Yukon First Nation seeks child welfare control
A Yukon First Nation is taking over its own child welfare matters, even though the federal and Yukon governments are not giving it any funding.
The Carcross Tagish First Nation has recently developed and passed its own Family Act, giving it a framework to run its own social services. First Nation officials say they have stared implementing the act, working with families and education officials.
But Deputy Chief Dan Cresswell said the Carcross-based First Nation's efforts to secure funding to operate its own child welfare program has been blocked by both governments.
Cresswell said the federal government claims the issue is a territorial responsibility, while the Yukon government says it is a federal responsibility.
"The federal government says, 'Well, the money is in the region, you know, for child welfare. The money comes in to [the Yukon government],'" Cresswell told CBC News.
But he said the Yukon government says First Nations need to negotiate with the federal government for their own funding.
Another Yukon First Nation, the Kwanlin Dun First Nation in Whitehorse, recently announced it has banned Yukon government social workers from its lands over frustrations about how children have been apprehended.
Frustrated with social workers
Kwanlin Dun Chief Mike Smith told a meeting of chiefs last week that he is frustrated with social workers apprehending children without giving the First Nation prior notice, contrary to past agreements.
Smith also said his First Nation has been spending too much money on lawyers to fight members' child apprehension cases in court.
Cresswell said the Carcross Tagish First Nation was upset about the same issue a long time ago, which was why it decided to pursue its own child welfare program.
For the time being, Cresswell said the First Nation will try to take over responsibility bit by bit, while continuing to negotiate for funding.
"Even though we don't have the funding for it, we really don't have a choice," he said.
Cresswell said he can see why the governments may be reluctant to part with their funding: the Carcross Tagish First Nation estimates that it will cost $1.2 million a year to take over child welfare services.
With 11 self-governing First Nations in Yukon, Cresswell said it is unlikely the governments will come to the table anytime soon with child welfare funding.