UNDRIP Action Plan addresses Indigenous child and family services

This article was prepared with the assistance of summer law student Alyssa Cratty.

The Government of Canada’s Action Plan to advance the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples includes two priorities related to Indigenous child and family services (“CFS”).

In a previous blog post, we discussed Canada’s priorities related to Indigenous peoples’ inherent right to self-determination and inherent right of self-government. This blog will focus on the priorities identified in the Action Plan related specifically to CFS.

CFS Priorities in the Action Plan

Canada recognizes in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act that all relations with Indigenous peoples must be based on the recognition and implementation of their inherent right to self-determination, including the right of self-government. The Action Plan highlights the following two measures relating to those inherent rights in the context of the delivery of CFS to First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families:

  1. Canada will continue to implement An Act respecting First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, youth and families (“Bill C-92”) which affirms the inherent right of self-government, including jurisdiction in relation to CFS, and sets minimum standards in relation to the delivery of culturally appropriate and Indigenous led services with the aim to reduce the number of Indigenous children in care and ensure they stay connected to their families, communities, and cultures (Shared Priorities, measure 29).
  2. Consistent with the commitment to co-develop approaches for the implementation of Bill C-92 that affirm rights to self-determination and jurisdiction, Canada will collaborate with provincial and territorial governments to seek to ensure that policies, practices and approaches taken to implement Bill C-92 uphold the inherent Métis right to self-determination, and rights of children, youth and their families affirmed in UNDRIP by advancing substantive equality for Métis-specific priorities and principles, including sustainable and predictable funding, Métis Data Sovereignty and Métis social determinants of wellbeing (Métis Priorities, measure 5).

The Action Plan also addresses culturally competent early learning and child care for Indigenous children:

  1. Canada will continue to advance and support self-determination in the provision of culturally competent early learning and child care for Indigenous children, through the co-developed Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework and dedicated federal investments to support its implementation. Canada will continue to provide sustainable funding for self-determined early learning and child care services in Indigenous communities that emphasize Indigenous language and culture to support Indigenous youth’s early-age language development in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous language keepers (Shared Priorities, measure 103).

The Action Plan is not intended to be a static document; rather, it is an evergreen roadmap and will continue to evolve over time.

CFS Laws, Coordination Agreements and Funding

In a previous blog post, we discuss how Bill C-92 affirms the inherent right of Indigenous communities to make and administer their own CFS laws and explain what coordination agreements are. We also explain the funding available to Indigenous communities to support their CFS journey, including funding to make a CFS law, develop programs and policies and participate in coordination agreement negotiations.

For more information on the Action Plan and what implications it may have for your community, please contact the lawyers in our Indigenous practice area who would be pleased to assist. We also have a team of lawyers with experience with CFS matters. We can assist Indigenous communities at all stages of taking back control over CFS, including drafting CFS laws and negotiating coordination agreements.