Background Content

Call to Action # 1: Child Welfare (1-5)

Indigenous Responses to Agreements-in-Principle

January 5, 2022
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of CanadaJan. 4, 2022: “There is an unquestionable need for actionable change. This Agreement-in-Principle, while an important first step, is a non-binding agreement. A pre-agreement that simply lays out a pathway to a binding agreement to address Canada’s longstanding discrimination in First Nations child welfare and inequitable public services via Jordan’s Principle. It is only when that binding agreement has been written and signed by the Government of Canada and acted upon with great haste that First Nations children, youth and families will have a measure of assurance that actionable change is coming.”  
Assembly of First NationsJan. 4, 2022: The compensation AIP proposes a settlement of $20 billion in compensation to First Nations children and families impacted by discrimination through the FNCFS Program and the improper implementation of Jordan’s Principle. The compensation acknowledges that too many First Nations children were unnecessarily apprehended from their parents and communities and suffered harms that include abuse, the loss of language, culture and attachment to their families. In addition, compensation will be made available to certain individuals who were subjected to a delay, denial or disruption of services, supports, treatment and products as a result of the federal government’s narrow application of Jordan’s Principle. The long-term reform AIP outlines a framework to correct the many discriminatory aspects of the FNCFS program and Jordan’s Principle. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that the current program contains a perverse incentive for child welfare agencies to apprehend children. Specifically, a child welfare agency would not be reimbursed for expenses incurred to provide services, unless the child was removed from their home and placed into state care. The federal government’s narrow implementation of Jordan’s Principle resulted in First Nation children being denied medical and other services which, in some cases, forced parents to place their children into care. The AIP on long-term reform will result in the elimination of these structural problems.
Chiefs of OntarioJan. 4, 2022: After careful consideration, the Chiefs of Ontario Leadership Council voted to approve this Agreement-in-Principle. “This Agreement-in-Principle is the beginning of addressing the systemic racism and systemic barriers faced by First Nations families and children for generations. We’ve worked tirelessly in these ongoing negotiations with Canada to reform the chronic and discriminatory underfunding of First Nations Child and Family Services and Jordan’s Principle. It is our intent to ensure First Nations children and families are happy, healthy and supported for years to come,” said Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare. “As Ontario Regional Chief, the health and wellbeing of First Nations children and families remain of top priority and we will continue our advocacy efforts to ensure our citizens are no longer subject to a system designed to assimilate First Nations.” The Agreement-in-Principle will initiate long-term reforms that ensure First Nations-led, culturally appropriate supports and prevention services are available to families. It will also increase funding available for First Nation Representative services and will provide culturally-grounded protection approaches that will allow First Nations youth to remain connected to their language and culture, safely within their homes and communities.
Assembly of Manitoba ChiefsJan. 24, 2022: “This historic settlement, of $40 billion dollars, has been a long time coming,” said AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse today in Ottawa. “First Nations from across Canada have had to work very hard for this day. Since we launched the case before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal over a decade ago, and prior, the Assembly of First Nations has pressed the federal government to provide redress for monumental wrongs against First Nations children, wrongs fuelled by an inherently biased system.” She added that discriminatory funding and other decisions has led to a massive over-apprehension of First Nations children into the child welfare system in every province and territory. “Every day for decades, First Nations children, some even newborns, have been ripped from their families and communities, and many denied medical services and other supports when they’ve needed them, all at the hands of a federal child welfare program that should have protected them,” said Regional Chief Woodhouse. “This wasn’t and isn’t about parenting. It’s about poverty, and First Nations children being removed from their families and communities instead of being provided food, clothing or shelter.  We have a long way to go to address the poverty in our nations and no amount of money will ever be the ‘right amount’, nor will it bring back a childhood lost, but today is about acknowledgement, about being seen and heard. Today is about a plan for the future with First Nations defining and determining a path forward grounded in our rights and the common goal to have our children succeed.”    
Assembly of First Nations Québec-LabradorJan. 4, 2022: “Although we consider this agreement as being an important step forward, we feel that long-term reform work is still required for Jordan’s principle, and that reforming government is essential if we want to prevent any future harm to our First Nations children, youth and families. Until now, Canada’s slow pace of change on immediate relief has delayed progress on long-term reform. We expect the federal government to get it right this time. We need concrete actions, starting today”, said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL).  
Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians  Jan. 5, 2022: “This Agreement-in-Principle while not perfect represents an opportunity for First Nations to implement their inherent jurisdiction over child welfare and put an end to discrimination and over representation.  Now the work begins to reach a final agreement.” Grand Chief Joel Abram Deputy Grand Chief Stacia Loft says “The impact on Indigenous Children by this faulty system has affected many generations and even today, many still feel pain. Compensation will help but there will forever be a scar on numerous families. The next steps will be hard, and the climb will be steep but, we’ve come a long way and have covered a lot of ground.”