An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families receives Royal Assent
From: Indigenous Services Canada
Co-developed with Indigenous, provincial, and territorial partners, Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families will finally enshrine into law what Indigenous peoples across Canada have asked of governments for decades: to affirm and recognize their jurisdiction over child and family services
June, 21, 2019 — Ottawa, Unceded Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada
Reducing the number of Indigenous children in care continues to be one of the Government of Canada’s most important priorities.
On February 28, 2019, the Government introduced Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the Act). This legislation was co-developed with Indigenous, provincial, and territorial partners with the goal of keeping Indigenous children and youth connected to their families, communities, and culture.
Today, this crucial piece of legislation for Indigenous children, youth and families has received Royal Assent.
It recognizes a simple truth: one size does not fit all when it comes to Indigenous child and family services. Under Bill C-92, Indigenous communities and groups will be free to develop policies and laws based on their particular histories, cultures, and circumstances. Free to move at their own pace to implement and enforce these policies and laws.
Through the Act, national principles such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity, and substantive equality have been established to help guide the provision of Indigenous child and family services. The Act also enables Indigenous groups and communities to transition toward exercising partial or full jurisdiction over child and family services at a pace that they choose.
It is also consistent with the Government of Canada’s commitments to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, and the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This legislation is the culmination of extensive engagements with partners, which began with the January 2018 Emergency Meeting on Indigenous Child and Family Services, at which the federal government committed to six points of action to address the over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in care, including exploring the co-development of legislation on Indigenous child and family services. This Act is also a result of the advocacy and leadership of Chiefs and elders, parents and grandparents, youth and community members from across Canada.
Just as the Act was co-developed with First Nations, Inuit and Métis, so will be its implementation. To ensure a smooth transition and implementation of the Act, Indigenous Services Canada and its partners are exploring the creation of distinctions-based transition governance structures with representation from Indigenous partners, Provinces and Territories.
The adoption of Bill C-92 represents a new chapter in the history of Canada and its relationship with Indigenous children, youth and families. It is designed to improve the health and well-being of generations of Indigenous children and youth to come.
“Today marks a great step forward in our reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Today we take action to put an end to an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Every day, Indigenous children in this country are separated from their families, communities, languages, and cultures. An entire generation of Indigenous families are counting on us to get this right. We must not disappoint them.”
The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services
- This historic Bill affirms the jurisdiction of all Indigenous Peoples with regards to child and family services.
- According to Census 2016, Indigenous children represent 52.2% of children in foster care in private homes in Canada, despite accounting for only 7.7% of the overall population of children under 15.
- The first five Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada relate to child welfare, including Call to Action #4 which calls “upon the federal government to enact Aboriginal child-welfare legislation”.
- Budget 2016 included new funding of $634.8 million over five years, and Budget 2018 included new funding of $1.4 billion over six years in the First Nations Child and Family Services Program to ensure the safety, security and well-being of Indigenous children.
- In 2018-2019, the total First Nations Child and Family Services Program funding under Indigenous Services Canada was more than $1.1 billion.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Seamus O’Regan
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada