Legal: Advancing Indigenous Rights: Legal Unit’s Two Major Projects Approach Key Milestones

May 30, 2023

The Legal Unit has been diligently working on two significant projects, both of which are now reaching crucial milestones, with final reports coming soon. These initiatives will help restore jurisdiction over child and family services to Indigenous communities, and pave the way for achieving reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

One of these projects concerns the government engagement mechanisms (GEMs) on An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Children, Youth, and Families. The Act aims to restore jurisdiction over Child and Family Services (CFS) to Indigenous communities. Funded by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), NWAC conducted a series of GEMs to gather input from Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, Transgender, and Gender-Diverse+ (WG2STGD+) Peoples about the Act and its implementation.

NWAC organized, and hosted, six expert roundtables and a series of one-on-one interviews, discussing 17 topics identified by ISC along with several other topics raised during the sessions. Participants included a diverse representation of Indigenous Peoples from the four directions, including legal experts, professional social workers, academics, community leaders, Elders, youth, and people with lived experience in care.

Another important project is the UNDRIP Act Implementation Project. NWAC released a comprehensive final report to inform Canada's UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) Action Plan. The report highlights the importance of addressing unique challenges faced by Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples, as Canada aligns its laws with the Declaration.

The report focuses on Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples’ rights, calling for gender-specific directives to be included in Canada’s UNDRIP Action Plan, which is expected to be tabled in June 2023. 

The action plan must reflect the ongoing genocide for missing and murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit+ (MMIWG2S+) Peoples, as well as the remaining inequities within the Indian Act’s membership provisions, to realize their inherent right to gender-based equality.

NWAC conducted in-depth engagement sessions with Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples, including Elders, Knowledge Keepers, youth, experts, and legal scholars. The insights and feedback from these sessions form the basis of NWAC's recommendations.

These two major projects demonstrate the commitment of NWAC’s Legal Unit to uplifting Indigenous rights and pushing for meaningful change. As both projects continue to make significant strides, the focus remains on ensuring that the unique perspectives of Indigenous WG2STGD+ Peoples are considered, empowering Indigenous communities, and working toward a brighter, more equitable future.

Stay tuned for the final reports on CFS and UNDRIP—coming soon to