First Nations Child Welfare in Manitoba (2011)

Author(s): 
Anna Kozlowski, Vandna Sinha, Tara Petti, & Elsie Flette

This information sheet presents an overview of the current structure of First Nations child welfare in Manitoba as it was in 2011. It builds on work done for the First Nations component of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (FNCIS-2008), a collaboration between university researchers and representatives of major Aboriginal child welfare organizations, to analyze, contextualize and disseminate research investigations involving First Nations children included in the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and neglect (Sinha, et al., 2011). Basic information about the structure of First Nations child welfare was compiled in order to contextualize FNCIS-2008 findings. FNCIS-2008 advisory committee members completed 2-page information sheets consisting of closed and open-ended questions about the historical trajectories, umbrella/support organizations, legislative/policy frameworks, funding models, and scope of First Nations child welfare agencies in their jurisdictions. Research team members followed up by collecting and reviewing government documents, child welfare legislation, court documents and research reports in order to verify, refine, and provide formal references for the information provided by committee members.


In 2006, there were 100,640 First Nation people in Manitoba; they represented 14.4% of the total First Nations population in Canada and 8.9% of the Manitoba population (Statistics Canada, 2006). First Nations children constituted 15.7% of the child population (ages 0-19) in Manitoba; an additional 7.7% of the child population was non-First Nations Aboriginal (Statistics Canada, 2006).1 There were also 71,805 Métis people, 18.4% of the total Métis population in Canada, residing in Manitoba (Statistics Canada, 2006). Aboriginal children are overrepresented among children in out-of-home care in Manitoba (see Appendix 1 for details of out-of-home care typology); 85% of all children in the care of Manitoba’s Department of Family Services and Labor on March 31, 2006 were Aboriginal, 70% were First Nations and 9% were Métis (Manitoba Family Services and Housing, 2006).2

First Nations communities in Manitoba have long worked to re-gain control over child welfare practices related to their children. The results of their efforts are demonstrated by the 1991 Aboriginal Justice Inquiry – Child Welfare Report which led to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry - Child Welfare Initiative (AJI-CWI) in 2000.  The AJI-CWI restructured Manitoba’s child welfare system into four child welfare authorities in 2000; two First Nations specific child welfare authorities, a Métis authority (which serves the Métis Nation and Inuit Homelands population), and a General Authority. The Manitoba structure prioritizes culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal children and families. It requires that intake workers determine the most culturally appropriate CFS authority to oversee provision of ongoing services. It provides families with greater choice in which agency to receive services from than before. It also integrates Aboriginal specific services through the child welfare system (see current structure section below for more detail). There are sixteen First Nations child welfare agencies in Manitoba, including Child and Family All Nations Coordinated Response Network (ANCR). ANCR is located in Winnipeg, a city which has one of the largest metropolitan Aboriginal populations in Canada; 68,380 people (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, 2012), or 10% of the total Winnipeg population, and is the only Aboriginal agency in Canada to serve both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families of a major metropolitan area (Statistics Canada, 2006). The agency attempts to meet the needs of families it serves through an approach which emphasizes culturally appropriate services and involves Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal representatives on the Board of Directors (Child and Family All Nations Coordinated Response Network, n.d.).

The History of the First Nations Child Welfare System in Manitoba

Manitoba shares a common national history with other provinces in regards to the development of First Nations child welfare. Residential schools served as the primary mechanism of First Nations child welfare in Canada between 1879 and 1946 (Milloy, 1999). During this period, the Canadian government’s policy was to attempt to assimilate Aboriginal peoples into Anglo-European culture by separating Aboriginal children from their families and placing them in residential schools. Residential schools were also the institutions which provided state care for First Nations children who were found to be abused or neglected in their homes. In 1920 an amendment to the Indian Act made attendance at designated state sponsored (day, residential, institutional) schools mandatory for all children “between the ages of seven and fifteen years” who were physically able to attend (An Act to amend the Indian Act, 1920, A10). It also allowed truant officers to enforce attendance, giving them the right to, “enter any place where he has reason to believe there are Indian children” of school age and to arrest and convey to school truant children (An Act to amend the Indian Act, 1920, A10). In Manitoba there were seventeen residential schools operating between 1886 and 1980 (Assembly of First Nations, 2010).

In 1951, the introduction of Section 88 to the Indian Act made “all laws of general application from time to time in force in any province applicable to and in respect of Indians in the province” (Indian Act, s.88, c.9, s.151, 1985). Section 88 made it possible to enforce provincial child welfare legislation on-reserve. Before the intrduction of Section 88, First Nations Bands in northern Manitoba were provided some child welfare services by the Department of Indian Affairs; in emergency situations the provincial government provided services by way of RCMP involvement (Manitoba, Hamilton, & Sinclair, 1991). In 1966, fourteen First Nations Bands in southern Manitoba were provided child welfare services by "existing Children’s Aid Societies of Central, Eastern and Western Manitoba" because of a federal-provincial agreement in 1966 (Manitoba, Hamilton, & Sinclair, 1991, ch.14, s.6). In northern Manitoba, in 1979 a court decision by Judge Garson in Little Grand Rapids stating that child welfare law "makes it obligatory that the Province of Manitoba provide the same social and child care services under the Child Welfare Act, to Treaty Indians resident in Manitoba as other residents of the Province receive", allowed for the apprehension of First Nations children by provincial child welfare workers (Manitoba, Sigurdson, Reid, Onysko, Rodgers & Prefontaine, 1987, p.190-191). Similarly throughout Canada during thes time, provincial child welfare authorities began to apprehend Aboriginal children living on-reserve; this resulted in a sharp increase of First Nations children placed in care (Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996). By 1979, 30% of all children placed in out-of-home care in Manitoba were of Aboriginal heritage and by 1981 50% of children placed for adoption were of Aboriginal heritage (Johnston, 1983). Manitoba was the last province to permit adoptions of children outside of Canada, and nearly one quarter of all Aboriginal adoptees in 1980 were placed with American families (Johnston, 1983). In 1982, the province of Manitoba placed a moratorium on out-of-province adoptions of Aboriginal children and appointed Chief Judge Edwin C. Kimelman to lead a public inquiry into the high rates of international adoptions of Aboriginal children in Manitoba (Manitoba, Hamilton, & Sinclair, 1991). Justice Kimelman made numerous recommendations aimed at preventing out-of-province adoption and recognizing a child's connection to their Aboriginal culture as in the best interest of that child; these recommendations included measures that continue to be implemented in the Manitoba child welfare system (Manitoba, Hamilton, & Sinclair, 1991).

Starting in the early 1980s First Nations communities in Manitoba began providing on-reserve child welfare services (McKenzie & Wharf, 2010). The federal, provincial and Band governments signed the 1982 Master Agreement, a tripartite agreement that established guiding principles and obligations for Aboriginal child welfare services in Manitoba and specified governmental funding obligations (Manitoba, Hamilton, & Sinclair, 1991). Between 1981 and 1991 seventeen First Nations child welfare agencies were formed, with the Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services being the first mandated/delegated First Nations child welfare agency in Manitoba (Manitoba, Hamilton, & Sinclair, 1991). In 1988, the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (AJI) was initiated by First Nations groups and the Manitoba government in order to examine the relationship between Aboriginal peoples in Manitoba and the administration of justice. Over 1,200 hearings were held in 123 days with Aboriginal peoples across Manitoba; the inquiry produced a three volume report containing 296 recommendations. The report included statements about the inadequacy of child welfare services for Aboriginal children and families as well as acknowledgement of advances made by the Manitoba government since the Kimelman inquiry (Manitoba, Hamilton, & Sinclair, 1991). However, it also highlighted important limits on the resources and supports provided to Aboriginal child welfare agencies and the provision of culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal children and families. The AJI report made several recommendations for major changes in Manitoba’s child welfare system (Manitoba, Hamilton, & Sinclair, 1991, v.1, ch. 14). In response to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, the Manitoba government in partnership with Aboriginal leadership established the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry – Child Welfare Initiative in 2000; which led to the restructuring of the Manitoba child welfare system.

The Current Structure of First Nations Child Welfare in Manitoba (2011)

Currently there are sixteen First Nations child welfare agencies and one Métis child welfare agency in Manitoba. All Manitoba child welfare agencies are tied to the same legislative and policy framework: the Child and Family Services Act and the Child and Family Services Authorities Act. The Child and Family Services Act contains some special consideration for Aboriginal children, such as the requirement that a designated representative of a child’s band or Aboriginal community be notified of court hearings involving that child (Child and Family Services Act, 2009; McKenzie & Wharf, 2010). In addition, it states that “Indian bands are entitled to the provision of child and family services in a manner which respects their unique status as aboriginal peoples” and that agencies should “provide services which respect the cultural and linguistic heritage of families and children” (Child and Family Services Act, 2009, Declaration of Principles).

The Child and Family Services Authorities Act (2008) is intended to ensure that culturally appropriate services are available and delivered to Aboriginal communities in Manitoba. Child welfare agencies are overseen by four regional authorities, which were introduced through the Child and Family Services Authorities Act (McKenzie & Wharf, 2010). Two of the four regional authorities are First Nations, one is Metis and the other is non-Aboriginal. Each Authority has operates throughout the province but oversees child welfare agencies within a specific region of Manitoba. Eighteen designated intake agencies conduct intake investigations determining whether a child welfare case should be transferred to a child welfare agency for ongoing services or to be closed; these include fourteen First Nations agencies and one Métis agency (Child and Family Services Authorities Act, 2008). If the case is to remain open, the intake worker conducts an authority determination protocol, which includes determination of the culturally appropriate child welfare authority and consultation with the client to facilitate their selection of an agency from which to receive ongoing services (Manitoba Family Services and Housing Child Protection Branch, 2009). In addition, child welfare authorities are required to ensure “culturally appropriate standards”, “cooperate with other authorities”, advise child welfare agencies and the Ministry of Child and Family Services, and ensure service development (Manitoba Child and Family Services Authorities Act, 2008, Section 19).

Until 2011, First Nations child welfare agencies received funding under the term of Indian and Norther Affairs Canada's (INAC)3 national formula, Directive 20-1 (INAC, 2007), which provides operations funding based on the child population size and covers maintenance costs for children placed in out of home care (MacDonald & Ladd, 2000). Directive 20-1 has been criticized for under-funding administrative and child maintenance services for First Nations children, failing to fund preventative or support services for families of children who are not in-care, and contributing to jurisdictional disputes which compromise the quality and efficiency of services for First Nations children (Blackstock, Prakash, Loxley, & Wien, 2005; INAC, 2007b; MacDonald & Ladd, 2000). In July 2010 INAC announced that Manitoba will move to a “Enhanced prevention focused funding” formula by 2011 (INAC, 2010b). The “Enhanced Prevention-Focused” formula consists of maintenance, operational, and prevention funds. Maintenance funds are meant to cover costs of each child in care, operational funds are intended to cover administrative costs and prevention funding is for child maltreatment prevention programs (Government of Canada, 2009; Johnston, 2009). The “Enhanced Prevention Focused Funding” model addresses some key criticisms of Directive 20-1: it provides increased funding (Auditor General of Canada, 2008; INAC, 2010b), specifically targets funds for prevention, and allows agencies increased flexibility in using funds (Government of Canada, 2009; Johnston, 2009). Indeed, AANDC projects that Manitoba will receive $177 million dollars for implementation of the new model between 2010 and 2015 (INAC, 2010b).

Still, as the Auditor General of Canada (2008) has noted, some of the flaws identified in Directive 20-1 (McDonald & Ladd, 2000) are reproduced in the new funding model. Operations costs continue to be partially based on an assumed average rate of out of home placements rather than actual agency expenses (House Standing Committee on Public Accounts 2010, Auditor General of Canada 2008) and there does not appear to be a formal mechanism for linking AANDC funding levels to the shifting responsibilities mandated by provinces/territories (Government of Canada, 2009; Johnston, 2010). In addition, in contrast to Directive 20-1, which covered actual maintenance expenses for children in out of home care, the new model designates a block of maintenance funds based on agency maintenance costs during the preceding year (Government of Canada, 2009). This block funding mechanism does not include a formal mechanism for covering costs associated with the maintenance of children with particularly complex special needs, or the other factors which AANDC identifies as driving a doubling of maintenance costs over the last decade (INAC, 2010b). Thus, the full impact of the shift in funding models for First Nations agencies in Manitoba is yet to be assessed and understood.

Table 1: First Nations and Métis Designated Intake Agencies in Manitoba in 2011 *,**
 

Agency On-Reserve and Off-Reserve Communities served (initial investigation and intake services only)
Anishinaabe Child & Family Services, Inc Dauphin River First Nation, Lake Manitoba First Nation, Lake St. Martin First Nation, Little Saskatchewan First Nation and Pinaymootang First Nation (formerly Fairford)
Awasis Agency Barren Lands, Cross Lake, War Lake (formerly Ilford), God's Lake First Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation (formerly Split Lake), Northlands, Bunibonibee Cree Nation (formerly Oxford House), Sayisi Dene (formerly Churchill), Fox Lake First Nation, Manto Sipi Cree Nation (formerly God's River), York Factory and Shamattawa First Nation, Cross Lake First Nation***
Child and Family All Nations Coordinated Response Network Child and Family All Nations Coordinated Response Network is the designated agency to provide joint intake and emergency services within The City of Winnipeg and the R.M.s of Headingley, East St. Paul and West St. Paul
Cree Nation Child & Family Caring Agency Mathias Colomb First Nation and Marcel Colomb First Nation, Chemawawin Cree Nation (formerly Easterville), Grand Rapids First Nation, Mosakahiken Cree Nation (formerly Moose Lake) and Opaskwayak Cree Nation (formerly The Pas), The reserves of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation (formerly Shoal River) and Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation (formerly Indian Birch).
Dakota Ojibway Child & Family Services Birdtail Sioux First Nation, Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation (formerly Oak Lake Sioux), Dakota Plains First Nation, Long Plain First Nation, Roseau River First Nation Government (formerly Roseau River), Sioux Valley Dakota Nation (formerly Sioux Valley) and Swan Lake First Nation
Intertribal Child & Family Services, Inc Fisher River First Nation, Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation (formerly Jackhead), Dakota Tipi First Nation
Island Lake First Nation Family Services Garden Hill First Nation, Wasagamack First Nation, St. Theresa Point First Nation and Red Sucker Lake First Nation
Kinosao Sipi Minosowin Norway House Cree Nation
Michif Child & Family Services Agency Western boundary of the Province of Manitoba and the Northern limit of the R.M. of Russell and Silver Creek. Eastern limit of the R.M. of Rossburn and the southern limit of Ebb and Flow Lake
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Family and Community Services North of the Northern limit of Township 46, except within the geographic regions where the following agencies are designated under this regulation to provide these services: (a) Awasis Agency of Northern Manitoba; (b) Churchill Child and Family Services; (c) Cree Nation Child and Family Caring Agency; (d) Island Lake First Nations Family Services; (e) Kinosao Sipi Minisowin Agency
Peguis Child and Family Services Peguis First Nation
Sagkeeng Child & Family Services, Inc Sagkeeng First Nation (formerly Fort Alexander)
Sandy Bay CFS Inc Sandy Bay
Southeast Child & Family Services, Inc Berens River First Nation, Bloodvein First Nation, Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (formerly Brokenhead), Buffalo Point First Nation, Hollow Water First Nation, Little Black River First Nation, Little Grand Rapids First Nation, Pauingassi First Nation and Poplar River First Nation
West Region Child & Family Services, Inc Ebb and Flow First Nation, Gamblers First Nation, Keeseekoowenin First Nation, O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation (formerly Crane River), Pine Creek First Nation, Rolling River First Nation, Skownan First Nation (formerly Waterhen), Tootinaowaziibeeng Treaty Reserve (formerly Valley River), and Waywayseecappo First Nation

* Details of initial investigation and intake services geographic boundaries are taken from the Child and Family Services Authorities Act, C.C.S.M. c. C90.

** There are two additional First Nations agencies, Opaskwayak Cree Nation Child and Family Services and Animikii Ozoson Child and Family Services, which provide post-intake services.

*** This table is based on agencies in existence in March 2011. Since late 2011, Cross Lake First Nation has been served by the newly formed, Nikan Awasisak Child and Family Service Agency.
 

References:

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. (2010). Better outcomes for First Nations children: INAC’s role as a funder in First Nations child and family services. Updated: July 2010. Retrieved from http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/hb/sp/fncf/cfsd-eng.asp.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. (2012). Search by Reserve/Settlement/Village. Retrieved from http://pse5-esd5.ainc-inac.gc.ca/fnp/Main/Search/SearchRV.aspx?lang=eng.

An Act to Amend the Indian Act, A10 C.F.R. (1920).

Assembly of First Nations. (2010). History of Indian Residential Schools. Retrieved from http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/indian-residential-schools-unit.

Auditor General of Canada. (2008). Chapter 4—First Nations child and family services program—Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. In Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons. Ottawa:ON: Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

Blackstock, C., Prakash, T, Loxley, J, & Wien, F. (2005). Summary of findings. In. First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (Ed.), Wen:de Coming to the light of day. Retrieved from http://www.fncaringsociety.com/publications/fncfcs/.

Child and Family All Nations Coordinated Response Network. (n.d.). History. Retrieved from www.ancr.ca/history.php.

Child and Family Services Act, R.S.M (2009).

Child and Family Services Authority Act, C.C.S.M. c. C90 C.F.R. (2008).

Constitution Act, (UK), 1982, c 11 C.F.R. (1982).

Government of Canada. (2009). Government of Canada response to the report of the standing committee on public accounts on Chapter 4, First Nations Child and Family Services Program - Indian and Northern Affairs Canada of the May 2008 report of the auditor general. Retrieved from http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?language=E&Mode=1&Parl=40&Ses=2&DocId=4017684&File=0.

House Standing Committee on Public Accounts. (2010). Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on "Chapter 4, First Nations Child and Family Services Program – Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, of the May 2008 Report of the Auditor General". Ottawa: ON: Government of Canada.

Indian Act R.S. c.I-5 C.F.R. (1985).

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Departmental Audit and Evaluation Branch (2007). Evaluation of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program. Retrieved from http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/aiarch/arp/aev/pubs/ev/06-07/0607-eng.asp.

Johnston, O. (December 20, 2009). Affidavit. First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and Assembly of First Nations v. The Attorney General of Canada Representing the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. City of Ottawa.

Johnston, O. (February 26, 2010). Cross Examination by Mr.Champ: First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and Assembly of First Nations v. The Attorney General of Canada representing the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. City of Ottawa.

Johnston, P. (1983). Native children and the child welfare system. Toronto: James Lorimer and Company.

Manitoba, Child Abuse Review Team, Sigurdson, E., & Reid, G., Onysko, R., Rodgers, J. & Prefontaine, J. (1987). External Review Into Matters Relating to the System of Dealing with Child Abuse in Winnipeg: Final Report. Winnipeg, Man.: Manitoba Community Services. 

Manitoba, Hamilton, A. C., & Sinclair, C. M. (1991). Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba. Winnipeg, Man.: Public Inquiry into the Administration of Justice and Aboriginal People.

Manitoba Family Services and Housing Child Protection Branch. (2008). Places of Safety. Retrieved from http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/cfsmanual/1.4.2.html#A6.

Manitoba Family Services and Housing Child Protection Branch. (2009). Agency Standards, vol.1, C.1, S.1. Retrieved from http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/cfsmanual/1.1.1.html#s20.

Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing. (2006). Annual Report 2005-2006. Retrieved from http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/about/annual_reports.html#B1.

Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing. (2009). Annual report. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing, Retrieved from http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/about/annual_reports/2008-09/FSH_Annual_Report_08_09_en.pdf.

McDonald, N., & Ladd, P. (2000). First Nations Child and Family Services Joint National Policy Review: Final Report. Ottawa: Prepared for the Assembly of First Nations with First Nations Child and Family Service Agency Representatives in Partnership with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

McKenzie, B.D, & Wharf, Brian. (2010). Connecting policy to practice in the human services. Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press.

Milloy, J.S. . (1999). A national crime: the Canadian government and the residential school system, 1879 to 1986. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. (1996). The report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Ottawa, Ont.: Libraxus Inc.

Statistics Canada. (2006). Aboriginal Peoples in Canada in 2006: Inuit, Métis and First Nations, 2006 Census. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/dp-pd/hlt/97-558/index.cfm?Lang=E.


Appendix 1: Out-of-Home Placement

Out of all children in out-of-home care in 2006 defined in the Child and Family Services Act as "a home other than the home of a parent or guardian of a child, in which the child is placed by an agency for care and supervision, but not for adoption”, 7% (445) were placed in residential care (including “private group homes, own-agency group homes, and residential treatment centres”), 1% (46) of children were placed under selected adoption probation, 7% (437) were placed in other non-pay care living arrangements (including youth centres, hospitals and other facilities), and 23% (1,538) of children were placed in resources other than the ones mentioned (including places of safety) (Manitoba Ministry of Family Services and Housing, 2006, p. 88). Places of safety within this context refer to family residences including “homes of relatives, friends and community members”, designated agency staff residences, rooms and apartments, family violence prevention facilities, detention and correction facilities and hospitals (Manitoba Family Services and Housing Child Protection Branch, 2008, p. 3).
 

  • 1. There are three groups of Aboriginal peoples in Canada recognized by the Constitution Act (1982): First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.
  • 2. Out of home care data (See Appednix 1 for out of home placement defintion) includes an unknown number of children who are in the care of kin (see Appendix 1 for details). The data presented in this chart reflect the number of children (ages 0-18) in out-of-home care (Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing, 2006) and child population (ages 0-19) (Statistics Canada, 2006). In 2009 Aboriginal children made up 86% of all children in care in Manitoba (Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing, 2009).
  • 3. As of May 2011, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), changed its name to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).
About the Authors: 

Anna Kozlowski is a Ph.D student in the school of social work at McGill University.

Vandna Sinha is an assistant professor at the Centre for Research on Children and Families, McGill University.

Tara Petti is the director of Vision Keepers at the Southern First Nations Network of Care in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Elsie Flette is the chief executive officer of the Southern First Nations Network of Care in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Both Tara Petti and Elsie Flette are also advisory committee members for the First Nations Component of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect 2008 (FNCIS-2008).

Suggested Citation: 

CWRP Information Sheet #97E. (2012). Montreal, QC: McGill University, Centre for Research on Children and Families.