SCO Welcomes Pledge to Transfer Jurisdiction of Child Welfare

May 15, 2024

“This is an important and monumental step when it comes to caring for our children.”

– Grand Chief Daniels

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 15, 2024

ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB —The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) was pleased to witness a historic signing ceremony involving several of our Nations. On May 13, 2024, sixteen southern Chiefs signed a relationship declaration pledging the transfer of jurisdiction over child welfare to Manitoba First Nations/

“For years, we have voiced our concerns and dismay with over-representation of our children in the Manitoba child welfare system,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “While long overdue, I am pleased to see our provincial Treaty partner come forward with this initiative. This declaration recognizes that First Nations are paramount. The signing of this document marks a true beginning in finding solutions and working with the province in a collaborative way as we seek to regain rightful control and decision-making for our children and families.”

The declaration aligns with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognizes the right of Indigenous families and communities to retain shared responsibility for the upbringing, training, education, and well-being of their children, consistent with the rights of the child.

This announcement also comes after the federal government passed Bill C-92 in 2020. That legislation recognizes Indigenous jurisdiction over child and family services, with the authority to pass and enforce laws related to the provision of child and family services to their citizens, supported by co-ordination agreements with Canada and the provinces.

The SCO member Chiefs who signed the declaration include:

· Chief Roland Hamilton – Bloodvein First Nation

· Chief Gordon Bluesky – Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation

· Chief Raymond Brown – Canupawakpa Dakota Nation

· Chief Donny Smoke – Dakota Plains Wahpeton Oyate

· Chief Lawrence Letandre – Dauphin River First Nation

· Chief Wayne Desjarlais – Ebb and Flow First Nation

· Chief Tony Travers – Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation

· Chief Clinton Keeper – Little Grand Rapids First Nation

· Chief David Meeches – Long Plain First Nation

· Chief Kerwin Chaboyer – O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation

· Chief Kurvis Anderson – Pinaymootang First Nation

· Chief Trevor Prince – Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation

· Chief Cameron Catcheway – Skownan First Nation

· Chief Jason Daniels – Swan Lake First Nation

· Chief Barry McKay – Tootinaowaziibeeng Treaty Reserve

· Chief Murray Clearsky – Waywayseecappo First Nation

“My hope and vision is that someday we will no longer require external agencies or services to manage the lives of our children and families,” added Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation Chief Gordon Bluesky. “I extend my gratitude to Manitoba’s Minister of Families, Nahanni Fontaine, for inviting us to take this significant step and for initiating the process of reclaiming our inherent responsibilities.”

Peguis First Nation was the first southern Nation to sign a co-coordination agreement with the provincial and federal governments in 2023, resulting in the transfer of jurisdiction through amendments to the Child and Family Services Act.

“I applaud and support any movement towards substantive changes to the child welfare system in Manitoba and to support the preservation of southern First Nation families. While this is one important step, it is essential that SCO member Nations have the necessary resources to provide the support our families and children deserve,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “I hope this announcement is just the beginning, and that fewer of our children will be apprehended and family placements will be prioritized. I can confidently state that this will lead to better outcomes for our youngest citizens.”

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The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 87,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

For media inquiries:

Email: Media@scoinc.mb.ca