Yesterday, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services; the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; and Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, met with Indigenous, provincial and territorial partners from across the country to discuss progress on the implementation of An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families. The Act affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to exercise jurisdiction in relation to child and family services for their communities. It also establishes guiding principles, including the best interests of the child, cultural continuity and substantive equality, to guide the provision of child and family services in relation to Indigenous children. It responds to the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action and to the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and supports the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The meeting provided an opportunity for partners to share their perspectives on the implementation of the Act, which came into effect on January 1, 2020. Chief Cadmus Delorme from Cowessess First Nation, Samuel Dyck and Piers Kreps from Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, and Al Benoit from the Manitoba Métis Federation spoke about their experiences and lessons learned from working toward the exercise of Indigenous jurisdiction over child and family services. Additionally, the Government of Canada outlined its approach to the implementation of the Act and its intentions for strong collaboration with Indigenous, provincial and territorial partners moving forward. A discussion to identify key issues and the best way forward concluded the meeting.
This meeting follows Deputy Minister and Technician-level meetings held earlier this year. We will continue to work together at the national and regional levels and through bilateral, tripartite and distinctions-based working groups to support Indigenous communities in preparing for the exercise of jurisdiction over child and family services so that all Indigenous children have the opportunity to grow up in their communities immersed in their culture and surrounded by their loved ones.
The Government of Canada continues to support Indigenous-led initiatives to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis in taking control of child and family services, with the goal of keeping their children and youth connected to their families, communities and culture.