The Other Side of the Door: A Practice Guide for Child Welfare Professionals working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples

Canadian CW report

Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS)


Toronto, ON: Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies.


In 2012-13, OACAS undertook a review of the Child Welfare Professional series of trainingcurricula, with the purposes of identifying and strengthening training content relatedto working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNIM) families. Based on the review, theOACAS endeavoured to create a Practice Guide that child welfare professionals would beencouraged to read within one month of employment at a children’s aid society.

The objectives of the practice guide are that child welfare professionals will:

  • Be sensitized to the history of colonization within child welfare
  • Understand the requirements of child welfare practice when working with FNIM families and communities
  • Be better prepared to fulfill their unique obligations under the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) with respect to child welfare practice and providing services to FNIM families

While the information presented in this practice guide is intended to steer you toward enhanced and more effective practice, there is no one-size-fits-all approach in serving FNIM families.

For some, reading this guide may represent a first step in a continuing journey of learning about child welfare practice. In order to be a reflective and responsible child welfare practitioner, it is your duty to further your learning by making connections with the FNIM community nearest you.

As of 2011, there are 206 FNIM communities in Ontario (Government of Canada, 2011). Every FNIM community has its own rich history and complex story. In recognition of the fact that FNIM communities are diverse, evolving, and ever-changing, this practice guide contains a broad historical background of interactions between child welfare, FNIM communities and the governments of the day.

You are encouraged to speak directly with the band representatives (for First Nations) and elders to learn more about the local FNIM community’s specific history.