Almost two weeks ago, National Grand Chief Bellegarde demanded the Quebec Government not take action against the Indigenous Child Welfare Act, they declined. The Government of Quebec does not see the merit of having Indigenous people in charge of Indigenous children.
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the Government of Quebec’s decision to request that the Quebec Court of Appeal rule on the constitutionality of Bill C-92, the Indigenous child welfare act, is a setback that will further harm First Nations children and families.
“Thousands of First Nations children are suffering in Canada’s discriminatory child welfare system and our energy and efforts should be directed towards the best interests of the child,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “I strongly urge the Government of Quebec to reconsider this legal action. This move could lead to delay and conflict, further harming our children and families. The AFN will look to intervene in this case and we expect the federal government to stand with us in upholding First Nations jurisdiction. We need urgent action to address the discrimination and the legacy of our children taken from their families and Nations. Bill C-92 affirms First Nations jurisdiction over child welfare and that’s what we need to move forward in a good way. We are on the threshold of a new era of hope and opportunity for our children and we do not want to be held back by legal and political maneuvering.”
Bill C-92, an Act concerning First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families, comes into effect on January 1, 2020. The Bill was developed with direction from AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly and input by the AFN legislative working group comprised of technicians and experts from across the country drawing on years of advocacy and direction. The legislation affirms First Nations jurisdiction and creates space for First Nations laws and practices regarding their families. It respects rights and is consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Bill C-92 sets out key principles that prevent children from being removed from their homes unnecessarily, promotes children staying in their communities and Nations, and ensures the “best interests of the child” principle is understood and applied.