Indigenous Success Stories: First Nations

March 11, 2022

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations sign Child Welfare Coordination Agreement

NetNewsLedger – In an historic first in Ontario, Chief Waylon Scott, Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Federal Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario Minister of ChildrenCommunity and Social Services and the Honourable Greg Rickford, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs signed a trilateral coordination agreement for child and family services. The signing was celebrated today at a ceremony in Wabaseemoong’s community.

Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs says, “Wabaseemoong Independent Nations have charted their own path when it comes to child and family services, especially through the development and implementation of the Wabaseemoong Customary Care Code. Today’s landmark agreement is a testament to the community’s commitment to Wabaseemoong children and families.”

This coordination agreement supports Wabaseemoong Independent Nations’ Customary Care Code which has had force of federal law since January 8, 2021. The Code supports Wabaseemoong’s exercise of jurisdiction over Wabaseemoong children and families. The coordination agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities of all parties to support coordination of child and family services. It also provides for mechanisms to address funding from the federal and provincial governments to ensure the necessary financial resources are in place.

This is the first coordination agreement signed in Ontario and the second in Canada since the federal legislation An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families came into force in 2020.

Having a child and family services law was always of integral importance to Wabaseemoong Independent Nations. The community began developing its law at a community planning level in 2011. Leadership recognized the work needed at the grass roots level to ensure its success. Culture and tradition are of the upmost importance for Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, and so this work began in ceremony. The community worked closely and collectively with the elders, youth and community members to bring to life what you see today.

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations have always honoured their youth by ensuring they are a central focus to create a better future. In honouring this approach, leadership of Wabaseemoong Independent Nations approved the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations Customary Care Code in 2017 with the leadership of youth.

January 4, 2022

Cowassess First Nation

Toronto Star – Last March, Cowessess residents ratified the Miyo Pimatisowin Act, which sets out the principles and components of their own child and family services program.
They were the first First Nation to get as far as establishing the rules for their own program, after Bill C-92, which became federal law in 2019, first gave them that option. The new plan included handling case files, running treatment programs and, potentially, bringing some children currently in care back home to the community.
The federal government had very little input into the Miyo Pimatisowin Act, and now Chief Cadmus Delorme says he hopes other nations can learn from their experience. Each nation is different, and will have their own way of addressing intergenerational trauma, but Cowessess has helped others figure out how to craft their own laws and rules, he says.
“Not only is Cowessess exiting the child welfare system under the provinces, but we also created our own judicial system to oversee appeals and to make sure that everything is fair.”
Last July, a co-ordination and funding agreement worth $38 million over two years was finalized, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Cowessess powwow grounds.
Cowessess began work on the Chief Red Bear Children’s Lodge in April, and since then leadership says 19 children who were in government care have been returned to the First Nation, where they are in the care of family with supports. Nine children in care in Saskatchewan with roots in Cowessess have been introduced to family and community.
In terms of the expense of creating a new program, Delorme compares it to a rocket launch — you need a lot of fuel to get off the ground, but once you get to orbit, you don’t need quite so much, he says.
So while that first chunk of funding will get them through the first two years, leadership is already talking to the federal government and the province about the years after that, and is hopeful some of the money announced Tuesday will come into play.
The community has already heard from First Nations across the country, he says.
“Sometimes the fear of the unknown will drive that this isn’t a good idea,” he says. “So we are very open to sharing the success.”

November 10, 2021

Loi de la protection sociale atikamekw d’Opitciwan

Representatives from the Conseil des Atikamekw d’Opitciwan, Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) met this morning, along with several guests, to celebrate an historic move forward for First Nations families and children: adoption of the Loi de la protection sociale atikamekw d’Opitciwan (LPSAO). A first in Quebec, this act will allow the community of Opitciwan to be totally autonomous in matters of child protection, in accordance with the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.
“We finally have the means to ensure the wellness of our children, while promoting and guaranteeing accessibility to preventive services in an environment that is safe, suitable and developmentally appropriate for our families. The child’s best interests lie at the heart of our approach and several elements, lacking in provincial and federal jurisdictions, will be determining factors in the LPSAO, including the child’s cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual identity, heritage and education,” concluded Jean-Claude Mequish, Chief of Opitciwan.
In addition, it is worthwhile noting that, to date, nine notices of intention (for 15 communities) have been sent to the federal and provincial governments to exercise legislative jurisdiction over child and family services, as well as four requests (for 22 communities) to enter into a coordination agreement regarding the exercise of this jurisdiction. Other communities will certainly follow Opitciwan’s lead in the foreseeable future.

September 6, 2019

First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal awarded approximately $2B in damages to 54,000 First Nations children apprehended since 2006 by child welfare authorities under the direction of federal government policies. The CHRT has ordered Canada to begin discussions with the Assembly of Forst Nations (AFN) and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) partners in the joint complaint at the CHRT, to establish an independent process for distributing compensation to the children and parents or grandparents covered by this decision.
The CHRT has ordered Canada to provide compensation of up to $40,000 to:

  • all First Nation children who were unnecessarily apprehended on or after January 1, 2006
  • all parents or grandparents of children unnecessarily apprehended on or after January 1, 2006
  • all children denied an essential service (Jordan’s Principle) between December 12, 2007 and November 2, 2017

June 5, 2019

Anishinabek Nation

Official launch of Koganaawsawin, the central body supporting the Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being Law. The Law is an exercise of the Anishinabek First Nations’ inherent right and jurisdiction over child and youth well-being and child welfare. Each Anishinabek First Nation has the authority to enact the law for their citizens.
The launch was held as a celebration of the work that the Anishinabek Nation technicians and Child Well-Being Law Working Group members have started in collaboration with the federal and provincial governments, to support the opportunities for success in addressing development priorities for Anishinabek children, youth and families. Launched with support from the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada.
June 5, 2019 – Official launch of Koganaawsawin, the central body supporting the Anishinabek Nation Child Well-Being Law. The Law is an exercise of the Anishinabek First Nations’ inherent right and jurisdiction over child and youth well-being and child welfare. Each Anishinabek First Nation has the authority to enact the law for their citizens.

March 27, 2019

First Peoples Child & Family Review

15th anniversary issue which features a reprint of 15 of their most popular contributions. This journal has provided a respected platform to share knowledge generated by Indigenous researchers, graduate students, community members, youth, and non-Indigenous allies and supporters.

Four general themes emerged during the editing process:

  • the sharing of Indigenous ways of knowing and Indigenous ways of being in the world;
  • advice for conducting respectful research with and for Indigenous peoples and communities;
  • challenging the status-quo in child welfare, social work, and family services; and
  • documenting the effects of colonization and the power and strength of Indigenous peoples and communities.

July 9, 2005

Spirit Bear Plan

First Nations Child and Family Caring Society has been instrumental in the long-standing (10+ years) fight against the federal government through the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to end discrimination against Indigenous children and youth. FNCFCSC has developed the Spirit Bear Plan to address the significant gap in funding and quality of public services delivered to Indigenous peoples vs the general population in Canada.

  1. CANADA to immediately comply with all rulings by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordering it to immediately cease its discriminatory funding of First Nations child and family services. The order further requires Canada to fully and properly implement Jordan’s Principle (
  2. PARLIAMENT to ask the Parliamentary Budget Officer to publicly cost out the shortfalls in all federally funded public services provided to First Nations children, youth and families (education, health, water, child welfare, etc.) and propose solutions to fix it.
  3. GOVERNMENT to consult with First Nations to co-create a holistic Spirit Bear Plan to end all of the inequalities (with dates and confirmed investments) in a short period of time sensitive to children’s best interests, development and distinct community needs.
  4. GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS providing services to First Nations children and families to undergo a thorough and independent 360° evaluation to identify any ongoing discriminatory ideologies, policies or practices and address them. This evaluation must be publicly available.
  5. ALL PUBLIC SERVANTS including those at a senior level, to receive mandatory training to identify and address government ideology, policies and practices that fetter the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

January 1, 1970

Aboriginal Legal Services

Giiwedin Anang Council (North Star) – Is an Aboriginal Alternative Dispute Resolution (AADR) program for families involved in the child welfare system. The purpose of the Giiwedin Anang Council is to allow parents, children, extended family, child welfare authorities and others with concerns for a child’s future, to get together and develop a plan that will meet the needs of the child.