The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says reducing child welfare numbers not sufficient, want children returned to families and Nations

Young child holding a parent's hand

September 26, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba



In a September 25, 2018, media release, the provincial government lauded its child welfare reform plans while reporting 386 less children in CFS care from March 31, 2017, to March 31, 2018.

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) said, “A reduction for the first time in 15 years—that’s great. But let’s make sure our children are going home to families and Nations and not simply being counted differently to artificially reduce numbers and definitely not by clearing the books through permanency initiatives when we know most of our children are in non-kin and non-Indigenous placements.”

In its media release, the province speaks to developing new strategies and solutions to support prevention, safe family preservation and reunification. However, the provincial government:

  • unilaterally amended the CFS Standards Manual, changing Standard 1.5.6 so short-term caregivers have the right to prevent the removal of children from their care by allowing access to the Foster Parents Appeal process one week prior to their Customary Care act receiving Royal Assent;
  • tried to make block funding mandatory with the caveat that First Nations CFS agencies agree to provincial government clawback of Children’s Special Allowance; and
  • introduced subsidized guardianship, knowing that many of our children are in non-kin and non-Indigenous placements.

“The CFS system requires real reform—a return of jurisdiction to First Nations over our child and family matters. This is not something the province supports, and it’s clear from their reform initiatives that they aren’t truly interested in working to reunify our children with their families and Nations,” Grand Chief Dumas said.

The province’s child welfare reform plans were not initiated until October 2017—well past the period that saw 386 children in CFS care returned home.

“It’s unfortunate the Province of Manitoba failed to mention the work of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the First Nations Family Advocate Office in reference to the hard work being done to reunify families. The Advocate Office is a Manitoba Chiefs’ response to the CFS crisis in Manitoba, and we work to empower First Nations children and families towards reunification,” said Grand Chief Dumas.

“The provincial government received the AMC’s Bringing Our Children Home proposal in 2014 when the office first opened; there was never a genuine interest in following the recommendations and in empowering First Nations in the work that needs to be done. Now, they want the credit for 386 children returned home when it is clearly a grassroots movement bringing our children home,” stated Cora Morgan, the First Nations Family Advocate. “We are doing some great work, sending almost 400 children home to their parents, families and Nations. It’s time for our First Nations to work in unity to assert our jurisdiction over our own children, and bring them home permanently.”