Ottawa to hand over child welfare services to Indigenous governments

November 30, 2018

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott said Friday that the federal government plans to hand over control of child welfare services to Indigenous governments, in an effort to drive down the massive number of Indigenous children in foster care.

Philpott, standing alongside First Nations, Inuit and Métis national leaders, said forthcoming federal legislation, co-developed with Indigenous leaders, will devolve authority to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to care for their own children in need of foster care.

It's a departure from how the current system works, which leaves most Indigenous kids housed in provincially governed child welfare systems that critics say are inattentive to their unique needs.

While just 7.7 per cent of all children under 14 are Indigenous, they account for 52.2 per cent of all children in foster care — astonishing numbers that demand some sort of response, Philpott said.

Many fear the current system — which regularly seizes children from their families and communities and places them with foster parents — replicates the mistakes made by the Indian residential school system and through the 'Sixties Scoop', alienating kids from their traditional language, culture and support networks.

"For a century now, based on discriminatory policies of government, we've been taking children away from their families. It started with residential schools, it continued with the Sixties Scoop and, still today, children are being taken from their families," Philpott said Friday.

"This legislation marks a turning point to say 'No more.'"

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