Peguis First Nation celebrated a historic moment Tuesday by becoming the first Indigenous community in Manitoba to administer child welfare under federal law that went into effect three years ago.
The First Nation was joined by Federal Minister of Indigenous Services Patti Haido, Manitoba Premier Heather Stephenson, and Manitoba Family Minister Rochelle Squires, who signed three intergovernmental coordination agreements.
Glenn Hudson, chief of Peggis First Nation, said after the ceremony, “The circulation has been broken. What is being provided is our care, which we haven’t had in a long time.” said.
First Nations should inform the Canadian Indigenous Services Agency that they intend to handle services for their children and families as outlined in the Federal Law Respecting First Nation, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families. One of the 20+ communities we notified.
The Elder and the Guardian of Knowledge sat on a rug made of bison fur in the center of the room. We started the day with a pipe and water ceremony using ceremonial paraphernalia.
The community has requested an agreement in 2021. Under federal law, the First Nation’s own laws came into force a year before him, but states did not sign it at the time.
This is the first time Manitoba has signed such an agreement and has previously expressed concerns about the law.
“We know this process has not been quick, but we are here now, the first to launch legislation in Manitoba to honor our children and families,” Hudson said. “It’s long overdue.”
Under Peguis First Nation legislation, members across the country will have access to preventive services. The law focuses on prevention so families can get the support they need to stay together.
Peguis has jurisdiction over reception services, child abuse investigations, out-of-hours services, and early intervention services for members residing off- and in reserves. If another agency becomes involved with children, youth or families in your area as part of your contract, you must notify Pegis Child and Family Services.
The deal includes a three-year, $319 million commitment from the federal government to fund all aspects of child and family services.
“It costs more to keep a family together, but it costs more to break it up,” says Haidu.
“This is actually a precautionary measure that communities across the country need to keep their families intact. It’s how we reverse some of the significant struggles communities face across the country.”
Indigenous children and youth make up a significant proportion of child welfare systems in Manitoba and across the country.
Some people refer to the current system as the “millennium scoop,” which derives from the 1960s scoop, the practice of separating Indigenous children from their parents.
Interactions with the child welfare system are associated with the judicial system, addiction, mental health problems, and the large number of indigenous peoples involved in homelessness.
Gaining control, Hudson says, means that children who end up in the system have access to their culture and community while their parents receive support. increase.
Peguis has been successful since the law came into force last year. More than 250 members were in care at the time, according to her Clemene Hornbrook, executive director of Peguis Child and Family Services, and about 100 have since been sent back to First Nations.
She added that the agency is preventing about 60 children from entering care.
“We do not intend to bring our families or children to court. We sit with our elders and practice traditional methods and practices when serving our members.” said Hornbrook.
The state said it would continue to provide funds allocated to Peguis before the deal was signed.
“We are really looking forward to working with them as a state to ensure that the child welfare system is truly transformed.
Saskatchewan’s Cowses First Nation is the first group to take over child welfare in Canada in July 2021.
The Peguis are the third indigenous group to sign coordination agreements with state and federal governments.
“We are working at First Nation speed. This is not about imposing a new system on the colonial era. It’s about providing a
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on January 31, 2023.