Manitoba CFS changes ignore First Nations demands for jurisdiction, say chiefs - APTN NewsAPTN News

Manitoba CFS changes ignore First Nations demands for jurisdiction, say chiefs

Manitoba Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced block funding for CFS on Feb. 11.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated an AMC spokesperson said the organization wants to see the Manitoba-specific legislation tabled after the broader federal bill is introduced. It was in fact a Dec. 2018 AFN resolution that stated this.

Justin Brake
APTN News
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.

On Wednesday the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) issued a statement criticizing Monday’s announcement by the province that it will move to block funding for child welfare in April of this year.

“Provincially-designed and imposed decisions continually miss the mark in reforming what’s known as the Manitoba humanitarian crisis of child welfare,” said Acting AMC Grand Chief Glenn Hudson of Peguis First Nation.

On Monday Manitoba Families Minister Heather Stefanson said block funding for Child and Family Services (CFS) will fund the province’s four CFS authorities up front “to improve outcomes for children and families, not by the size of their caseloads or the length of a child’s stay in care.”

The province, which has the highest rates among provinces and territories of Indigenous children in state care, had come under fire for operating a child welfare system in which agencies were funded based on the number of cases.

Under that model, First Nation leaders and other critics have argued, agencies are incentivized to have children in care while also lacking resources to support families and prevent child apprehension.

Manitoba was also criticized for forcing CFS agencies to turn over federal funding they received through the Children’s Special Allowance. The province previously argued those federal funds were a duplication of its existing investments into CFS.

That practice will end with the block funding, Stefanson said Monday.

“We want to give agencies the freedom to devote more money to prevention, early intervention, community and kinship involvement, and other positive supports,” the minister said, adding “the new model helps reduce their administrative burdens and improves autonomy and accountability.”

But, potentially days away from the Trudeau government’s promised child welfare legislation, Manitoba chiefs aren’t pleased with the province’s move.

“The province of Manitoba continues to ignore the longstanding position and resolutions of the AMC Chiefs-in-Assembly that seeks to reassert First Nations’ jurisdiction and approach to our children and families,” Hudson said in Wednesday’s statement, adding the province did not consult with First Nation leadership on the decision.

The AMC has been fighting 30 years for First Nations jurisdiction over their own child and family matters.

Presently, more than 11,000 children in Manitoba are in care. Ninety per cent are Indigenous.

It’s 2014 “Bringing Our Children Home” report recommended, among other things, transitioning to a First Nations CFS system and a model of care focused on prevention.

A subsequent 2017 report titled “Keewaywin: Our Way Home” determined that Manitoba’s CFS system “is simply an extension of cultural genocide practices found in the residential school system and 60s Scoop.”

It put forth a First Nations-led plan for CFS reforms and options for implementing Jordan’s Principle.

Keewaywin’s first recommendation was to “restore First Nation jurisdiction of children.”

“First Nations never conceded jurisdiction of our children,” the report reads. “This was taken from us through years of purposeful, adversarial and invasive government Indigenous child welfare policies.

“First Nations must lead child-welfare reform with reform options informed, mandated, designed and implemented by First Nations and First Nation leadership and citizens.”

In December 2017 AMC signed a memorandum of understanding with Canada to address the province’s child welfare crisis.

Former Indigenous Services minister Jane Philpott said the MOU was “an important step forward,” and that the parties were “focusing on improvements that First Nations in Manitoba want to see in the child welfare system.”

AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said at the time that “grassroots citizens insist we take back jurisdiction of our children and enhance First Nation capacity in all areas to address the Child and Family Services crisis in Manitoba.”

 

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Canada signed an MOU on child welfare in December 2017. AMC photo.

Last year talks began between the AMC and federal government for First Nations in Manitoba to have their own federal child welfare legislation.

The AMC consulted with community members, its women’s council, and then began drafting its vision for federal legislation it hopes Canada will table in the House of Commons.

The Bringing Our Children Home Act was taken to ceremony and feast, and later reviewed by the AMC Women’s and Elder’s Councils.

It was officially adopted in an AMC resolution last October.

In December it was supported by the AFN at its special chiefs assembly in Ottawa.

Last week AFN Regional Chief Kevin Hart told APTN News that Manitoba is among the provinces said to be resisting the Trudeau government’s impending child welfare bill.

A number of sources have also come forward to say the latest draft bill doesn’t include the transfer of full jurisdiction over child welfare from the provinces to First Nations, which some leaders have said they were told was “doable” by Philpott.

Current Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan, and Trudeau himself, have indicated the feds are considering First Nations’ concerns and working to table the legislation soon.

With only 12 weeks remaining on Parliament’s sitting schedule before the fall election, there’s already a significant chance any newly tabled legislation won’t make it through the legislative process in time.

A resolution passed at December’s AFN assembly in Ottawa calls for Canada and Manitoba First Nations to “jointly draft a mutually agreeable draft Bill” of the Bringing Our Children Home Act “for Canada to introduce in the House of Commons in the very near future, after the federal enabling legislation has been passed.”

Last September, the Manitoba government produced its own review of the CFS system.

A report for the province’s Legislative Review Committee concluded that those who participated in consultations and information gathering processes “generally agreed that the existing CFS legislation, standards and regulations need to be fundamentally reformed, to develop a system that better supports and provides greater control and influence to families and communities.”

A spokesperson for Manitoba Families told APTN Wednesday that the funding changes announced this week “build on Manitoba’s commitment to reform the child welfare system as outlined in the [report].”

The report does not discuss Treaty Rights, nor does it recommend returning to First Nations jurisdiction over their children.

It’s against this backdrop the AMC says Manitoba’s funding model change fails to account for what First Nations themselves say their children and families need.

First Nation leadership “is working on reviving our inherent laws on families,” Swan Lake First Nation Chief Francine Meeches, who chairs the AMC Women’s Council, said Wednesday’s AMC statement.

“Sadly, with the Province of Manitoba’s announcement, they continue to ignore us.”

The AMC maintains that “the funding dollars for children in care should go straight to the First Nations so they may apply their own First Nations family laws to help keep our children with our families and within our Nations,” said Hudson.

jbrake@aptn.ca
@justinbrakenews

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4 Responses to “Manitoba CFS changes ignore First Nations demands for jurisdiction, say chiefs”

  1. g***********@gmail.com'
    Glen M Moat February 19, 2019 at 8:33 pm #

    Let put the Manitoba government’s children inthebhands of cfs and see how they feel about that.
    Thenchilden is our children and we will not allow our children be put in foster care where our children endured physical and sexual abuse
    Manitoba government, you better return our children to their birth parents or else face the consequences
    Theanitoba government and cfs are racist and abusers and murderers of our children and that includes all foster homes
    I say to all Anishinaabe, go and take your children back and fuck the government and cfs policies and new regulations
    Just return our children
    Fucking asssholes or we the Anishinaabe will apprehend your children and put them in foster homes
    Karma is real Manitoba government and cfs and she is coming for you and your children
    Want to play hardball, go ahead, we the Anishinaabe don’t play, we want our children returned, like, yesterday
    Time for a protest
    Time for WAR
    Time to save our children for the white bastard demons
    Fuckers

    I am Zaghgidiwin
    Sakehewawin
    My Mother and My Father, IS the Creator
    Both are very forgiving
    But as for me
    I am not as forgiving
    I am the judge
    I am the jury
    I am the executioner
    I am waiting for all white peoples to enter the Spirit Realm
    There you all white fuckers will know the true meaning of pain and suffering
    You, your children, your relatives, your friends, ancestors and your descendants
    That I promise you

    I am Here
    Zaghgidiwin Sakehewawin

  2. j************@gmail.com'
    Joyce February 19, 2019 at 8:33 pm #

    All Nations should push for the Devolution of CFS.
    We beed our children and families to be supported by out own people and our owns laws to apply to our own federal legislation for eavh nation concerning children and families. We did not give ownership of our chilren to the White System period.
    Funding shoulf be transferred to each nation. The govt was ordeted by the Suoreme Court to transfer our own $(13+Trillion) to each nation. Govt has yet to do so because the govt would be broke. Our money held in trust by the govt would break the govt that is why the govt now cant do this. Yet they hokd our children hostage by comitting cultural genocide to this day. The govt hires 20+ white aboriginal Ministers who mismanage the $ for our people and CFS steals the money meant for Children in Foster care. Goes to white people fostering aboriginal kids

  3. joycegray1014@gmail.com'
    Joyce February 15, 2019 at 4:15 am #

    All Nations should push for the Devolution of CFS.
    We beed our children and families to be supported by out own people and our owns laws to apply to our own federal legislation for eavh nation concerning children and families. We did not give ownership of our chilren to the White System period.
    Funding shoulf be transferred to each nation. The govt was ordeted by the Suoreme Court to transfer our own $(13+Trillion) to each nation. Govt has yet to do so because the govt would be broke. Our money held in trust by the govt would break the govt that is why the govt now cant do this. Yet they hokd our children hostage by comitting cultural genocide to this day. The govt hires 20+ white aboriginal Ministers who mismanage the $ for our people and CFS steals the money meant for Children in Foster care. Goes to white people fostering aboriginal kids

  4. glenmoar.999@gmail.com'
    Glen M Moat February 15, 2019 at 4:01 am #

    Let put the Manitoba government’s children inthebhands of cfs and see how they feel about that.
    Thenchilden is our children and we will not allow our children be put in foster care where our children endured physical and sexual abuse
    Manitoba government, you better return our children to their birth parents or else face the consequences
    Theanitoba government and cfs are racist and abusers and murderers of our children and that includes all foster homes
    I say to all Anishinaabe, go and take your children back and fuck the government and cfs policies and new regulations
    Just return our children
    Fucking asssholes or we the Anishinaabe will apprehend your children and put them in foster homes
    Karma is real Manitoba government and cfs and she is coming for you and your children
    Want to play hardball, go ahead, we the Anishinaabe don’t play, we want our children returned, like, yesterday
    Time for a protest
    Time for WAR
    Time to save our children for the white bastard demons
    Fuckers

    I am Zaghgidiwin
    Sakehewawin
    My Mother and My Father, IS the Creator
    Both are very forgiving
    But as for me
    I am not as forgiving
    I am the judge
    I am the jury
    I am the executioner
    I am waiting for all white peoples to enter the Spirit Realm
    There you all white fuckers will know the true meaning of pain and suffering
    You, your children, your relatives, your friends, ancestors and your descendants
    That I promise you

    I am Here
    Zaghgidiwin Sakehewawin