The Southern First Nation Chiefs have long been concerned with over-representation of our children in the Manitoba Child welfare system, and have sought solutions to maintain control and decision-making for community members. Some key issues that our chiefs in summit have addressed are:
- The Anishinaabe and Dakota Family Law Development Initiative
- Memorandum of Understanding between SCO and MacDonald Youth Services
- Transformation of the Southern First Nations Network of Care
- Alternative practice to end birth alerts in Manitoba
Our CFS and Justice team continues to work diligently and collectively with all southern First Nation communities, individuals, families, partnerships and all levels of government to help ensure that all Indigenous children and families are receiving adequate services, programs, and opportunities that will enhance their wellbeing. These include:
- Assisting individuals and families to navigate the CFS and Justice system
- Supporting individuals, families and communities to exercise jurisdiction
- Updating all communities with new information on Child Welfare and Justice issues
- Maintain and or create relationships with various stakeholders
To date the Southern Chiefs’ Organization has started the process of developing a framework for communities seeking to reclaim jurisdiction over child welfare since the passing of federal legislation, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children youth and families. This framework is being developed through collaboration with community-identified wisdom keepers and with input from the CFS agency executive directors and Southern First Nations Network of Care Chief Executive Officer, with project oversight by the Southern Chiefs’ Organization Chiefs Standing Committee on Child Welfare and Justice.
First Nations have exercised their jurisdiction over their children and families from time immemorial. First Nations have their own laws and principles that have survived the onslaught of colonialism, including impacts from the Indian Residential Schools and the 1960s Child Welfare Scoop. Community leadership has consistently taken steps to regain control and decision-making with regard to their own children and families.
Elder Charlie Nelson from Roseau River First Nation gifted our process with the name, “Waakaabit: Working together within the circle to make good decisions for our children and families”, to ensure we continue to work together and re-build our nations, our communities, and our families—for our children, our youth, and our future generations in a good way.
We are all responsible and we all have a role in improving the future outcomes of our children, youth, and families.