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Child Welfare

1. Reduce the number of Aboriginal children in care

In progress - Projects proposed


The number of Aboriginal children in care has not yet been reduced, but in 2019 an Indigenous child welfare bill was passed.

The Call to Action:

We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care by:

i. Monitoring and assessing neglect investigations.

ii. Providing adequate resources to enable Aboriginal communities and child-welfare organizations to keep Aboriginal families together where it is safe to do so, and to keep children in culturally appropriate environments, regardless of where they reside.

iii. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the history and impacts of residential schools.

iv. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing.

v. Requiring that all child-welfare decisions makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers.


Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Children, Youth and Families, received royal assent June 21, 2019. It came into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, though it has been challenged by the province of Quebec.

The legislation allows Indigenous groups to take over their own child welfare systems and prioritizes the placement of Indigenous children in care with members of their own extended families and Indigenous communities.

Bill C-92 does not guarantee the funding needed for Indigenous communities to implement their own child and family laws. Funding is to be negotiated between the Indigenous governing bodies and the provincial and federal governments.

In July 2021, Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan became the first Indigenous group in Canada to sign an agreement with Ottawa for federal funding of locally controlled child welfare services since the new act came into force.

Meanwhile, in June 2022, the federal government, the Assembly of First Nations, and lawyers for related class-action lawsuits reached a final settlement agreement to compensate young people harmed by Canada’s discriminatory child welfare system.

An agreement-in-principle was reached earlier in the year.

Indigenous Services Canada says the $20 billion settlement is the largest in Canadian history.

In September 2019, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the federal government to pay $40,000 to each child — the maximum allowed under the Canadian Human Rights Act — who was apprehended or taken from their homes on reserve, no matter what the reason.

The order stems from the January 2016 tribunal ruling which said the government discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding on-reserve child welfare services.

Some estimates place the number of potentially affected children at about 50,000. The tribunal also ordered compensation of $20,000, plus an additional $20,000 for every child taken for each parent or grand-parent — if the latter was the primary caregiver — whose children were taken from their home unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal provides up-to-date research on Canada’s Aboriginal child welfare programs and policies, and includes research borne out of the different provinces and territories. But this portal is made up of a consortium of academic researchers and child welfare service providers, through the McGill Centre for Research on Children and Families. It is not a federal or provincial agency.

Both the Canadian Association of Social Work Education and the Canadian Association of Social Workers have officially declared their support for the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action regarding Child Welfare. But as of July 2021, formal changes to policies and standards for professional training have not been implemented.

In 2015, the government of the Northwest Territories expanded its mandatory training for all child protection workers; that training includes Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training and a presentation on the links between the residential school legacy and the child welfare system.