This is the fifth panel in the MacEachen Institute’s 2019 Policy Matters Speaker Series. Recorded on Oct 8, 2019.
Events in the last four years have brought significant attention to the issue of Indigenous child welfare. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) stated that “Canada’s child-welfare system has simply continued the assimilation that the residential school system started,” and its Calls to Action aimed to fix this broken system. In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found that the federal government has been knowingly discriminating against First Nations children by underfunding the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program. Since that time, Canada has been the subject of seven non-compliance orders, including failing to fully implement Jordan’s Principle.
In 2018, the Liberals committed to addressing the CHRT’s orders. Finally, in June 2019, Parliament gave royal assent to Bill C-92, to recognize Indigenous People’s jurisdiction over child and family services, as part of an inherent and Aboriginal right to self-governance; to establish national standards in this area, and to contribute to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The bill has received mixed reactions from Indigenous communities.
In this panel discussion, three experts in child welfare legislation discuss these events and what can still be done.