Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders in child welfare gathered in Niagara Falls in October 2005 at a historic event, entitled Reconciliation: Looking Back, Reaching Forward –Indigenous Peoples and Child Welfare. The collective belief that child welfare can, and must, do better for Indigenous children, youth, and their families was the creative force behind this event. Using the analogy of a journey down the river, the profession courageously reached within itself to look at what aspects of child welfare worked for, and against, the well-being of Indigenous children and youth. Participants talked openly about the history of child welfare from both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives, exploring the values and beliefs that shaped the path the river has taken before identifying the touchstones necessary to build a foundation for an improved child welfare system.
This document draws from the rich conversations of the participants at the reconciliation event to describe why reconciliation in child welfare is needed, what reconciliation can mean in the context of child welfare, and to identify key values (touchstones) to guide reconciliation in child welfare.