Call to Action # 2

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, to prepare and publish annual reports on the number of Aboriginal children (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) who are in care, compared with non-Aboriginal children, as well as the reasons for apprehension, the total spending on preventive and care services by child-welfare agencies, and the effectiveness of various interventions. 

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusNov. 9, 2020STALLED
Previous StatusAug. 17, 2020STALLED

Why “STALLED”?

Jan. 31, 2020 – No action in almost two years. Government announced “Developing a data and reporting strategy with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners” as part of the six-point action plan at an Emergency Chid Welfare meeting held on Jan. 25 – 26, 2018 scheduled by the Minister of Indigenous Services. The commitment was re-affirmed on Government update of April, 8, 2019. Still no details on timelines, targets, process etc.

Also, the response focuses on First Nations and to a lesser degree the Métis and does not address the specific needs of the Inuit.

Data, Measurement, and Information Sharing Panel

A report on children and families together: An Emergency Meeting on Indigenous child and family services. Jan. 25 – 26, 2018

Relevant Government of Canada Commitment to Action:

6. Create a data strategy with provinces/territories and Indigenous partners to increase inter-jurisdictional data collection, sharing and reporting to better understand the rates and reasons for apprehension.

Discussion

Discussion about the role data collection can play in overcoming existing gaps in knowledge took place. One area of inquiry could be to examine whether shifting income supports currently provided to foster care families to those families in need could lead to prevention. Participants also highlighted the need to support community-based research that is strengths-based, sharing learning structures and research methodologies that have successfully advanced the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families involved with child and family services. Data collected must be disaggregated by First Nations, Inuit and Métis and by gender, sexual orientation and disability in order to lead to effective service provision.

Participants identified the need for all collaborative research efforts to adhere to the OCAP Principles (Ownership, Control, Access and Partnership). This is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in particular, the right to self- determination, including self-government (articles 3 and 4) and the right to free, prior and informed consent prior to state adoption of legislative or administrative measures that affect Indigenous peoples (article 19).

It was suggested that all governments work with the Métis to develop data standards and information–sharing agreements and, to ensure all child and family services identify Métis children as Métis and not as “other” in intake and reporting forms. For Inuit, a national Inuit health survey to be conducted on a consistent basis, would serve to inform advances in Inuit health in general and in relation to child welfare services in particular.

There are challenges in collecting in a way that creates comparable data for advocacy, service delivery and measuring success across the regions. However, these challenges can be overcome through well-defined collaborations, where roles and responsibilities are clearly set out.

Emergency Child Welfare Meeting Recommendations

Global recommendation

It is recommended that all representatives who participated in the Emergency Meeting work towards the following goals:

  1. Collaborate on a national child welfare data strategy, led by the federal government in partnership with provincial, territorial and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation partners aimed at increasing inter-jurisdictional data collection, sharing and reporting to better understand the rates and reasons for apprehension.

    This national strategy must be community-based, strengths-based research driven by First Nations, Inuit and the Métis, consistent with the OCAP Principles and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Data collected must be disaggregated by First Nations, Métis and Inuit and by gender, sexual orientation and disability in order to lead to effective service provision.
  2. Collaborate on data standards, reporting mechanisms and information-sharing agreements to ensure they are reflective of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, families and communities.
  3. Share best research practices that demonstrate improved outcomes for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families, directly linked to community involvement, control in service governance design and delivery, and culturally relevant programming.

Conclusion

The rich dialogues that occurred over the two-day Emergency Meeting on Indigenous Child and Family Services: Children and Families Together focused on the strong commitment to change the current crisis facing Indigenous child and family services in Canada, where too often First Nations, Inuit and Métis children are put in harm’s way, denied the support, love and protection they need and deserve.

This report is meant to capture the concrete reforms identified by the Government of Canada, along with provincial, territorial, First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders, Elders, youth, community service organizations and advocates that will urgently address the child welfare crisis in Canada. It is hoped that the outcomes identified in this meeting with be achieved and fully implemented so that every Indigenous child in Canada lives a safe, healthy, happy life, free to experience their cultures, languages and ways of life in their own homes and communities.

As of fall 2018, the Government of Canada is working with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners to develop a data and reporting strategy that will help provide a more complex picture of the outcomes of children in care and the challenges experienced by Indigenous children and family, to inform future service delivery improvements.

Official Response from the Federal Government: Sept. 5, 2019

Indigenous Services Canada hosted an emergency meeting on child and family services in January 2018 to discuss how to work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to transform Indigenous child welfare so that it is truly child-centered, community-directed and focused on prevention and the rights of the child. This meeting brought together federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to discuss reform as well as how to collectively monitor and report on our efforts as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. This meeting was an opportunity, among other things, to take stock on the current situation and identify key next steps. Key topics of discussion included the collection and publication of data, establishing measurable goals and information sharing on Indigenous children in care in Canada.

As of fall 2018, the Government of Canada is working with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners to develop a data and reporting strategy that will help provide a more complex picture of the outcomes of children in care and the challenges experienced by Indigenous children and family, to inform future service delivery improvements.

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