AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas calls out the Province of Manitoba on their idea of meaningful consultation with First Nations on CFS Reform

March 20, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba


For Immediate Release
March 20, 2018

Treaty One Territory _ In response to the Province of Manitoba’s slate of unilateral reform initiatives, one which yesterday was ceremoniously announced at the Manitoba Legislature and another one that was on the Order Paper but was not introduced, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Arlen Dumas called on the Province to stop its divisive and disingenuous approach to First Nations Child and Family Services reform and meaningfully consult with Manitoba First Nations and work together to respect First Nations jurisdiction.

On the second day of a two-day emergency meeting of the AMC to discuss First Nations child and family services, Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said, “The discussion of the AMC leadership has been candid, passionate and well-meaning on how to go forward in unity with the reform of First Nation CFS. This includes working together on the AMC – Canada MOU that will reassert First Nations jurisdiction in the area of child welfare. Yet, yesterday we learnt of two Bills that the government of Manitoba drafted without true consultation with Manitoba First Nations.”

In December 2017 the AMC Executive Council of Chiefs passed a resolution opposing the Province of Manitoba’s Child Welfare System Reform, which includes provincially legislating customary care and promoting permanent guardianship. According to yesterday’s Manitoba Legislature Order Paper, Manitoba Families Minister introduced legislative changes for customary care (Bill No. 18 – The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Taking Care of Our Children)). The AMC received information that Manitoba “engaged” on customary care with provincially mandated Agencies and Authorities, Métis and Inuit organizations, and two regional Manitoba First Nation Provincial and Territorial Organizations.

Grand Chief Dumas said “I encourage Manitoba to meaningfully consult, accommodate and obtain consent and ensure that any reform reflects First Nation’s approach to CFS program and services by first and foremost respecting First Nation’s inherent jurisdiction. You will find First Nations, of course, support customary care but under our own jurisdiction, not the Province of Manitoba. However, in Manitoba’sannouncement, it has shown that it fundamentally disagrees with First Nations exerting their own jurisdiction, as it claims that the Manitoba Child and Family Services Act must be amended in order for

First Nations’ customary care to happen. This just simply is not the case as our customs and traditions cannot, should, and will not be provincially legislated.”

The March 19, 2018, Manitoba Legislature Order Paper also included legislative changes for incentivized guardianship (Bill No. 2 – The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Guardianship Support)).

“Again, there is no evidence the Province of Manitoba meaningfully consulted with First Nations. If the Province of Manitoba meaningfully consulted, they would find that First Nations may not necessarily be adverse to permanent guardianship for First Nations to look after First Nations. But certainly not support incentivized permanent guardianship of our children to non-First Nations,” said Grand Chief Dumas.

“The Province of Manitoba should stop pursuing its unilateral agenda. It should meaningfully consult with First Nations, and in any CFS legislative amendments, it should respect First Nations jurisdiction. Better yet, I call on the Premier and Minister Fielding to join Canada and the AMC in discussion how through our MOU we can work together on the development a First Nation child welfare system.”