Indigenous community in Canada signs agreement with government to regain jurisdiction over child protection – JURIST – News

Cowessess First Nation on Tuesday became the first Canadian Indigenous community to sign an agreement with the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan under Canada’s historic Bill C-92 passed in 2019. Subsequent legislation empowered Indigenous communities to recover their competence according to their own history, culture and laws. Jurisdiction is recognized as federal law and takes precedence over provincial laws and family services. Notably, the Cowessess First Nation announced the discovery of approximately 751 unmarked graves near a former residential school in Saskatchewan earlier this month.

A signing ceremony and celebration was held at the Cowessess First Nation powwow grounds, where the First Nation team finalized the agreement with the governments. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe have visited the Saskatchewan community to announce the agreement with Chief Cadmus Delorme.

Prior to the signing of the agreement, Chief Delorme Explain the situation of children in care, indicating that jurisdiction over these children had been removed from the First Nation since 1951, so that non-Indigenous laws governed final decision-making and judicial decision-making processes. However, a positive step was taken under Bill C-92 in March 2020, when the Cowessess First Nation passed legislation to give Indigenous communities greater control over child welfare. in their communities while reducing the number of Indigenous children in foster care. He added that the responsibility of children in care is:

Part of the long term goal of controlling our own plan of self-government based on our inherent rights and treaty relationships. The Coordination Agreement is a transition plan to ensure that the transfer of jurisdiction is professional and at the pace of the Cowessess First Nation. The tax agreement confirms the investment by the Government of Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan to support the Cowessess First Nation.

The current Canadian system has been criticized for several shortcomings, such as failing to meet the cultural needs of Indigenous children and their continued overrepresentation in the health care system. In 2016, federal data revealed that more than 52.2% of children under the age of 15 in foster care were Indigenous, despite making up only 7.7% of the infant population.

To help the community of Cowessess establish its independent child and family services system, Ottawa will provide $ 38.7 million over the next two years. Other Aboriginal groups have also indicated their intention to control their child and family service plans.

In addition, Trudeau said the Canadian government is working with other First Nations communities to establish similar agreements. In addition to making changes to child protection programs, such agreements may transfer control to other areas such as education, health care and business.

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