Nehiyaw and Dene Nations of Treaty No. 8 Adoption and Private Guardianship Law

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Children and youth are a gift from the Creator and as Sovereign Nations, we maintain the true authority over our children, youth and families.

I.   When children and youth are adopted or taken into private guardianship without the voluntary consent of parents/guardians and the First Nation(s) there is a harmful intergenerational impact on our children and youth’s Treaty and Inherent rights.

II.   The Nehiyaw and Dene are sovereign Nations with Inherent Rights, given to them by the Creator and affirmed in Treaty No. 8.

III.   The Nehiyaw and Dene Nations of Treaty No. 8 Adoption and Private Guardianship Law shall be construed as upholding the Aboriginal, Inherent and Treaty Rights and any other rights and freedoms of the Treaty No. 8 and shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any protection provided for them by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.1

IV.   Each First Nation is sovereign and chooses to opt-in by way of a Band Council Resolution to enact the Law Requiring Consent for Adoption and Private Guardianship.

V.   The adoption and or private guardianship of a Child or Youth who is a member, or eligible to be a member, of a First Nation, requires the written consent of:

  • the Parent(s) or Guardian(s) of the Child or Youth; and
  • the First Nation that the Child or Youth is a member of, or is eligible to be a member of.

VI.   Absence of a response must not be construed as dispensing consent.

VII.   Sovereign Nation’s adoption and private guardianship laws, customs, and practices will prevail over the adoption and private guardianship laws and processes of any other government or any other law.

VIII.   The Nehiyaw and Dene Nations of Treaty No. 8 Adoption and Private Guardianship Law will be in effect until such a time that a Sovereign Nation enacts their own law pertaining to adoption and private guardianship, at which point that Sovereign Nation’s law will become paramount.

BRIEFING NOTE

Date: February 27, 2024
Issue: Adoption and/or Private Guardianship
Prepared by: Treaty 8 Sovereignty Squad
Prepared for: Chiefs of the Sovereign Nations of Treaty No.8

BACKGROUND:

In Fall 2012 the Assembly of Treaty Chiefs passed Resolution R08-2012-09-27 “Concerns Regarding Children in Care, Funding, and Administrative Issues”, demanding that the Government of Alberta terminate the process of private guardianship and adoption.

On August 30, 2018, Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta sent a letter to Alberta Children’s Services demanding Alberta cease and desist all adoptions and private guardianships of Treaty 8 First Nations children.

On December 17, 2019, a “Third and Final Notice” was hand delivered to then-Minister Rebecca Schulz to cease and desist all private guardianship and adoption of our children. A request to respond by January 7, 2020, was included in the letter.

On February 10, 2020, an Adoption and/or Private Guardianship cease and desist letter was hand delivered to then-Premier Jason Kenney.

On July 14, 2020, Treaty 8 First Nations received a response letter from then-Minister Rebecca Schulz stating that in some circumstances they may proceed with “legal permanency” when aligned with the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (CYFEA) 2000 and that “engagement and discussion” with the First Nation would be considered. There was no indication complying with the request to cease and desist all private guardianships and adoptions.

Alberta Children’s Services introduced a new booklet in July 2020 titled the Private Guardianship Self Help Guide. The guide gives instructions on how a caregiver (not social workers) can proceed to apply for private guardianship of a child, even if a Child and Family Services Director opposes, a court can still grant the application.

On July 14, 2022, Motion # 07-07-14-2022 was passed “to adopt and affirm the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta Nehiyaw Dene Nations of Treaty No. 8 adoption private guardianship law as presented.” The motion has been strengthened to enable our next step in enacting and enforcing this law, the Nehiyaw and Dene Nations of Treaty No. 8 Adoption and Private Guardianship Law.

CURRENT SITUATION:

Despite the matter being raised on more than one occasion, Alberta Children’s Services continues with the adoption and private guardianship of Treaty 8 children and youth. Treaty 8 First Nations are in the process of developing their own child well-being laws. In the absence of a First Nation law CYFEA will be applied.

The meaning of this is that we continue to have our children stolen at an alarming rate by the Alberta Children’s Services system. Alberta Children’s Services may proceed without the consent of parents, guardians and First Nations.

The Nehiyaw and Dene Nations of Treaty No. 8 Adoption and Private Guardianship Law can be adopted for  the time being to address this epidemic while giving the First Nation time to finish creating and enact their own child well-being law.

Adoption and Private Guardianship Law

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