AMC has solutions for inherent jurisdiction over First Nations children

Mathais Columb Cree Nation Chief Arlen Dumas
Grand Chief Arlen Dumas

Mathais Columb Cree Nation Chief Arlen Dumas
Grand Chief Arlen Dumas

Treaty One Territory, MB. – A 17-year-old girl who is only being identified as Angel was moved through 46 different foster homes before dying of an accidental overdose. Today, the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth released their investigation findings and formal recommendations to prevent future tragedies like Angel’s.

“The child welfare system in Manitoba has set our children up for failure; just like it is still doing with the thousands of children still in care,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.

“This is why the system must change and it is why the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs was motivated to act with the expedited set up of the First Nations Family Advocate Office.”

The First Nations Family Advocate Office was launched June 1, 2015. Its main goal is to reunify First Nations children with their families, be it immediate or extended.

“Children have the right to be raised within their familial groups and their culture. The colonial system has been taking away our children for too long. First with residential schools, then the Sixties Scoop and now through the child welfare system in this province,” said Grand Chief Dumas.

“Our collective hearts have been breaking since young Tina Fontaine’s body was found. Tina’s death brought awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to the public eye. But Tina’s story is just one of thousands and now we are learning about Angel’s short tragic life.”

“With this new report, it is my hope that we are closer to doing the right thing when it comes to First Nations children in care – and that is the return to the inherent jurisdiction over our First Nations children and families to First Nations citizens.”

Recently, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Assembly of First Nations both passed resolutions to support the AMC’s Manitoba-specific federal legislation called Bringing Our Children Home Act. This Act would see the restoration of First Nations jurisdiction over families and children.

On Monday the AMC presented oral closing submissions at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children in Ottawa. Grand Chief Dumas spoke to the many abuses and indignations that happen throughout the lives of First Nation women and girls due to colonization; the imposition of foreign laws and ways of being through colonization; and the disruptions that happen because their lives were taken too soon and because they were not given ceremonial teachings they required for living through stages of life according to First Nation teachings.

“We need to reassert First Nation laws affecting all aspects of daily life. It is the only way we will prevent future violence against all First Nations women and girls,” said Grand Chief Dumas.

“Western ways are incapable of dealing with the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Keeping First Nations women and girls safe requires us to return to First Nation ways of being and knowing. Angel will never realize her full potential or discover her gifts as a First Nations woman,” said Grand Chief Dumas.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the First Nations Family Advocate Office offers our condolences to Angel and her family on this difficult day.