AMC Demands Examination of Child Welfare System Following Tragic Loss of Children in Care

March 7, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba ­­– The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Cathy Merrick expresses condolences to the families that have been impacted by the tragic losses of their children in recent months and is urgently calling on the Manitoba government to undertake a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding multiple tragic deaths of children in care.

In the past three months, it was announced that six First Nations children and youth lost their lives while involved with the Child and Family Services (CFS) system. An infant and two 14-year-old females in December 2023, as well as two infants and a 17-year-old female in February 2024.

“The impact of these losses is felt by all Nations and reminds us of our shared responsibility to protect and nurture our children. Each young life lost represents not just an individual tragedy but a collective wound felt deeply by First Nations Peoples. Their lives, cut short in circumstances that demand answers, speak to the broader systemic issues that continue to plague our First Nations.”

The AMC acknowledges Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine for initiating a review into the death of 17-year-old Myah-Lee Gratton, who was a youth in care when she was killed last month.

The AMC also acknowledges the efforts of Liberal MLA Cindy Lamoureux and Progressive Conservative MLA Lauren Stone in raising the motion for an urgent debate on the safety of children in care at Wednesday’s assembly. While their motion was rejected, it underscores the pressing need for action to prevent further tragedies.

Myah-Lee Gratton’s case is particularly distressing, as she had reached out to her CFS worker pleading for relocation due to safety concerns, yet tragically lost her life along with three other children under her cousin’s care.

The AMC emphasizes that this incident is symptomatic of systemic issues within the child welfare system that require immediate attention.

Grand Chief Merrick states, “Efforts to dismantle and decolonize the child welfare system, as articulated by Minister Fontaine, must be accelerated. First Nations Leadership must be empowered to take full control of the care and protection of First Nations children. Every child deserves to grow up in a safe and loving environment, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that this inherent right is upheld.”

The AMC stands ready to collaborate with the Manitoba government and First Nations Leadership to address the systemic issues plaguing the child welfare system.

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.