Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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February 28, 2019

NAN RESPONDS TO FEDERAL CHILD WELFARE LEGISLATION

THUNDER BAY, ON(February 28, 2019): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler has issued the following response to the introduction of much-anticipated federal legislation on Indigenous child welfare today:

“We acknowledge the commitment of the Government of Canada to begin to address the inadequacies of Indigenous child welfare and fulfill its commitment to introduce legislation. There are positive aspects to Bill C-92, but it fails to fully recognize the role our families and communities have in caring for and protecting our children. The bill fails to affirm exclusive First Nation jurisdiction over our children and implies that non-Indigenous governments can determine outcomes for Indigenous children. This legislation does recognize the need for children in care to maintain strong connections to their communities, but ultimately it continues to enforce a status quo system that can override First Nation jurisdiction. We look forward to addressing our concerns with the Minister and are hopeful that the necessary amendments will be made.”

Bill C-92: An Act Respecting First Nation, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families, fails to recognize First Nations’ exclusive jurisdiction over their children, wherever they reside, and includes override powers by Canada and the provinces.

NAN opposes the federal government’s application of the principles of the “Best Interests of the Child”, which may be used to circumscribe First Nation inherent and exclusive jurisdiction. In the event that the government and First Nations have opposing views on what is in the “best interests” of First Nation children, the legislation does not clarify which will take precedence.

NAN is also concerned the legislation only recognizes the “ongoing call” for funding that is “predictable, stable, sustainable, needs-based and consistent with the principles of substantive equality”, when what is needed is a guarantee of adequate, sustainable and predictable funding.

For more information please contact:  Tamara Piche, Communications Office – Phone: (807) 625-4906 or (807) 621-5549 (mobile) or Email: tpiche@nan.on.ca

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