The Indigenous commitments are connected to the historical injustices perpetrated against First Nation, Inuit, and Métis (FNIM) communities by the Canadian government and Provincial child welfare systems, including residential schools and the Sixties Scoop.
These colonial legacies have resulted in community impairment, intergenerational trauma, and the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in child welfare. The commitments made by the Ontario child welfare sector represent an acknowledgement that we must do better, be held accountable to results, and work in a framework that recognizes and supports Reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
At this agency there is an internal committee co-led by the Manager of Equity, Inclusion and Community Development and the Manager of Intake Services & Special Projects. Several agency staff sit on the Indigenous Child Welfare Collaborative in Hamilton with community partners and the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton. As we continue to learn from one another, we continue to:
- offer a wide-range of learning opportunities for staff and foster families,
- host agency-wide special events to honour Indigenous days of significance,
- provide an anti-colonialism lens to policies, procedures and practices with Indigenous families
- work together with local Indigenous service organizations to better understand the culturally-specific support and resources needed for families involved with the child welfare agency,
- offer smudging in family meetings and events at the agency,
- maintain the Indigenous Resource Room, as a space designed by Indigenous youth.
Our agency has also made a commitment, alongside other children’s aid societies across the province, in the following areas:
- Reduce the number of Indigenous children in care.
- Reduce the number of legal files involving Indigenous children and families.
- Increase the use of formal customary care* agreements.
- Ensure Indigenous representation and involvement at the local Board of Directors.
- Implement mandatory Indigenous training for staff.
- Change the inter-agency protocol to include Jordan’s Principle** as a fundamental principle.
- In consultation with the Indigenous communities, develop a unique agency-based plan to better address the needs of the children and families from those communities.
- Continue to develop relationships between their agency and the local Indigenous communities.
- Assist those individuals wanting to see their historical files by accessing and providing the information they request.
*Customary care leaves the responsibility for the care of the child with the Indigenous community.
**Jordan’s Principle is a child-first principle aimed at ensuring that services to First Nations children are not denied, delayed, or disrupted due to jurisdictional disputes. The principle is named for Jordan River Anderson, a young boy from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba. To learn more about Jordan’s Principle, please visit the website.