Northern Ont. First Nations regain jurisdiction over child protection

First Nations between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury seek to regain jurisdiction of the Ontario government over the child welfare system.

North Shore Tribal Council First Nations discuss the implementation of the Binoojii Adziwin Inakonigewin Project, an initiative to see First Nations create their own child welfare laws, which would in turn be governed directly by First Nations.

Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers said the parameters of the current system, as designed by the provincial government, are too restrictive for Indigenous culture and teachings.

“These kinds of foundations are absent from the current models promoted by the Crown, so we really see the value of the Indigenous worldview in how we care for our children,” Sayers said.

The creation of this initiative really began with the creation of Nogdawindamin Family and Community Services, he said, when First Nations chiefs grew tired of the treatment their people were receiving with organizations like the Aid Society. in childhood.

In advancing these child welfare laws, Nogdawindamin would respond directly to First Nations, rather than the province.

“We depended on the provincial system, basically to provide protection services,” said Chief Brent Bissaillion of Serpent River First Nation. “It sometimes judges our own people, and what we need to do is take that back.”

Bissaillion pushed for the initiative to succeed, not only as a way to restore power for First Nations, but also to help eliminate systemic discrimination.

“When we establish Anishinabe law, we are basically looking to also develop a dispute resolution system so that we can keep them out of provincial courts,” he added.

Discussions with the province have been opened and are progressing positively, according to Sayers.

The implementation of the laws is scheduled for the second year of the Côte-Nord five-year plan.

Thelma J. Longworth