AMC – FNFAO Says Comments from NDP MLA Should not Distract from First Nations’ Progress in Child Welfare

April 30, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs’ First Nations Family Advocate Office (AMC-FNFAO) says comments made during a legislative affairs meeting should not distract from the important achievements of First Nations in reclaiming jurisdiction over child welfare.

It came to the attention of the AMC-FNFAO that former Councillor of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, and current NDP MLA for The Pas-Kameesak, Amanda Lathlin, cited her experience as a foster parent as the basis of her concerns of First Nations assuming authority over child welfare when meeting to review the province’s Advocate for Children and Youth Act. The AMC-FNFAO believes these comments do not coincide with the decades of work by First Nations leaders in Manitoba to reclaim their inherent right to care for their children and families.

“The narrative that First Nations are not ready to assume jurisdiction of child welfare is exactly what the process of colonization wanted First Nations to believe about ourselves,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “The overrepresentation of First Nations children in the child and family services (CFS) system proves the failures of the current structure to meet the needs of our children and youth.”

Grand Chief Merrick acknowledges the commitment from the province to decolonize the child welfare system, but First Nations recognize that does not go far enough. “With more than 30 years of work to restore jurisdiction through First Nations-led engagement, reports and recommendations, and mandates to help guide and carry out the work, the AMC-FNFAO is uniquely positioned to support the implementation of jurisdiction and First Nations child wellbeing laws, policies, and standards. We would like to remind all sitting members of the Manitoba legislature that the AMC-FNFAO is a mechanism created by First Nations leadership in Manitoba that is designed to operate outside of the Child Welfare system to support and advocate for children and families involved with Child and Family Services (CFS).

“The path to healing for our children and our Nations begins with restoring our inherent right to self-determination. The AMC-FNFAO is prepared to work with each Nation, their leadership, and government entities while First Nations rightfully assume jurisdiction over our children and families.  We offer an opportunity for MLA Lathlin to sit with our Elders to learn about the work we are doing and how she can lend her advocacy to that work,” concluded Grand Chief Merrick.

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.