AMC Commends Historic Declaration for First Nations Jurisdiction over Children and Families in Manitoba

May 14, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba — The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs’ First Nations Family Advocate Office (AMC-FNFAO) commends the historic declaration signed yesterday by Chiefs from 27 First Nations in Manitoba and the provincial government. This achievement marks a highly anticipated and significant step towards returning the jurisdiction of children and families back to First Nations under Bill C-92. AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick welcomes the declaration, emphasizing that First Nations never conceded jurisdiction over the well-being of their children and families.

“First Nations never surrendered jurisdiction over their children and families. Rather, Canada stole that jurisdiction and allowed the province to steal our children, destroy our families and try to weaken First Nations,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “The province of Manitoba remains the steward of this colonial and genocidal legacy, and it is high time for positive change for First Nations in Manitoba.”

As of March 2022, 80 per cent of the 9,196 children in provincial care were First Nations. The ongoing removal of First Nations children from their families and Nations robs children of their identities, teachings, languages, and laws, funnelling First Nations into a system of dependency, endemic poverty, homelessness, and violence.

Bill C-92 offers a positive alternative to the provincial child and family services system by acknowledging the authority of First Nations to create and enforce laws regarding these services for their citizens. This is achieved through coordination agreements with Canada and provincial or territorial governments.

Grand Chief Merrick says several things must happen as First Nations begin to use federal legislation to reassert their jurisdiction in the area of children and families. “First Nations laws have existed since time immemorial, and the Crown recognized this by entering Nation-to-Nation treaties with the various First Nations throughout what is now Canada. Respecting this relationship is crucial for reconciliation in Manitoba. This includes recognizing and implementing First Nations law outside the existing child welfare system, transitioning to direct funding for First Nations, and ensuring information sharing respects First Nations data sovereignty.”

The AMC also says a time limit must be set for the existing provincial system, and a transition plan should be developed jointly by First Nations Leadership and the province.

The AMC-FNFAO is committed to working with all levels of government to ensure the successful implementation of First Nations jurisdiction, paving the way for a future where First Nations children are cared for within their Nations and culture, ensuring their right to a bright and hopeful future.

For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 172,000 First Nations citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anisininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.