New Brunswick Info Sheet on First Nations Child Welfare



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New Brunswick Info Sheet on First Nations Child Welfare
In 2006 there are 12,385 First Nations people in New Brunswick; they represented 1.8% of the total First Nations population in Canada and 1.7 % of the population of New Brunswick (Statistics Canada, 2006). First Nations children constituted 3% of the child population in New Brunswick; an additional less than one percent of the child population is non-First Nations Aboriginal (Statistics Canada, 2006 Census). 1 First Nations children are currently overrepresented within the New Brunswick child welfare system in that of the total First Nations child population living on reserve 6% are in out-of-home care as compared to the general child population where 1% is in out-of-home care (Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2010).

First Nations communities in New Brunswick have long worked to re-gain control over child welfare practices related to their children. The results of their efforts are demonstrated by the existence of eleven First Nations child welfare agencies; these agencies serve all 15 of the First Nations reserves in New Brunswick (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2010), and, accordingly, the 58% of the First Nation child population that live on-reserve (Statistics Canada, 2006). All First Nations child welfare agencies provide off-reserve services “to status First Nations children …[who] request services” following a protocol between the provincial government and agency when providing off-reserve services (Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2010, p.37).


Historical Overview of the First Nations Child Welfare System in New Brunswick
New Brunswick shares a common national history with other provinces in regards to the development of First Nations child welfare. Residential schools served as the primary mechanism of First Nations child welfare in Canada between 1879 and 1946 (Milloy, 1999). During this period, the Canadian government’s policy regarding First Nations child welfare was to assimilate Aboriginal peoples into Anglo-European culture by separating Aboriginal children from their families. In 1920 an amendment to the Indian Act made attendance at designated state sponsored (day, residential, institutional) schools mandatory for all children “between the ages of seven and fifteen years” who were physically able to attend (An Act to amend the Indian Act, 1920, A10).  It also allowed truant officers to enforce attendance, giving them the right to, “enter any place where he has reason to believe there are Indian children” of school age and to arrest and convey to school truant children. (An Act to amend the Indian Act, 1920, A10). Information on the impact of the residential school system on Aboriginal people in New Brunswick is difficult to access. However, based on data from the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs Atlantic Survivors Database System, which gathers information about the number of residential school survivors residing in the Atlantic provinces, it appears that Aboriginal children from New Brunswick were sent to the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia (Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs, 2010; Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2010).

In 1951, the introduction of Section 88 to the Indian Act made “all laws of general application from time to time in force in any province applicable to and in respect of Indians in the province” (Indian Act, s. 88, c. 9, s. 151, 1985). Section 88 made it possible to enforce provincial child welfare legislation on-reserve. For the first time provincial child welfare authorities began to apprehend Aboriginal children living on-reserve; this resulted in a sharp increase of First Nations children placed in care (Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996).

Starting in the early 1980s First Nations communities in New Brunswick began to publicly express dissatisfactions with provincial child welfare services (Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2009). In 1983, the Canadian and New Brunswick governments signed the Indian Child and Family Services Agreement allowing Big Cove, Burnt Church, Eel Ground and Tobique First Nations communities to provide child welfare services working under the legal requirements of the Child and Family Services and Relations Act (1998). Between 1983 and 1988, six additional First Nations communities signed similar agreements and formed delegated First Nations child welfare agencies (Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2009).

By 1991, due to a national rise in the number of First Nations child welfare agencies and a perceived lack of funding for such services, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) implemented a national First Nations child welfare program (Auditor General of Canada Report, 2008). The program was comprised of a funding formula, Directive 20-1, and standards, documented in the First Nations Child and Family Services National Program Manual, which required First Nations child welfare agencies to conduct child welfare services based on provincial standards (Auditor General of Canada Report, 2008). Under the terms of Directive 20-1, New Brunswick child welfare agencies, received operations budgets, determined on the basis of the child population, and funds to cover maintenance expenses for children placed in out of home care. In 1993, the MicMac and Maliseet First Nations Services Standard Manual, a set of standards for First Nations child welfare, was developed by First Nations child welfare agencies in New Brunswick (Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2009). These standards were revised in 2004 and continue to operate within New Brunswick (Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2009)


The Current Structure of First Nations Child Welfare
There are currently eleven First Nations child welfare agencies that serve on and off reserve children in New Brunswick (See agency table below). All are delegated to conduct child welfare investigations; they have signed agreements with the provincial government that gives them authority to enforce the Child and Family Services and Relations Act (Child and Family Services and Relations Act, 1998). The New Brunswick government has not proposed any changes to the Child and Family Services and Relations Act that give special considerations to Aboriginal children and families (Child and Family Services and Relations Act, 1998). However, standards included in the MicMac and Maliseet First Nations Services Standard Manual reflect Mi’kmaq and Maliseet values, the two largest First Nations groups in New Brunswick (Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2009). The manual includes: “provisions for the use of a Family Mediator (influential family member) to help resolve service issues; provisions for custom adoption; elders and community advisory committees composed of family mediators and other appropriate community members; and a list of preferential placements” (Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2009, p.7).

First Nations child welfare agencies in New Brunswick receive funding under the term of INAC’s national formula, Directive 20-1 (INAC, 2007), which provides operations funding based on the child population size and covers maintenance costs for children placed in out of home care (MacDonald & Ladd, 2000). Funds are distributed to First Nations Band Councils based on the number of children eligible for Band Registration under the Indian Act 2 (Indian Act, 1985; Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2010). Directive 20-1 has been criticized for under-funding administrative and child maintenance services for First Nations children, failing to fund preventative or support services for families of children who are not in-care, and contributing to jurisdictional disputes which compromise the quality and efficiency of services for First Nations children (Blackstock, Prakash, Loxley, & Wien, 2005; INAC, 2007; MacDonald & Ladd, 2000). According to the New Brunswick Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate 2010 report only one3 First Nations child welfare agency in New Brunswick “has a population large enough to benefit fully from this funding formula” (p.18).



The New Brunswick government has recently begun to consider the state of child welfare for First Nations children and families. In February 2010 the New Brunswick Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate published a review of First Nations child welfare in the province with numerous recommendations related to restructuring the child welfare system to better serve First Nations children and families; including consolidating the eleven existing First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies into three agencies, with one First Nations Child and Family Service Office. Other recommendations were that child welfare service provision be culturally appropriate for First Nations children and families, that the New Brunswick government recognize the unique circumstances affecting First Nations people and that funding for child welfare services to First Nations people take into consideration the funding needs suggested by First Nations communities (Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate, 2009; 2010).
 




Agencies delegated to conduct child welfare investigations

Agency

First Nations Served

Four Directions Child and Family Services

Buctouche First Nation, Fort Folly First Nation, Indian Island First Nation, Pabineau

Burnt Church Child and Family Services

Burnt Church

Eel Ground Child and Family Services

Eel Ground First Nation

Eel River Bar Child and Family Services

First Nation

Elsipogtog Child and Family Services

Elsipogtog/Big Cove First Nation

Kingsclear Child and Family Services

Kingsclear First Nation

Oromocto Child and Family Services

Oromocto First Nation

St. Mary's Child and Family Services

St. Mary's

Red Bank Child and Family Services

Metepenagiag First Nation

Tobique Child and Family Services

Tobique First Nation

Woodstock Child and Family Services

Woodstock First Nation

References:
An Act to Amend the Indian Act. (1920). Retrieved from

http://epe.lacbac.gc.ca/100/205/301/ic/cdc/aboriginaldocs/stat/html/1920jl01.htm.


Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs. (2010). Indian Residential Schools:

Executive Summary. Retrieved from http://www.apcfnc.ca/en/community/IRS_ExecSumm.asp.


Blackstock, C., Prakash, T., Loxley, J., & Wien, F. (2005). Wen:de: We are Coming to

the Light of Day. Ottawa: First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.
Child and Family Services and Relations Act. R.S.N.B. (1998) Retrieved from:

http://www.gnb.ca/0062/regs/98-27.htm
Indian Act, R.S., (1985). c.I-5, S88. Retrieved from:http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/I-5/
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Department Audit and Evaluation Branch . (2007).

Evaluation of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program

Retrieved from: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ai/arp/aev/pubs/ev/06-04/06-07-eng.pdf


Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. (2010). First Nations Profile. Retrieved from

http://pse5-esd5.aincinac.gc.ca/fnp/Main/Search/SearchRV.aspx?lang=eng


McDonald, N., & Ladd, P. (June 2000). First Nations Child and Family Services Joint

National Policy Review: Draft final report. Prepared for the Assembly of First Nations with First Nations Child and Family Service Agency Representatives in Partnership with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Ottawa: AFN and DIAND.
Milloy, J. (1999). A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential

School System 1879-1986. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate. (2009). A Review of First

Nations Child Welfare in New Brunswick: Context and Opportunity. Retrieved from: http://www.gnb.ca/0073/Review/index-e.asp
Office of the Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate. (2010). Hand in Hand: A

Review of First Nations Child Welfare in New Brunswick. Retrieved from: http://www.gnb.ca/0073/Index-e.asp
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. (1996). The report on the Royal Commission

on Aboriginal Peoples. Retrieved from http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ap/rrc-eng.asp.
Statistics Canada. Aboriginal Peoples in Canada in 2006: Inuit, Métis and Fist Nations,

2006 Census. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/dp-pd/hlt/97-558/index.cfm?Lang=E


Statistics Canada. Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2001 – Provincial and Territorial Reports:

Off-Reserve Aboriginal Population. Retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?lang=eng&catno=89-618-X




1 There are three groups of Aboriginal peoples in Canada recognized by the Constitution Act (1982): First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.

2 Four Directions Child and Family Services is the only agency in New Brunswick that receives funds directly from INAC without Band Council financial involvement

3 The Elsipogtog First Nations child and family services

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