Children and Family Services
The history of the Métis family system has traditionally incorporated a holistic foundation of values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. Early Métis families raised their children in a way consistent with their culture, involving extended family systems with care-giving responsibilities for children. Should parents have had a need for assistance raising a child, direct support or custom adoption were typically provided by maternal relatives, often grandparents.
In the late 19th and 20th centuries, stemming from the federal and provincial governments perspective that Indigenous parenting practices were negligent, irresponsible or uncivilized, the residential school and child welfare system were introduced across the country. The legacy of the state’s intervention into the lives of Indigenous people has been harmful to the Métis, First Nations and Inuit children and families. Intervention that caused family separation, trauma and abuse has been well recorded and contributed to the significant over representation of Indigenous children and youth in care in Canada.
Métis people have always opposed the governments established child welfare practices imposed on their children. To combat the existing practices, Métis child welfare organizations were developed across the Métis homeland. The development of Métis organizations were intended to reverse the flow of children into care, as well as to preserve and promote the cultural identity, and cultural heritage of Métis children.
The experiences and advocacy of Indigenous people, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, Human Rights Tribunal decisions, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, as well as other reports and academic papers has resulted in recent and significant changes respecting indigenous child welfare in Canada
Canada engaged Indigenous elders, leadership, national organizations and individuals to provide guidance and share information regarding their thoughts about how child and family services should be changed to address the identified historical child welfare issues. In collaboration with Indigenous representatives, child welfare experts, as well as provincial and territorial governments, Canada created federal child welfare legislation. As a result, An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis families, children and youth came into force on January 1, 2020. The Act affirms the constitutional rights of Indigenous peoples to create and administer their own child and family services laws.
The Métis National Council and its governing members are working to support Métis Nation leadership in advancing culturally appropriate reform of child and family services to keep Métis Nation children safe, healthy and thriving with their families, community and culture.