The Legal Unit at the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is proud to announce the completion of a landmark initiative, the Government Engagement Mechanisms on An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families Final Report. Funded by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), this project aimed to restore jurisdiction over child and family services (CFS) to Indigenous communities, marking a significant step forward in our ongoing mission.
This project was carried out through a series of government engagement mechanisms, which involved six expert round tables and numerous one-on-one interviews. These sessions brought together a diverse range of voices from Indigenous populations across Canada, including legal experts, social workers, academics, community leaders, Elders, youth, gender-diverse people, and individuals with lived experience in care. The richness of these discussions underscored the importance of a collaborative and inclusive approach to policy-making.
The discussions were comprehensive, covering 17 topics identified by ISC, along with several other emergent topics. The insights and perspectives shared during these sessions were invaluable, leading to the formulation of nine key recommendations. These recommendations are not just a list of suggestions; they represent a collective vision for a future where Indigenous communities have full control over their child and family services.
We believe these recommendations have the potential to bring about transformative change for Indigenous communities. They include commitments to need-based funding, mandatory professional training on the Act for lawyers, judges, and CFS providers, and the creation of a national Indigenous CFS oversight body. Each recommendation is a step towards a more equitable and just system that respects and upholds the rights of Indigenous communities.
One of the recommendations that resonated deeply with many participants was the need to ensure that Indigenous WG2STGD+ people are included in consultations about the Act and in its review process. This inclusion is vital to ensure that the voices of all members of our communities are heard and considered. It is a testament to our commitment to inclusivity and respect for all identities and experiences.
The conclusion of this project is a significant milestone in the journey towards restoring jurisdiction over child and family services to Indigenous communities. However, it is not the end of our work. These recommendations provide a roadmap for future action, and we are committed to continuing our advocacy efforts to ensure their implementation.
We are excited about the potential impact of these recommendations and look forward to seeing the positive changes they will bring to Indigenous children, youth, and families across Canada. We envision a future where Indigenous communities have the resources, support, and autonomy they need to thrive.
We thank everyone who participated in this project for their contributions and dedication to this important cause. Your voices have shaped this project and will continue to guide our work in the future.