has said he is open to hearing what we have to say, he did not invite the AMC to participate on his legislative review committee. This is despite the fact the AMC is willing to work with Manitoba, and requested twice to assist in drafting or re-writing the CFS legislation.” This position is consistent with the December 19, 2017 resolution of the AMC Executive Council of Chiefs. It includes opposing the Province of Manitoba’s Child Welfare System Reform and its promotion of permanent guardianship of First Nations children and of Social Impact Bonds. The AMC resolution also demands that the Province of Manitoba cease any further unilateral actions that purport to reform the Manitoba Child and Family Services system. Once again, the AMC leadership was unified in its call for a complete overhaul of the current system that was built on colonial policies and practices that have failed our children and families for decades.
Mar. 6, 2018 – The province will proclaim The Advocate for Children and Youth Act to come into force March 15. The act expands the mandate of the children’s advocate, an independent officer of the Manitoba legislature.The act responds to 11 key recommendations in a report by commissioner Ted Hughes following the Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Phoenix Sinclair. The new act will empower the advocate’s office and expand its mandate beyond the CFS system so it can support Manitobans between birth and age 21 who receive or are eligible to receive a broad range of government-funded services,
Mar. 19, 2018 – Introduced initial amendments to The Child and Family Services (CFS) Act that would allow Indigenous communities to create care plans for children that recognize and reflect their unique customs. Once passed and proclaimed, the bill will see these needs entrenched in all care decisions related to First Nations, Métis and Inuit children. Indigenous families would be able to request customary care services and supports from their CFS agency. Communities would be able to work with agencies to identify customary caregivers, assist with the design of care plans for children and share in the responsibility for keeping children safe. The bill would enable CFS support for children who live with customary caregivers and allow sharing information for the purpose of customary care
Oct. 24, 2018 – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Chiefs-in-Assembly endorsed the “Bringing Our Children Home Act”. “Today, we are reclaiming our collective sovereignty and jurisdiction for the care and protection of our children in every way in order to ensure we safeguard their well-being, provide them with a cultural shield according to our respective Anishinaabeg, Anishinininwak, Dakota Oyate, Denesuline, and Nehethowuk/Inninwak identity, culture, traditions, values, customs and languages.” Part 1. Our Root Foundations “Bringing Our Children Home Act: A Manitoba Specific Federal Legislation for Children and Families
Feb. 7, 2019 – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requesting him to direct the ministers of Indigenous Services Canada and Justice Canada to work with First Nations leadership in Manitoba to jointly draft a federal bill that will fund and give effect to Manitoba First Nations through the “Bringing Our Children Home Act.” that is Manitoba-specific, informed and drafted by Manitoba First Nations so that it specifically addresses the regional-specific child welfare issues for Manitoba First Nations.https://manitobachiefs.com/wp-content/uploads/02-07-19-Ltr-to-PM-Trudeau-re-Child-Welfare-MB.pdf
Feb. 14, 2019 – First Nation leaders in Manitoba say the provincial government’s announced child welfare reform this week ignores efforts by Indigenous communities that are trying to regain jurisdiction over their own children. “The province of Manitoba continues to ignore the longstanding position and resolutions of the AMC Chiefs-in-Assembly – including the “Bringing our Children Home Act” – that seeks to reassert First Nations’ jurisdiction and approach to our children and families,” Acting AMC Grand Chief Glenn Hudson of Peguis First Nation.
Hudson said in Wednesday’s statement, adding the province did not consult with First Nation leadership on the decision. (To move to Block Funding model for all CFS agencies). AMC position is that the previous CSA funds should be re-distributed to the impacted Children’s Aid Societies).
Manitoba has the highest incidence of Indigenous children in care (11,000 representing 90% of the total).
Feb. 22, 2019 – The Indigenous Leadership Council – President Dave Chartrand of the Manitoba Metis Federation, Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) and Grand Chief Garrison Settee of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) – met yesterday with Minister of Families, Heather Stefanson, to discuss the province’s decision to move to block funding for children and family services. The three Leaders expressed their concerns to Minister Stefanson and noted that they had not been consulted on the decision to move to block funding. All three Leaders made it clear to the Minister that as the representatives for their respective governments, they should be consulted by the provincial government on funding, policy, and strategic decisions. As noted by Manitoba Liberal Party Leader, Dougald Lamont, the amount of funding proposed in this new plan is $108,000,000 less than the $543,000,000 agencies spent in 2017/2018.
Mar. 12, 2019 – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) renews its call for an independent inquiry into the death of Tina Fontaine. The investigation, report and recommendations are a start, but the content remains firmly based in a colonial approach as it pushes First Nations aside and advances an investigation from outside provincial jurisdiction, and does not attempt to reconcile working with First Nations and respect our jurisdiction,” said Acting Grand Chief Kennedy.
June 10, 2019 – Manitoba’s first social impact bond (SIB) will launch this fall. Southern First Nations Network of Care (SFNNC) has successfully raised the more than $2.6 million required from private investors to deliver Restoring the Sacred Bond – a project designed to connect at-risk Indigenous mothers with doulas, also known as birth helpers. Manitoba’s first social impact bond (SIB) will launch this fall, Families Minister Heather Stefanson and Tara Petti, chief executive officer.
Jan. 31, 2020 – Government of Manitoba announced that as of April 1, child welfare and public health systems in Manitoba will be ready to more effectively and proactively connect mothers with supports, and will no longer issue birth alerts for high-risk expectant mothers. Provincial child welfare standards will be updated to remove references to birth alerts and clearly state expectations for a stronger focus on building voluntary partnerships with parents to address their strengths and needs, which may include the creation of a safety plan, followed by referrals to existing community, cultural and health-care services as needed.
Manitoba’s decision to end birth alerts builds on the recommendations of the Child Welfare Legislative Review Committee. Indigenous leadership, including the Southern Chiefs Organization, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, have also called for an end to this practice.
March 26, 2020 – Government delays the cancellation of their Birth alert policy due to be implemented on April 1, 2020 citing COVID-19 as the rationale. See also Problems and Issues in Child Welfare on Home Page.
April 14, 2020 – Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs are seriously concerned about Manitoba fast tracking Bill 34, “The Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act“. If passed, the Bill will have serious implications on First Nations children in care. On March 19, 2020 the Manitoba government introduced Bill 34. The Bill is currently seeking to legalize Manitoba’s actions of recovering the Child Special Allowance since January 1, 2005, when they started taking the child tax credit away. In 2018, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the off -reserve children who had their CSA’s clawed back. A trial date is set for this September. But if Bill 34 passes by September the Manitoba government would not be held responsible for their actions and the lawsuit would be invalid.
“From 2005 to 2019, approximately $338 million dollars of the Child Special Allowance (CSA) funds meant for First Nations children in care were stolen by the provincial government. This is an illegal action. We have a government trying to justify their actions, wiping their hands clean from the claw backs of the CSA by protecting themselves from any legal recourse through Bill 34,” stated Chief Karen Batson of Pine Creek First Nation. ”This is a human rights violation and is another example of how the provincial government has neglected children in care in the past, present, and now future,” concluded Chief Batson. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO), the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) are particularly concerned by section 8, “which sets out to legally end the ability of current and former children in care to sue the Manitoba government for clawing back their monthly Children’s Special Allowance (CSA).
May 7, 2020 – Release of “Stop Giving Me a Number and Start Giving Me a Person: How 22 Girls Illuminate the Cracks in the Manitoba Youth Mental Health and Addiction System”, a Special Report by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth 2020. “Alarmingly, in Manitoba, suicide is the leading manner of death for young people ages 10-17”. Of the 22 girls who all committed suicide between 2013 and 2019, 20 were either First Nation of Métis. The Advocate’s report highlights some key findings of the Virgo Report of 2018 “Improving Access and Coordination of Mental Health and Addiction Services: A Provincial Strategy for all Manitobans”:
- how underfunded and underperforming the youth mental health system is here and they make key recommendations calling on the provincial government to address the gaping cracks in service delivery.
- Manitoba stands out as the highest or very high on almost all SUA/MH need indicators, including those related to health, social and justice-related factors. Indigenous youth are at the top of ALL the metrics
- jurisdictional issues between the federal and provincial governments are “a “fundamental challenge to be addressed going forward as it underlies significant issues related to access and coordination
As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (2019) noted, “mental health spending in Manitoba remains below the standard set by international and national research which says it should be 9 per cent of total health spending. In 2019/20 Manitoba budgeted…5% of the health budget” for mental health services (p. 9 )
When compared to its provincial and territorial counterparts, Manitoba has:
- 76% of First Nations children living in poverty, the highest rate among provinces;
- the highest number of children in care, 90% of who are Indigenous;
- the highest rate of youth incarceration, with 90% of those youth being Indigenous;
- the highest homicide rate, of which the majority of victims are also Indigenous; and
- the second highest rate of violence against women and girls in the north of all northern regions in Canada (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2016, Virgo Planning, 2018; Malone, 2019; Jones, 2019; Gibson, 2019).
“With these stark numbers, it is not a surprise that that the rate of suicide for adult First Nations Peoples in Manitoba is five times the rate for all other Manitobans”
June 23, 2020 – The Province of Manitoba has announced it will end the controversial practice of birth alerts on June 30, 2020 and will instead refer vulnerable mothers and their children to social services and programs. Under the new system, Stefanson said Manitoba Child and Family Services (CFS) agencies will now be able to refer more women to programs.
Feb. 2, 2017 – Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy:
- First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous communities and organizations have authority to care for their children and youth.
- First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous children and youth have access to preventive services focused on well-being, culture and opportunities.
- The child and youth service workforce is equipped to provide high quality, integrated and culturally appropriate services.
- Progress is tracked through culturally and contextually appropriate monitoring and evaluation approaches.
- Systemic change through collaborative action and transformed relationships with First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous partners.
June 1, 2017 – Bill 89: “Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2016“, received royal assent in the Ontario Legislature. Bill 89 introduces historic amendments to the Child and Family Services Act. The proposed bill would create the Child Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA), which will replace the CFSA and contain amendments that reflect many of OACAS and Children’s Aid Societies advocacy efforts: changing the age of protection, a legislative framework for information access and privacy, recognition of extra-provincial protection orders, personal liability coverage for board governors and supports for older youth. It broadly grants regulation-making authority to MCYS and contains multiple amendments in the following key areas:
- Protection and Prevention
- Quality Improvement
- Accountability and Oversight
- Support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit People
Sept. 7, 2017 – Agreement reaffirms a commitment to work together to improve outcomes and opportunities for Anishinaabe children and youth in Treaty 3 territory, through the co-implementation of the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy to transform the system of services for children and youth. Grand Council Treaty 3 is the traditional govt of the Anishinaabe Nation, comprising 26 communities in northwestern Ontario and two in southeastern Manitoba.
April 12, 2018 – Governments of Canada and Ontario and Chiefs of Ontario signed a Joint Commitment to Policy and Funding Reform for First Nations Child and Family Services in Ontario to improve outcomes and opportunities for all First Nations children, youth, and families and to reduce the number of children and youth in care. This recognizes, in particular, the need to shift focus to more comprehensive approaches that support better outcomes by focusing on an expanded range of prevention services.
As part of this work, Canada, Ontario, and First Nations are also completing an Ontario Special Study, which will provide options for new First Nations child and family well-being policy and funding approaches that are child-centered, community-directed, and support better outcomes by focusing on prevention. It is expected that the outcomes required from this joint commitment will be completed within 12-18 months.
Sept, 2018 – Release of “Promising Child Welfare Practices for Inuit Children, Youth and Families” with the following recommendations:
- Recognition and reflection of the uniqueness of the Inuit community
- Sustained Institutional leadership and commitment
- Partnership with Inuit service providers
- Cultural Competency
- Dedicated teams
- Direct experience of the North
- Hiring Inuit staff
- Clinical practice
- Admission prevention services
- Children and Youth in care
- Recruitment and support for foster and Adoptive parents
July 14, 2020 – Government of Ontario announced the end of the use of Birth Alerts which was a recommendation from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This new approach will improve pre- and post-natal services by promoting collaboration between children’s aid societies, hospitals, service providers, Indigenous partners and community-based service providers. It has been reported the practice of birth alerts disproportionately affects racialized and marginalized mothers and families. Expectant mothers can be deterred from seeking prenatal care or parenting supports while pregnant due to fears of having a birth alert issued.
Birth alerts have never been required under provincial legislation and have been used inconsistently by children’s aid societies across the province. Going forward, the government is directing children’s aid societies to end the practice of using birth alerts by October 15, 2020. This means working with families, community partners and service providers to create a pre- and post-natal plan that supports the parents of newborns, to ensure more families stay together.
July 29, 2020 – The Ontario government released its plan today to modernize the child welfare system. The strategy focuses on strengthening families and communities through prevention, early intervention and seeking more permanent homes for children and youth in care when they cannot stay in their own homes or communities. The strategy to redesign the child welfare system has five pillars that focus on:
- Strengthening family well-being through community-based prevention services that keep children safe in family-based settings;
- Improving the quality of residential care provided to children and youth;
- Promoting the development of stable and lifelong connections and supports for youth, with a focus on education and employment opportunities;
- Improving the adoption experience and focusing on family-based options over group care where appropriate; and
- Creating a more efficient and effective child welfare system that is financially sustainable.
Oct. 2016 – Bill 113 (“An Act to amend the Civil Code and other legislative provisions as regards adoption and the disclosure of information”) tabled in Quebec legislature. This is an initiative of the Québec government to have legal effects of customary adoptions clearly reflected in the Civil Code of Quebec.
June 16, 2017 – Bill 113 begins to harmonize provincial adoption legislation with Cree Aboriginal and treaty rights in relation to adoption matters and reflects the right of Indigenous Nations to govern affairs regarding their children
Under the Bill, effects of Inuit custom adoptions will be recognized by law, under a mechanism provided for the Quebec Civil code enabling the issuance of a unique birth certificate reflecting the new lineage resulting from traditional Inuit custom adoption.
Oct. 2, 2017 – Bill 89: Act to amend the Youth Protection Act and other provisions passed. The statute gives First Nation authorities more autonomy to meet the needs of vulnerable youth and children, while helping to preserve cultural identity.
Mar. 18, 2019 – The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse raised concerns about the lack of progress on the implementation of recommendations from their 2007 report on child and youth protection services in Nunavik, a follow-up report in 2010, in 2014 and again in 2016. In March 2018, the Commission presented these findings to the “Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec: listening, reconciliation and progress“. The Commission reiterates the urgency to act in order to create favourable conditions for these communities so they can finally ensure real protection for their rights through the implementation of concrete support measures, in particular by allocating sufficient resources to solve urgent problems related to housing, education, drug addiction and access to health and social services in the field of youth protection.
May 29, 2019 – Creation of a Special Parliamentary Committee on Youth Protection. The commission will have 18 months to do its work examining child protection services with a report and recommendations to be submitted to the government in November, 2020. The statistics show a critical and alarming situation. In addition to reviewing the functioning of the Direction de la protection de la jeunesse (youth protection directorate) and the role of the courts, this commission will allow us to highlight the inequalities experienced by First Nations children throughout Quebec. “The AFNQL demands the appointment of a First Nations co-chair to the Special Parliamentary Committee. In addition, we ask that issues specific to First Nations children be included in the commission’s mandate. Our children also deserve to grow up in dignity,” concluded AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.
Dec. 19, 2019 : CBC – Quebec Government has launched a legal challenge in Quebec Court of Appeal to assess the constitutionality of Bill C-92: An Act Respecting First Nations, Métis and Inuit Children, Youth and Families. Quebec Justice Minister Sonia LeBel stated that the parameters set for C-92 “exceeds the powers of the Parliament of Canada under the Canadian Constitution.” “The government of Quebec intends to defend its powers and its autonomy under the constitutional framework and wishes to maintain the full application of Quebec laws – including the Youth Protection Act – on its territory,” LeBel said in a statement.
The referral to the Court of Appeal, she says “will clarify the state of the law” as far as the “scope of federal jurisdiction.” Quebec believes that C-92 appropriates the “exclusive” jurisdiction of the provinces in matters of social services.
Some of the issues identified through various government commissions and reports indicate:
- In November, a report issued by the province’s auditor general found that Quebec’s youth protection system is “deeply flawed,” with over 289 cases brought to child welfare agencies every day – a 27 per cent jump since an initial survey completed in 2013.
- A child welfare inquiry, dubbed The Laurent Commission, began after a seven year old girl – a child known to the system – died under troubling circumstances in Granby earlier this year. Following a series of public consultations, stakeholders are expected to make a series of recommendations by November 2020.
- A collaborative report released in October, aptly titled One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, documented a cycle of child apprehension and placement in non-Indigenous foster homes.
Feb. 17, 2020 – The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) presented a joint brief to the Laurent Commission (Special Commission on the Rights of Children and Youth Protection) aimed in particular at reaffirming the rights of First Nations to decide on the future and education of their children. The two organizations made recommendations that affect Act C-92, Bill 31, which aims to authorize the communication of personal information concerning certain missing or deceased Aboriginal children to their families, and the Youth Protection Act (YPA). The AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC have reiterated their constitutional right to manage family support and youth protection services, according to Act C-92, and are asking the Government of Quebec to withdraw its dispute and negotiate coordination agreements in good faith with First Nations governments and Canada. With regard to the YPA, they are also calling for:
- Indigenous children to be exempted from the application of the maximum periods of foster care and
- that the regulation on financial assistance to promote the adoption and tutorship of a child be amended.
More generally, the two organizations recommend that Quebec implement measures that respond appropriately to the calls for justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the calls to action of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec.
May 28, 2020 – CISION – The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) are favourably welcoming several of the recommendations made by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) in the brief it tabled this morning in the context of the Laurent Commission. In its report, the CDPDJ recognizes that First Nations are in the best position to determine the futures of their children. Accordingly, the First Nations must be involved in making the decisions that concern them, and they must also be able to count on the full cooperation of both levels of government to ensure compliance with and the application of the principles of An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (C-92).
April 13, 2019 – Seven Mi’kmaq First Nations in New Brunswick have created a new child welfare agency aimed at preventing children from being taken away from their homes and families. Mi’kmaq NB Child and Family Services Inc. — made up of First Nations in Eel River Bar, Fort Folly, Indian Island, Buctouche, Pabineau, Metepenagiag and Eel Ground — has a five-year funding agreement with the federal government. It officially opened on Jan. 1. They’ve doubled their staff, hiring more social workers and prevention field workers, aimed at helping families in crisis situations before a child is taken away from the home. It has also hired aboriginal cultural staff to integrate traditional customs into the agency’s work.
Nov. 20, 2018 – The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released its 10th State of the Child Report. “According to this data, children and youth from our province face numerous challenges,” said Advocate Norman Bossé. “For example, the province has not done nearly enough to ensure the preservation of indigenous cultures. First Nations languages are imperilled to the point of crisis. I call upon the government to act immediately with First Nations leaders to preserve New Brunswick’s rich indigenous linguistic heritage.”
Feb. 15, 2019 – The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs (Assembly) have called upon the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada to bring forth the important discussions of the Indigenous Family and Unity Act, with the proposed changes that First Nations communities, across Canada, have collectively brought forward. The legislation, in its current form, does not recognize the inherent right to self-government which would allow First Nation communities to rightfully assume jurisdiction and governance over their own child welfare matters without the permission of Governments. The Assembly, alongside many other First Nations groups, want Canada to move forward and properly address this by working with our people in an equal and respectful manner. The Assembly has been working on child welfare matters since 2014 and launched a video today to show the Federal Government exactly what is being done in Nova Scotia. Video can be found at: https://youtu.be/NfJGh_HG8dk
Prince Edward Island
Mar. 1, 2019 – Currently on P.E.I., Marilyn Birch, director of the child and family services program with the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. said the province provides child protection services to all children who live on the Island, while the confederacy program provides prevention and early intervention services for children in families that live on-reserve.
Sept. 6, 2019 – In July, a draft of the Child and Youth Advocate Act was prepared with intent to establish the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate as independent from government and reporting to the PEI Legislative Assembly. One of the intents of the proposed legislation is “Recognize the importance of the preservation and promotion of cultural identity for Indigenous children and youth.
Newfoundland and Labrador
June 22, 2017 – Reviewing Children and Youth Care and Protection Act to develop a new approach to providing child welfare and youth services in Indigenous communities. It is vital that the communities are at the center of all planning. They must be heard in order to develop plans and solutions that make sense within their cultures and to address the historical roots of many of these issues. Jackie Lake Kavanagh, Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, Newfoundland and Labrador.
July 4, 27 – The Innu signed an MOU with the government to pursue an inquiry into the treatment, experiences and outcomes of Innu in the child protection system. The province and the Innu Leadership will seek to reach an agreement by July 31, 2017 on the Terms of Reference specifying the process and objectives of the inquiry.
April 18, 2018 – The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate is launching a comprehensive, independent Review of the treatment, experiences and outcomes of Inuit children and youth in the Newfoundland and Labrador child protection system. The Review will identify deficiencies, explore promising and best practices, and make recommendations for improved outcomes within an appropriate cultural context. The Nunatsiavut Government requested her office conduct the independent Review. Scope includes:
- Inquire into why the child protection system is not producing favourable outcomes for Inuit children;
- Review policies, case management practices, and administrative practices for delivering child protection services to Inuit children; this will include reviewing data relating to key decision points including referrals, investigations, plans, assessments, removals and placements;
- Complete research into other Reviews, Inquiries and research findings on child protection experiences in Indigenous communities, including deficiencies, best practices and recommendations;
- Engage Inuit communities including young people, elders, leaders, service providers, parents, extended families and foster parents to identify experiences with the child welfare system, and solicit ideas for change;
- Make recommendations for improved child protection outcomes for Inuit children and youth within an appropriate cultural context;
- Report back to communities on findings and recommendations at the conclusion of the Review.
This Review will be completed by March 31, 2019. A public report will be released
May 15, 2018 – New legislation to promote the safety and well-being of children and youth will begin second reading in the House of Assembly today. The new Children, Youth and Families Act will replace the Children and Youth Care and Protection Act. The new act builds on the principles of the previous act and is child and youth-centred, family-focused and culturally responsive. The proposed bill contains significant updates aimed at:
- Improving information sharing;
- Enhancing the focus on preserving the family unit;
- Expanding permanency options for children and youth in foster care;
- Strengthening service delivery to Indigenous children, youth and their families;
- Identifying and supporting youth in need of protection; and
- Developing a licensing regime for out of home placements.
The Children, Youth and Families Act will officially come into effect 12 months from Royal Assent to allow for the development of new policies, clinical practice procedures and regulations. This will also allow time to implement training for staff.
June 28, 2019 – New legislation that ensures the protection and care of children and youth comes into effect today (Friday, June 28). The new Children, Youth and Families Act which replaces the Children and Youth Care and Protection Act, is child and youth-centred, family-focused and culturally responsive.
Jan. 29, 2018 – Yukon’s Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost has promised a review of the Child and Family Services Act which in part lays out how the government can take children away from their parents and into government care, will start in the next three months.
April 9, 2018 – The Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) organized and led a delegation of Yukon-based child welfare professionals on a tour of six BC child welfare agencies run by local indigenous groups. The fact-finding mission supports Yukon First Nations’ interest in exploring options for child welfare services in the Yukon. Yukon does not have a First Nations-led child welfare agency.
Mar. 18, 2019 – Announcement that Terms of Reference are now in place for the Yukon Trilateral Table on the Wellbeing of Yukon First Nations Children and Families. Established in 2018, the Trilateral Table has provided the first real opportunity for all three parties to work together to improve child and family services for Yukon First Nations. The signing of Terms of Reference is a first step in the Trilateral Table’s work to facilitate information-sharing, and undertake collaborative decision-making on priorities, program implementation and resources. The vision of its members is for First Nations children to have equitable opportunities to grow up safely at home with their families. The Trilateral Table’s first priority will be the development of a work plan which will guide its work, including:
- collaborative actions;
- determining future direction and potential reforms;
- alignment of current initiatives;
- setting annual targets and indicators; and
- ensuring alignment with other priority work in Yukon.
Aug. 1, 2019 – Together, partners in Yukon are working toward reducing the number of First Nations children in care, increasing proactive support for children and their families, and supporting children to grow up with strong connections to their language and culture.
A systemic review of the child welfare system “Empty Spaces – Caring Connections” was recently conducted by the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office (YCAO). It uncovered a staggering statistic – that 79 per cent of the youth in care were Indigenous. As a result, the YCAO called on the territorial government to make changes. (APTN News) https://www.docdroid.net/d48O4G4/190509ycao-2019-sr-eng-06-fnl-may-08.pdf
Building Stronger Families: An Action Plan to Transform Child and Family Services”, tabled in the NWT legislature. The ‘Plan’ acknowledges the roles “Aboriginal Governments play in the delivery of programs and services and recognizes their future interests in drawing down the authorities associated with the delivery of child and family services. We are committed to be open, flexible and responsive in working with the diverse governance structures of regional Aboriginal Governments and understanding the unique interests and challenges of each region and community. Upon request, the Department will work in partnership with Aboriginal Governments, share information and knowledge, and help build capacity. The “Building Stronger Families Action Plan” encompasses twelve separate initiatives:
- Revised Accountability Framework
- Legislative Amendments
- Leadership and Communications
- Workload Management Study
- Annual Compliance Audits
- Manual Provision and Practice Tools
- Supervisor Training Program
- Risk Assessment and Differential Response
- Permanency Planning
- Information Management and System Replacement
- Inventory and Manual of Prevention Programs
Oct. 23, 2018 – A report from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada tabled today in the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly concludes that the Department of Health and Social Services and the Health and Social Services Authorities did not meet key responsibilities for the protection and well-being of children, youth, and their families. This is the second time since 2014 that the Auditor General has identified serious deficiencies in the delivery of child and family services in the Northwest Territories, and in the structures intended to support this delivery. “We determined that many of the services provided to children and families in the Northwest Territories that we examined were in fact worse than when we examined them in 2014”, said Mr. Glenn Wheeler, principal director on the audit.
The section below discusses responses relating to the last three points of Call to Action #1. Those points are:
- 3. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the history and impacts of residential schools.
- 4. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing.
- 5. Requiring that all child-welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers.
Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE-ACFTS)
CASWE-ACFTS has been responsible for reviewing and accrediting university-based programs of social work education within Canada since 1973 and graduates of these accredited programs become professional social work practitioners.
June 26, 2017 – At the May 27th, 2017 Board meeting, the Board of Directors of CASWE-ACFTS committed to ensuring that social work education in Canada contributes to transforming Canada’s colonial reality and approved a “Statement of Complicity and Commitment to Change”. “This is an important step in engaging social work education in the reconciliation process and supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action” affirms CASWE-ACFTS President, Dr. Susan Cadel
Statement of Complicity and Commitment to Change
- acknowledge that colonizing narratives, policies, and practices have been, and continue to be, embedded in social work education, research, and practice
- express deep regret for the harms experienced by Indigenous peoples and communities because of these colonizing narratives, policies, and practices
- commit, within our individual spheres of influence, to act in ways that lessen and eventually end such harms, thereby opening spaces to offer genuine apologies
- accept the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework to guide reconciliation efforts
- reaffirm the importance of our collaborative relationship with Thunderbird Circle and develop initiatives to commemorate the strength, resiliency, and contribution of all Indigenous social work educators and students
- will ensure a territorial acknowledgement is posted on the CASWE-ACFTS web site
- will encourage institutional members to post a territorial acknowledgement on their School’s website and post a link to the CAUT guide to territorial acknowledgement on the CASWE-ACFTS website to assist Schools with this task
- will encourage and support Canadian schools of social work in revising mission statements, governance processes, curriculum, and pedagogy in ways that both advance the TRC recommendations and the overall indigenization of social work education
- will post, on the Association website, a list of resources to assist Schools in the above efforts
- will periodically review the vision, mission, principles and activities of our Association to ensure we are advancing reconciliation
- will seek to advance Article 14 (1) of UNDRIP through Memorandums of Understanding with relevant Indigenous institutions and programs
- will ensure the planned revision of our educational policies and standards (EPAS2019)
- incorporates current and comprehensive knowledge regarding the de-colonialization and indigenization of social work education including, but not necessarily limited to, the Calls to Action from the TRC, especially those related to child welfare, education, and health
- recognizes the distinct nature of Indigenous social work and avoids positioning such social work within the context of multi-cultural or cross-cultural theory and practice.
Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW)
Commitments to Reconciliation
Founded in 1926 to monitor employment conditions and to establish standards of practice within the profession, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) has evolved into a national voice. The CASW Federation is comprised of 9 provincial and territorial partner organizations.
Aug. 5, 2015 – CASW pledges support to Aboriginal communities and organizations in implementing all recommendations. The profession of social work recognizes the very specific role and responsibility it has in supporting the implementation of the TRC recommendations with emphasis on those specific to Child Welfare. To this end, CASW calls on the current Government of Canada to immediately uphold Jordan’s Principle and end its active resistance against the equitable funding of child welfare services for Aboriginal children. Furthermore, CASW urges the federal government to immediately heed the call for a public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada. Finally, CASW calls on all federal political parties to make reconciliation central to the mandate of the next Government of Canada by providing a comprehensive response to the TRC Calls to Action in their respective platforms.
Nov 21. 2017 – The CASW Board made the decision to emphasize Reconciliation as a priority with the intention of developing an action plan to pursue reconciliation and promote understanding. The first meeting of the Board on this topic alone took place November 21, 2017, with many possible avenues to explore.
Mar. 1, 2018 – In recognition of the complex relationship between Indigenous people and communities and the land we now call Canada, the three pillars of the profession have chosen the theme Bringing Change to Life to open space for the social work profession to reflect and act on reconciliation.
Affirmation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and deep regret for the profession’s role in inflicting harm on Indigenous people and communities through colonizing narratives, policies, and practices, are just the beginning. Action is required to transform our colonial reality for a better future.
The three pillars of the profession commit to Bringing Change to Life within the social work profession by:
- continuing to provide ethical, responsible, and high quality service to the public;
- supporting Schools of Social Work in Canada in making reconciliation a priority in shaping the next generation of Canadian social workers;
- and by bringing humility and accountability to social justice efforts.
The three pillars further commit to amplify and lift up Indigenous voices and causes and to ensure that social workers have access to education and information to help advance reconciliation and decolonization in their own practice.
Dec. 19, 2019 – CASW Statement of Apology and Commitment to Reconciliation” – The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) acknowledges its role in supporting the implementation of residential schools and affirming the approach to child welfare that led to the 60s scoop through the promotion of discriminatory policies with the underlying motivation to dispossess Indigenous peoples from their land.
CASW deeply apologizes for contributing to the injustices imposed on Indigenous peoples and, in this statement, seeks to highlight some of the ways in which CASW was – and in many ways still is – responsible for the systemic denial and inequality that has been apparent in the field of social work. CASW hopes that by publicly acknowledging, with humility, past and ongoing wrongdoings will begin an honest and transparent dialogue as we continue on the path of reconciliation.
According to the TRC, “the importance of truth telling in its own right should not be underestimated; it restores the human dignity of victims of violence and calls governments and citizens to account” (p. 117). This is CASW’s truth. In taking this step, we aim to focus inward and explore how the Association has reinforced the colonial project—we aspire to engage in critical reflection by revealing some of the historical content and examining how CASW fed into a racist ideology that presented Indigenous peoples as less than. In many ways, CASW has benefitted from the harmful actions directed towards Indigenous peoples and we know that it is only through acknowledging and accepting responsibility that we have any hope of reconciling our past—we must not forget our beginnings.
Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019
The Government of Canada has made historic investments to better support the well-being of children and families on reserve, improve the quality of education for First Nations children and urgently address housing needs on reserve. These investments include Budget 2016 funding of $635 million over 5 years and ongoing, as a first step in addressing funding gaps in First Nations Child and Family Services and provide greater support for culturally appropriate prevention services and front-line service delivery. Budget 2018 announced additional funding of $1.4 billion over 6 years, starting in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, for the First Nations Child and Family Services Program to address the funding pressures facing child and family service agencies, while increasing prevention resources so that children are safe and families can stay together. To support the safety and well-being of First Nations children and families living on reserve, Indigenous Services Canada is focused on fully implementing the orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, including reimbursement of funding to First Nations child and family services agencies based on actual costs for prevention, intake and investigation, legal fees, building repairs and small agencies in the best interest of the child, as well as reforming the First Nations Child and Family Services Program. These solutions, however, are multi-faceted and will require collaboration with First Nations partners, the provinces and territories to ensure that the well-being of children comes first.
The Government of Canada will continue to collaborate with First Nations, Inuit and Métis, as well as other partners, to advance the reforms to child and family services that are needed and develop Indigenous-led solutions that put the well-being of children first. For example: $1 million in funding was provided to the Métis National Council to support their work on engagement and consultation to advance culturally appropriate reform.
The government is also engaged in over 80 Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussions tables through which Canada and Indigenous groups explore new ideas and ways to reach agreements that will recognize the rights of Indigenous groups and advance their vision of self-determination for the benefit of their communities and all Canadians. In many of the existing discussions Indigenous groups have identified child and family services as an important subject for discussion.