Chronology of Child Welfare Developments Affecting Indigenous People in Canada
Mid 18th - 19 Century
Prior to European settlement and within the colonial period, care and support for children and orphans was provided by family, kin and community.
1831 – 1996
Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities to attend residential schools or day schools where they were forbidden from practicing their cultures.
The Indian Act is given Royal Assent giving the government of Canada control over First Nations lives, directing their lifestyle, where they would live and how the could raise children.
The first child protection act was passed in Ontario which promoted foster care, gave Children's Aid Societies guardianship power, and established the office of the superintendent of neglected children. Most provinces created child welfare services over the next 20 years.
Early 20th Century
Non-kin adoptions arranged by public agencies became increasingly common. Children were longer only adopted to families that shared their appearance and religious beliefs.
The Indian Act is revised as provincial laws of general applicability now apply to First Nations peoples residing on reserve. Revision officially delegated responsibility for Aboriginal health, welfare and education services to provincial governments.
1951 – 1980s
The Sixties Scoop was a period in which a series of policies were enacted in Canada that enabled child welfare authorities to take, or "scoop up," Indigenous children from their families and communities for placement in foster homes, from which they would be adopted by white families. Despite its name referencing the 1960s, the Sixties Scoop began in the mid-to-late 1950s and persisted into the 1980s.
The first negotiated arrangement between government and an Indigenous group was formalised, with an employee from the Blackfoot Band of Alberta being designated by the provincial government as a child protection worker, and the federal government agreeing to reimburse the band for services to children. Delegated First Nation Child and Family Services agencies begin to provide services or reserve to their communities.
1980s – 1990s
Delegated First Nations Child and Family Services agencies begin to provide services on reserve to their communities. Delegated or community-based Métis Child and Family Services agencies begin provide services to their communities.
The Assembly of First Nations and First Nations Child and Family Services Caring Society of Canada file a complaint pursuant to the Human Rights Act claiming Canada underfunds child welfare on reserves.
CHRT ruled that the federal government's longstanding underfunding of child and family services on First Nations reserves and failure to insure that children can access government services on the same terms as other children is discriminatory on the grounds of race, national and ethnic origin.
2018 – 2020
The Métis National Council and Métis Governing Member as well as other National Indigenous Organizations (NIO's) participate in several engagement sessions with the federal, provincial and territorial governments in the development of C-92 legislation.
Bill C-92: An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis families, children and youth comes into force on January 1, 2020.
Provincial governments are responsible for providing child welfare services in their jurisdictions. Where child welfare services are delivered to Indigenous peoples by Delegated Indigenous child welfare agencies, the agencies continue to be predominantly mandated through federal, provincial and territorial governments statutes. The Métis national Council Continues to support Métis Nation Governing Members and leadership to keep Métis families, children and youth safe, healthy and thriving within their communities and their culture.