Indigenous leaders optimistic on new child welfare laws

Jane Philpott

Indigenous leaders are expressing optimism the federal government is finally trying to fix a child-welfare system that has become Canada's modern version of residential schools.

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott plans to introduce legislation early in the new year that would enshrine principles for Indigenous child welfare into federal law.

That includes community control over decisions made for children and no longer using poverty alone to justify taking children from their parents.

The broad strokes of the bill were set over the last year in consultation with Indigenous leaders and families after years of cries from Indigenous parents that their children were not receiving the care they deserved.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in 2016 ruled the federal government discriminated against First Nations children on reserves because the only way they got the same child-welfare funding and programming as other kids in Canada was if they were taken into care, often in non-Indigenous households far from home.