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 Child & Family Services (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, SCO 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. We have our 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.
CFS Parents' Bill of Rights
Most southern First Nation parents are unaware of their rights when dealing with Child and Family Services (CFS). The child welfare system can be overwhelming and intimidating to navigate, and the lack of awareness of parent’s rights further compounds these issues.
In order to directly address this problem, the Chiefs’ Standing Committee on Child Welfare issued a Directive to the Southern First Nation Network of Care that requires their child and family service workers to verbally inform First Nation parents of their rights when workers attend to child protection matters.
To learn more, please visit our Parents' Bill of Rights page.