(Toronto, February 28, 2019) Today, Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan unveiled the long awaited proposed Bill C-92 in the House of Commons; this legislation, which was one of the first Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will acknowledge First Nations’ jurisdiction over Indigenous children and families across Canada – ensuring Indigenous peoples can provide culturally-appropriate care for their children and have full control over child and family services within their communities.
“With this legislation, we will be able to depart from the current system and move into a more culturally appropriate, Indigenous-led system, allowing us to assert full control over child and family services.” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald. “The child welfare crisis is a top priority for our communities and this federal legislation is very important. Through first examination, we see positive aspects of this legislation, however there are aspects that need serious work.”
“Upon reviewing this legislation, there is no binding funding obligation. Nothing guarantees that the funding for our children will be needs-based and equitable, rather than discriminatory,” said Regional Chief Archibald. “If there is no funding tied to the legislation, then we risk not being able to exercise our jurisdiction, resulting in a missed opportunity. Generations of our children have grown up under discriminatory federal funding as shown by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. We need the funding obligation in order to ensure that First Nations children and families within Ontario receive the services they need to thrive.”
“Our focus has to be on what’s best for First Nations and our children and youth and we must ensure that our children and youth are connected to their languages and cultures. The way forward is with community driven solutions and funding within the legislation to do so,” said Regional Chief Archibald. “The bill introduced today in Parliament improves on the draft we last saw. It is much closer to respecting our jurisdiction over children and families, and provides a route to exercise that jurisdiction yet still create space for coordination with our provincial and federal partners.”
“So there’s work to be done here. But we want to get that work done, get the amendments the legislation needs, and move forward. Our communities are ready for change and we are encouraged that the government is listening to the need for Indigenous child welfare laws to be made by Indigenous peoples, for Indigenous peoples. We are ready to work collaboratively and we hope the federal government is ready to work with us.”
Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario.
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