facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that the federal government's Indigenous child welfare act is constitutional, affirming that First Nations, Metis and Inuit have sole authority over the protection of their children.

The case stems from when the Quebec government opposed the law on jurisdictional grounds, arguing that Ottawa overstepped its legislative authority, infringed provincial jurisdiction, and effectively recognized Indigneous peoples as a third order of government. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

Bill C-92, An Act Respecting First Nations, Métis and Inuit Children Youth and Families, became law in 2019. Bill C-92 is legislation that acknowledges Indigenous communities have the right to create their own child and family policies and laws. 

Bill C-92 creates national standards for how Indigenous children are to be treated. For example, the law says foster care authorities are to prioritize placing children with extended family and home communities over non-Indigenous placements and also allows communities to create their own child welfare laws. Under C-92, five Indigenous governing bodies have asserted their control over their child and family services.

In December 2022, The Native Women’s Association’s (NWAC) lawyers told judges of the country’s top court that every discussion involving Indigenous self-governance rights must ensure that Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender and gender-diverse people can equally access those rights, despite longstanding and systemic discrimination. 

NWAC said in a press release that the decision to uphold the law will help reduce unconscionable numbers of Indigenous children who are uprooted from their communities and placed in provincial child-welfare programs, away from their communities and culture. 

In Canada, First Nations, Inuit and Métis children account for 53.8 percent of all children in the child welfare system, according to the 2021 census.

“This ruling confirms that Canada’s legal system has room for Indigenous laws, without compromising anyone’s rights,” said NWAC President Carol McBride in a press release. “When Indigenous women and gender-diverse folks can participate equally in their communities’ child and family service systems, those communities are stronger and safer.”

More Stories Like This

Photos of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe’s Powwow
NCAI President Calls for Indigenous Participation in United Nations
Army Seeks Extension in Lawsuit Over Return of Native Childrens’ Remains
DOI places Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation's northern Illinois reservation land into trust
Army to Send Home 11 Native Children from Former Indian Boarding School

Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Kaili Berg
Author: Kaili BergEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Reporter
Kaili Berg (Aleut) is a member of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Nation, and a shareholder of Koniag, Inc. She is a staff reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Berg, who is based in Wisconsin, previously reported for the Ho-Chunk Nation newspaper, Hocak Worak. She went to school originally for nursing, but changed her major after finding her passion in communications at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.