First Nations opt out of non-native Children’s Aid Service

A northern reserve wants to end its relationship with non-native childrens aid services.

Chief Isadore Day says First Nation agency has better working knowledge of Aboriginal culture, history

A northern reserve wants to end its relationship with non-native children’s aid services.

The chief of the Serpent River First Nation said people have concerns about children being removed from the reserve without a full understanding of First Nations values.

Isadore Day said the community wants to have a local First Nation agency provide child welfare services instead of those provided by both Algoma and Sudbury CAS, depending on the case.

But until Nogdawindamin Family Services is certified by the province, Serpent River will use a native children's aid agency — Dilico Anishnabek Family Care — based out of Thunder Bay.

"They do have all of those things that we need as [a] First Nations community, in terms of knowledge of the language, knowledge of the history and the culture," Day said.

"And they have a very good working sense of how to work in First Nations communities because they are a First Nations organization."

Nogdawindamin does preventative work and child mental health work for the community and began working toward its CAS certification in the early 2000s. Day estimated the group was about halfway through that process.

The change is another example of a First Nation taking back its identity and community control, he added, noting they want to stop children from being removed from First Nations communities — something that is striking familiar to the residential school experience.

This past spring on the M'Chigeeng First Nation, the chief there banned CAS workers from the community for a month.

Currently the Canadian Human Rights Commission is holding hearings in Ottawa to look at whether the federal government has discriminated against native children by underfunding child welfare.