Indigenous Success Stories: First Nations

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.

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.