In chronological order, here are the key steps that led to the consultation process for the reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program (FNCFS) of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
- In 2007, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. This complaint stated that INAC funds the child and family services that are intended for First Nations in Canada’s reserves in an unequal and discriminatory fashion.
- In January 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) confirmed the merits of the complaint. Thus, under the Canadian Human Rights Act, the provision of child and family services by INAC was found to be discriminatory due to inequitable and inadequate funding.
- In its decision, the CHRT ordered INAC to:
- Put an end to its discriminatory practices;
- Proceed with a reform of the FNCFS Program;
- Stop applying its earlier definition of Jordan’s Principle and take steps to immediately implement the full meaning and scope of Jordan’s Principle.
- In May 2016, after having collected six years of testimony regarding the abuse suffered by former Indian residential school students, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada ended. In addition to the 94 recommendations included in its final report, the TRC also issued calls to action intended for the federal, provincial and Aboriginal governments to address the consequences of the residential schools and advance the reconciliation process.
- Therefore, in response to the CHRT’s order to fully reform the FNCFS Program and the TRC’s calls to action on child welfare, the Government of Canada launched a nationwide engagement process in the fall of 2016. This process involves the First Nations communities and other key partners including the First Nations child and family services organizations and provincial governments.
- Thus, each region must develop and implement its own consultation process. The needs, opinions, considerations and suggestions expressed by First Nations in the consultations will be formulated as recommendations that will be contained in the regional reports. INAC will use these recommendations to reform the FNCFS Program in order to provide First Nations children and families with quality and culturally appropriate services that are effective in meeting their needs.