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Our Children Our Responsibility. Anishinabek Nation Child Welfare Law Initiative. Collaborative Self-Government Conference January 19, 2012. THE ANISHINABEK NATION TODAY. Comprised of thirty nine (39) First Nations Represents approximately 56,000 Anishinaabe people

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Our Children Our Responsibility

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Our ChildrenOur Responsibility

Anishinabek Nation

Child Welfare Law Initiative

Collaborative Self-Government Conference

January 19, 2012

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  • Comprised of thirty nine (39) First Nations

  • Represents approximately 56,000 Anishinaabe people

  • Four regions: Northern-Superior; Lake Huron; Southeast; and Southwest

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Current sectoral negotiation tables include:

  • Education Agreement;

  • Governance Final Agreement;

    Other areas of jurisdiction Anishinabek Nation

    is creating laws in:

  • Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe, Child Welfare Law, Citizenship Law, Matrimonial Real Property Law

    Future plans also include, but are not limited to: Health, all Social Service programs, Lands and Resources.

    Visit: www.anishinabek.ca for more info.

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  • 3X more First Nation’s children in care than were in residential schools at the height of their operation (FNCFCS)

  • Since 1996, there has been a 65% increase of First Nation children- in- care


  • First Nation Child Welfare Laws protect First Nation Children

  • We are taking back our responsibility to look after our own Anishinabe children!

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  • Anishinabek Nation/Union of Ontario Indians met with Attorney General Chris Bentley to discuss the Anishinabek Nation’s intentions to move forward with the development of a AN Child Welfare Law (March 2010)

  • Anishinabek Nation met with Minister Laurel Broten in July 2010 at AN headquarters and reiterated our commitment to drafting the Anishinabek Nation Child Welfare Law

  • Anishinabek Nation met with MAA/MCYS senior officials to discuss our law development process

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  • 8 Community consultations held in 2009 with Anishinabek Nation citizens both on-reserve and off-reserve;

  • A strategic planning session was held April 2010 on the development and implementation of the Anishinabek Nation Child Welfare Law;

  • June 2011, Draft Anishinabek Nation Child Welfare Law presented to Chiefs- in-Assembly

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First Nation CW Service Providers

  • Child welfare agencies with protection mandate:

    • Dilico Anishinabek Family Care

    • Payukotayno James & Hudson Bay Family Services

    • AnishinaabeAbinoojii Family Services

    • Tikinagan Child & Family Services

    • Weechi-it-te-win Family Services

    • Native Child and Family Services of Toronto

    • MCA’s Akwesasne Child & Family Services (ACFS)

      (effective Sept.6, 2011)

  • Child welfare related agencies (similar to a Children’s Aid Society without the authority to apprehend children):

    • Six Nations of the Grand River Child & Family Services

    • Kina Gbezhgomi Child & Family Services

    • Kunuwanimano Child & Family Services

    • Nog-Da-Win-Da-Min Family & Community

    • Mnaasged Child & Family Services

    • Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child & Family Services

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What We Need

  • A child welfare system that is understanding and responsive to the realities and needs of Anishinabek children and families in accordance with the First Nation’s customs and traditional child rearing practices;

  • For Anishinabek children and families to have the same level of services no matter where they reside and to have access to culturally appropriate services preferably delivered by qualified first nation’s staff;

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What we need:

  • Equal and comparable funding levels for First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies as their non-First Nation agency counterparts;

  • Re-instatement of Band Representative funding with adjustments based on actual costs currently paid by some First Nations. The Band Representative function must be resourced to ensure First Nation’s equitable access to justice for First Nation’s children and families;

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Protecting the Spirit of the Child

The Anishinabek Nation is moving forward with Child Welfare Law Development to provide culturally relevant Child Welfare Laws that are consistent with our Language, Culture and Community Practices

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Anishinabek Nation Child Welfare Law

  • Source of Authority:

    • First Nation Inherent Jurisdiction

    • Part X of the Ontario Child and Family Services Act

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Case Law

1997: Delgamuuk (SCC):

Since the purpose of s. 35(1) is to reconcile the prior presence of aboriginal peoples in North America with the assertion of Crown sovereignty, it is clear from this statement that s. 35(1) must recognize and affirm both aspects of that prior presence – first, the occupation of land, and second, the prior social organization and distinctive cultures of aboriginal peoples on that land.

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Case Law:

1990: R. v. Siou (SCC)

Chief Justice Lamer stated that:

The British Crown recognized that the Indians had certain ownership rights over their land, it sought to establish trade with them which would rise above the level of exploitation and give them a fair return. It also allowed them autonomy in their internal affairs, intervening in this area as little as possible.

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Case Law

1993: Casimel v. ICBC (BC)

The Court did not call customary adoption an “inherent right” but did rule that: “There is nothing in the Adoption Act or the Indian Act which regulates or qualifies the right of Aboriginal people to continue their custom of adoption in accordance with the customs, traditions and practices which form an integral part of their culture.”.

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Case Law

2000: Campbell v. British Columbia (BCSC)

This judgment held that there is “constitutional space” in Canada for First Nation inherent rights. However, the Court once again chose to define inherent rights through the perspective of self-government, that is, something less than sovereignty, and something more than the constitutional rights afforded to non-Aboriginal Canadians.

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Children hold a special place in Aboriginal cultures. According to tradition, they are gifts from the spirit world and have to be treated very gently lest they become disillusioned with this world and return to a more congenial place. They must be protected from harm because there are spirits that would wish to entice them back to that other realm. They bring a purity of vision to the world that can teach their elders. They carry within them the gifts that manifest themselves, as they become teachers, mothers, hunters, councillors, artisans and visionaries. They renew the strength of the family, clan and village and make the elders young again with their joyful presence.

Anishinabek Traditional Teaching

Failure to care for these gifts bestowed on the family, and to protect children from the betrayal of others, is perhaps the greatest shame that can befall an Aboriginal family. It is a shame that countless Aboriginal families have experienced some of them repeatedly, over generations. RCAP, Vol. 3, p.23

The Special Place of Anishinabek Children

Anishinabek Nation

First Nation Community

Extended Family

Biological Family


*adapted from Weechi-it-te-win presentation at the Kinoondida’gamig Conference

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Mainstream Practice

  • Mainstream practice:

  • safety of child is the paramount test

  • family preservation takes a secondary role

  • narrow focus within context of the child and the immediate family setting

Anishinabek Nation

First Nation Community

Extended Family

Biological Family


*adapted from Weechi-it-te-win presentation at the Kinoondida’gamig Conference

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Mainstream Practice

Mainstream Practice

Removes child from the layers of the protection network of family, community and cultural practises.

Anishinabek Nation

First Nation Community

Extended Family


Biological Family



*adapted from Weechi-it-te-win presentation at the Kinoondida’gamig Conference

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Anishinabek Child Welfare Law

Anishinabek Nation

First Nation Community

Extended Family

Biological Family


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Anishinabek Child Welfare Law

Content of the Anishinabek Law:

  • Rights of Children

  • Rights of Families/Parents/Grandparents

  • Voluntary access to services

  • Child protection services

  • Confidentiality and access to information and records

  • Licensing prevention and protection agencies

  • Community Customary Care

  • Band Representative function

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What We Are Doing Now

  • We implemented a communications strategy to keep Anishinabek Nation citizens informed using various multi-media and in-person presentations (print, video, Facebook, You Tube, www.anishinabek.ca, workshops, community consultations, etc.)

  • We are engaging communities to provide additional input on the Draft AN Child Welfare Law

  • We are working to establish a Child Welfare Working Group to develop culturally appropriate tools, policies and regulations

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Some Next Steps

  • Present the Draft Anishinabek Nation Child Welfare Law to the Chiefs-in-Assembly for agreement in principle via Grand Council Resolution

  • Present the Draft AN Child Welfare Law to First Nations for approval via Band Council Resolution

  • Proceed with Implementation stage and recognition of our parallel law or the imbedding of our law in Part X of CFSA (initial indications expressed by some First Nation Chiefs indicates a directive to pursue a parallel law process)

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So What Do We Do Next?

Revised January 23, 2012

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