Indigenous Success Stories: First Nations

January 5, 2024

First Nations

Opting out of a broken child-welfare system in Winnipeg to build something better

Kendra Inglis, executive director of Makoon Transition Inc., at the Winnipeg transition centre’s office on Dec. 20, 2023.SHANNON VANRAES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The Globe and Mail: Kendra Inglis worked in social services in Winnipeg for two decades, and what she saw bothered her more with every year that went by.

Children would be drawn into the child-welfare system, and then their parents would do what was required to regain custody, but too often, those reunions came to unhappy conclusions that surprised no one.

The parents were often ill-equipped because their own upbringings had been disrupted, or because they struggled with substance use, domestic violence and poverty. Ms. Inglis and her colleagues would know things were going badly, but protocol or lack of resources limited what they could do to help. She was watching children slip through cracks that everyone could see, but no one could fill.

“There needed to be a radical approach, because we can’t keep walking into the same wall and getting a different result,” Ms. Inglis said. “That’s exactly the way I felt that I was working. Yes, I was making differences in people’s lives, but not enough – not enough to genuinely break that cycle.”

Eventually, she couldn’t do it any more. So she opted out of what looked to her like a broken system and built a new one from the ground up.

In 2020, Ms. Inglis received a financial settlement as a survivor of former day schools for Indigenous children and decided to use that money – together with her line of credit and countless hours of DIY labour alongside her family and friends – to make real an idea that had been percolating in her head for a long time.

What she built is Makoon Transition Inc., which now occupies most of a low-rise apartment building just off Pembina Highway. Staff work out of 10 cheerfully crammed apartments and client families occupy the rest, some of which have been renovated to create larger apartments. The program is for Indigenous families who have been reunited after involvement with the child-welfare system, and parents self-refer as clients, which means people are there because they want to be.

Makoon staff provide support with addiction, parenting skills, healthy eating, even fundamentals such as building a routine for getting kids to school on time or how to be a good renter. There is on-site child care, Addicts Anonymous meetings, grief and loss groups, Indigenous cultural teachings, all-family barbecues in the summer and a Christmas party. Attending a program is mandatory, but residents pick what they want that to be.

In other words, Makoon provides a place for families to live, surrounded by the supports to help them re-establish life as a family. “The needs of the families, they just keep teaching us every single day that there’s a gap and we need to fill it,” Ms. Inglis said. “No one’s ever going to come to Makoon and say that it looks good on paper and they didn’t get the services that they needed.”

The building is distinctly humble, but it was equally clear that enormous effort had gone into making it as bright, clean and welcoming as possible. Every possible surface was festooned with something cheerful or meaningful: inspirational posters, pragmatic tips and information, bright tinsel things as the holidays drew near.

In the hallways, the apartments of Makoon families were indicated by tiny cedar boughs above the doors. Staff walk the halls around the clock and do check-ins where they must personally lay eyes on each child three times a day, so they can catch small problems before they become big ones.

“You hear kids freaking out, you walk in and check in with the family, and you see mom or dad’s overwhelmed, and it’s like, ‘What do you need from us?’ ” Ms. Inglis said. “What’s going to make a big deal, too, is respecting that this is their home.” For staff serving clients who have often not been given a choice about who helps them or how, asking permission to help was a useful lesson, she explained.

Many of the thoughtful gestures at Makoon stand as stark reminders that the ordinary milestones and rituals of family life are rare and precious if you don’t have the resources or stability to easily make them yours.

In one staff office, a door frame marked the heights of growing Makoon kids, and during renovations, they made sure that strip of wall and history was preserved. On the central bulletin board, the sign-up sheet for Santa photos was completely full by mid-November, with extra names scrawled at the bottom.

The day the child benefit payments go out, staff post a sign-up sheet for a Costco outing, so everyone can buy in bulk and make their money go further. The same central bulletin board also lists food banks, parks and walking trails in Winnipeg, COVID and flu shot clinics, yoga and tai chi registration, and all sorts of self-development and mental-health workshops.

Makoon is an alcohol- and drug-free program, and when an apartment is available for the next family on the waitlist, they used to do a urine test at intake. But they found some parents could maintain sobriety for the five days that test would cover, but would then falter, after the children had been uprooted from stable long-term placements. Now they use a hair follicle test that detects drug use in the past 120 days, one of many things they’ve learned as they went along.

“They need to be somewhat stable so that they have a head start to parent their kids,” Ms. Inglis said.

After her initial investment of money and elbow grease, Makoon is now funded through Jordan’s Principle, a legal framework that ensures that Indigenous children receive the same services as non-Indigenous kids. The program employs 70 staff, half of whom are Indigenous. They often get inquiries from would-be volunteers, but Ms. Inglis sticks with paid staff because these families have had enough people drift in and out of their lives.

“A lot of our babies have been the product of birth alerts, so there’s been no bonding. So they’re getting their kids back at four, five, six years old, and this is what they worked so hard to do, but they grew up in care and don’t have the skills,” Ms. Inglis said. “So it’s a lot of role-modelling that happens in this building.”

Families stay as long as they need to; residency of more than a year isn’t uncommon. In the three years since Makoon was founded, 117 families have been accepted, 50 have successfully completed the program and 32 have been unsuccessful, with 35 families currently enrolled. The 50 successfully reunited families represent 128 children who are no longer in the care of Child and Family Services, but back with their parents.

The bulletin boards and shelves in Ms. Inglis’s office overflow with letters, cards and handmade gifts from clients expressing how Makoon has changed their life. “You picked me up at my lowest and saved me,” one letter says. “The new things I’ve done, the future I’ve created for me and my kids, I would [have] never thought I could go on this way,” another parent wrote.

One woman went even further and tattooed the Makoon logo of a mother bear with three cubs on her arm. “To me, that’s crazy, I would never do that,” Ms. Inglis chuckled, plainly delighted.

Another mom was living in the program when her ninth child was born. And that is why there’s now a little girl out in the world named Makoon.


October 31, 2022

First Nations

Manitoba’s first Indigenous child advocate says more work needed to break colonial bonds

Some leaders have high expectations for advocate from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation

Sherry Gott (right) of Sapotaweyak First Nation is Manitoba’s new Advocate for Children and Youth.

NationTalk: There are three things you should know about Manitoba’s new Advocate for Children and Youth.

Sherry Gott is First Nations, has a master’s degree in social work, and knows the Child and Family Services Act inside and out.

“I’ve apprehended children,” she said in an interview after her four-year appointment was announced. “I’ve been one of the bad guys.”

Close to 90 per cent of children in the province’s child welfare and foster care system are Indigenous. Gott says keeping them safe is the Number 1 reason social workers remove them from their homes.

But the practice is reminiscent of the federal government’s assimilationist residential school system, which forcibly removed children from their families.

So Gott understands why Indigenous communities want their own child welfare system. Communities want to rely on “our natural laws [and] our natural systems,” says David Monias, chief of Pihicikamak [Cross Lake] First Nation.

That’s why he views Gott’s hiring as a good move. “In my experience, it makes a big difference having someone Indigenous in a role like that. You don’t have to explain the realities of our communities – don’t have to explain our ceremonies and the kinship ties that we have.

“With her knowledge of our culture, we can understand each other.”

Sherry Gott
Sherry Gott wore a ribbon skirt and held an eagle feather to her swearing-in ceremony at the Manitoba Legislature. Photo courtesy Kelly Gossfeld

Gott, a member of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, received an award for her contributions to the community in 2011 from the Aboriginal Social Work Society of Manitoba. Her latest role was as a member of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Liaison Unit at Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.

She was inspired to become a social worker as a young girl while watching her maternal grandmother interact with new parents in her community. “She was a supporter, an advisor, a midwife,” Gott says. “There was no judgement. “I admired how she was involved with families in a non-confrontational way.”

Gott tried to emulate her grandmother while she worked in the system run by a colonial government.

She was always propelled by the needs of the children, she says, but wasn’t as aware as she is now of the impact on parents, families and communities.

It’s a subject she’ll be researching and likely reporting on as the advocate. Especially when it comes to rural and remote First Nations. “When you’re isolated everything is harder,” she added. “I’ll be sure to visit those communities.”

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs [AMC] has long called for changes to the way non-Indigenous politicians and social workers deal with their children.

Gott was part of the system when it went through devolution – the creation of Indigenous child welfare agencies – as a way to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into decision making.

Gott’s former employer praised her appointment on Facebook.

It was an attempt to decolonize child welfare, but Gott says Indigenous social workers inside Indigenous agencies were still bound by provincial judgements, attitudes and rules. “We were expected to do what had always been done,” she explains. “It was frustrating.”

Chief Derek Nepinak of Pine Creek First Nation says the AMC hired Cora Morgan as its own First Nations Family Advocate because she is not a social worker.

“There’s a very strong core of communities and people that are moving away from an association with provincial legislation more than they are moving towards it,” he says.

Morgan, who is First Nations, did not respond to a request for comment APTN News made through the AMC.

Gott acknowledged the tense and sometimes acrimonious relationship between Indigenous child welfare agencies and their authorities and the provincial system – especially when children fall through the cracks.

Her role now is to analyse and make recommendations on those situations in public reports, she says while pointing to a stack of papers on her desk.

“Many people know me and know I’m a straight talker,” she says. “That won’t change now.”

Read More: 

New report highlights challenges facing youth in Manitoba 

Gott will be watching as the next attempt to Indigenize child welfare occurs through the federal Liberals’ Indigenous child welfare law via Bill C-92.

The “Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families” recognizes Indigenous communities’ inherent jurisdiction over their children.

August 12, 2022

First Nations

How First Nations in Alberta are building their own child welfare systems

Several Indigenous communities in Alberta are in the process of crafting their own child welfare laws, planning to take over the services from the provincial government. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

CBC News: A trio of northern First Nations expect to be the first Indigenous group to take over child welfare services from the Alberta government — but say their new agency won’t be up and running for over a year.

Loon River Cree Nation, Peerless Trout First Nation and Lubicon Lake Band are on track to sign the first agreement in Alberta, and to potentially be the first collective to sign in Canada, said Mona Auger, executive director of KTC Child & Family Services. Its head offices are located in Red Earth Creek, Alta., about 350 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

“It’s going to work,” Auger said. “I believe that we’re going to be able to provide a better service to our own members rather than the provincial system that they put upon us.”

In January 2020, new federal law affirmed Indigenous jurisdiction over child intervention services for their own populations. Since then, Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan and Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in Treaty 3 in Ontario have signed trilateral agreements with the federal government and the provincial governments from which they were taking over.

Dozens of Indigenous communities across Canada have notified the federal government of plans to do the same.

Four notices of intention to exercise this authority had been served to the Alberta government as of July 7. Five requests to enter into a co-ordination agreements had been made.

KTC Child & Family Services already provides child welfare services under provincial law for the three First Nations that are members of the Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council. Eventually, the agency will transition to operating with the authority of Awasak Wiyasiwewin — Cree for “children’s law” — once it is enacted, which Auger said is on track to happen in September 2023.

The new law was approved by membership of the three First Nations in a vote last September.

Work with province ongoing

If negotiations weren’t going well with the two levels of government, the tribal council could have enacted the law Friday, Auger said, as it marked one year since serving the provincial and federal governments notice.   Talks with the two governments on fiscal and co-ordination agreements have gone well, however, so they’re continuing to work together on the transition, she said.

“We were initially worried about Alberta’s position, but they’ve been supportive of us and working with us and meeting with us regularly,” Auger said. 

She added progress continued when Children’s Services Minister Matt Jones took over the file in June, after MLA Rebecca Schulz resigned to run for the leadership of the United Conservative Party.

Jones was unavailable for an interview, but his press secretary Andrew Reith told CBC News the ministry is committed to working with Indigenous communities to create co-ordination agreements and ensure Indigenous children are safe and receiving support.

Advocates have called for an urgent decolonization of Alberta’s child welfare system. Indigenous children and youth are vastly overrepresented in Alberta’s child welfare system. Of the 49 people who died while receiving child intervention services in fiscal 2021-2022, 39 were Indigenous. 

Removing children from care ‘last resort’

The KTC law will ensure children will only be taken into care as a “last, last resort,” Auger said.  “Our law is different than the provincial law in that it really emphasizes… prevention, early intervention activities,” Auger said.

Alberta’s courts will not have a role in their system, she said. Instead, if a family wants to appeal a decision made by the executive director, it will be reviewed by a tribunal with members appointed by the three First Nations’ leadership.

There are also plans to set up urban offices in communities where there is a high enough concentration of members of the three First Nations, Auger said. There are about 4,000 total members, most of whom live on reserve in northern Alberta, she said. But their jurisdiction over their children will extend anywhere in Canada a member is living. 

Auger hopes their organization’s work can help guide other Indigenous communities that are in earlier stages of crafting their own child welfare laws.  Driftpile Cree Nation Chief Dwayne Laboucan said his community has been working on its law for about a year. There will be a third reading of the legislation next month, then members will vote on it.

Driftpile Cree Nation Chief Dwayne Laboucan says members of his nation will vote on a new child welfare law in September. (Chief Dwayne Laboucan)

He said there are roughly 1,200 members living on the First Nation — located about 250 kilometres northwest of Edmonton — and about 1,200 living elsewhere. Like KTC, Driftpile’s law will prioritize prevention and keeping children with their families, and will rely on a dispute-resolution process outside of Alberta courts.

Laboucan said another key part of Driftpile’s legislation is keeping their culture and language at the forefront. 

“Words matter,” the chief said. “Our law gets rid of terms like ‘agency’ and ‘custody’ and ‘apprehension,’ and replaces them with concepts and ideas familiar to Cree people to transform the way that we care for one another.” Laboucan expects it will be a year or two before Driftpile is ready to launch its child and family services, because they need time to build infrastructure and hire staff.

“We want to do it right. We’re not going to rush into it,” he said. “We want to make sure everything is set up properly and done right before we take full control of it.”

June 16, 2022

First Nations

Tobique First Nation Adopts Dedicated Child Welfare Act

91.9 The Bend: Wolastoqewiyik Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation) made history on June 8 after becoming the first Wolastoqey nation in the country to ratify its own Child and Family Well-Being Act.

Similar to the federal government’s C-92, also known as the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, it empowers Indigenous communities to take jurisdiction over child and family services.

Neqotkuk First Nation Chief Ross Perley said this is a historic step towards self-determination, adding that it will ensure kids and their families can stay healthy, achieve their dreams and celebrate their culture while living at home. “We have talked for a long time about making our laws and taking control over child welfare for our community, our families,” said Perley in a news release.

“The Neqotkuk Child and Family Well-Being Act makes this goal a reality.”

The Wolastoqey nation noted this was a recommendation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help address the ongoing legacy of Residential Schools and Indian Day Schools.

The new Neqotkuk Child and Family Well-Being Act introduces the following changes:

  • Recognizes the rights of the child
  • Exercises inherent right to make laws governing child welfare amongst Neqotkukiyik
  • Establishes Neqotkuk jurisdiction and definition of the best interest of the child
  • Unifies families through a proactive prevention-based child and family well-being model
  • Builds service models representative of Wolastoqiyik Neqotkuk
  • Replaces the Province of New Brunswick’s authority over child welfare matters in Neqotkuk

Neqotkuk First Nation has operated a child welfare agency, the Tobique Child and Family Services Agency Inc., since 1985, delivering services designed by federal and provincial governments.

The act will also allow the agency to design child welfare services.

“The New Brunswick Social Development department has been a solid and reliable partner and we look forward to working productively with them to implement this law and establish its support through provincial institutions,” said Perle

May 30, 2022

First Nations leaders launch National Assembly of Remote Communities

NationTalk: Treaty 6 Territory, Saskatoon, SK – Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Chiefs Committee on Children Youth and Families will join with counterparts from northern Indigenous communities across Canada next week to celebrate the creation of a collective voice – the National Assembly of Remote Communities (NARC).

This first-ever meeting of allied leadership from remote communities will be co-hosted by Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) First Vice Chief David Prattand Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse May 31 to June 2, 2022, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They will be joined by Elders and leaders from women and youth councils, and representatives of Indigenous child welfare agencies and the Government of Canada.

“Canada has failed our youth and families for decades, but I am encouraged that we now have a healing path forward. The launch of the National Assembly of Remote Communities is an important step on our journey of long-term reform that will be First Nations led, as Treaty and Indigenous rights holders, and based on our inherent authorityto care for our children,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse. “I look forward to taking this historic step with our brothers and sisters from many Nations.”

“The National Assembly of Remote Communities has been created by First Nations for First Nations,” said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt. “This Assembly will address the serious funding issues our northern and remote nations face daily and address those areas where investments are critically needed. Our First Nations children are our future, and we need to create a better path forward for them. This is the first step in that process.”

The Assembly will center on three major themes:

  1. The Journeys of Remote Communities: Their realities and lived experiences. 
  2. The Science of Measuring Remoteness: We cannot manage what we do not measure. 
  3. Community Vulnerabilities Respecting Settlement Payouts: A study and discussion of best practices and safeguards.

Discussions will include first-hand accounts of the lived experience of remoteness directly from community leadership, knowledge-keepers, and Elders, and the challenges and barriers faced in remote communities.

National Assembly of Remote Communities (NARC)

The National Assembly of Remote Communities was formed in 2021 through the Global Resolution Negotiations in respect of the settlement of outstanding claims against the Government of Canada in the context of child welfare. Regional leadership, in the spirit of a united voice on issues impacting remote Indigenous communities, have united under an assembly of common interest to, for the first time, create a unified voice on issues of unique concern to remote Indigenous communities at the national level.

The mandate of NARC is to ensure that a strong and united voice is heard at the national level in respect of the grossly inadequate factoring for remoteness in the delivery of federal services, and to ensure that appropriate governance around issues of common concern to remote communities takes place. The intent of NARC is to represent an advocacy voice across sectors including child welfare, health, education, and community safety.

Charter members include Nishnawbe Aski Nation, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, and the Alberta and Northwest Territories regions of the Assembly of First Nations.

The Assembly will be held at TCU Place Conference Centre, 35-22nd Street East, Saskatoon, SK.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation represents 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Ontario portions of Treaty No. 5 – an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario in Canada.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The Federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of the Treaties, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the Treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.

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.